Being new at any hobby makes room for a lot of questions on a daily basis, especially if we’re serious about mastering it. But when it comes to fiber arts, it sometimes feels like we’ll never stop asking. They fire up both our creativity and our curiosity.
The reason why we’re here today is the fact that we understand the frustration behind googling a question and not getting an answer. That’s right. As beginners, we have tons of seemingly ridiculous questions, and we want answers.
Well, this article is our attempt at solving some everlasting conundrums related to fiber arts. We’ll discuss several fiber arts, as well as the differences between them. We’ll also try to answer the question that plagues the beginners’ minds — Which one is easier to master?
We hope that what we’ve learned from our own struggles and that our research will prove useful to our readers.
We need to get one thing straight right from the start — the answer to this question is a definite “No.” Sewing and knitting are absolutely not the same thing, and the terms should not be used interchangeably.
However, it is perfectly understandable for beginners to mix the two. What’s more, things often get even more complicated when other fiber arts are mentioned. So in order to clear up the confusion once and for all, we’ve decided to briefly discuss three major fiber arts — sewing, knitting, and crocheting.
To a complete ignoramus, these three look exactly the same — they all require some sort of a thread and some sort of a needle. However, this kind of generalization will probably enrage any even remotely skillful seamstress, knitter, or crocheter. And from this distance, we can say it would be justified.
In order to avoid irritating people with sharp objects in their hands, we want to explain the difference between the three crafts on the basis of several criteria:
So let’s get started!
The first difference between the three is in the way the crafting is typically executed, so to speak. Namely, we can sew, knit, and crochet both manually and with the help of a machine. So where’s the difference then?
It is precisely in the way hobbyists approach these crafts. While most people knit and crochet manually, when it comes to sewing, they usually opt for using a sewing machine.
In all three cases, of course, the other way round is quite possible. For example, beginners sometimes try their hand at sewing by hand first, using just a needle and some thread. On the other hand, people who take knitting and crocheting as hobbies would probably never buy the machines. They are rather expensive and designed for industrial use and mass production.
This is where we should be able to clearly see the difference between sewing, knitting, and crocheting.
Whether we decide to sew by hand or with a sewing machine, we’ll have to use small and very sharp needles. It is important to note, however, that needles for hand sewing differ from those we see in sewing machines.
The difference between the two kinds of needles is in the position of the eye — the small opening through which we pass the thread. Namely, the eye of a hand sewing needle is always at the blunt end of it. On the other hand, the eye of a sewing machine needle is at the sharp end, the one that goes through fabric first.
Obviously, both types come in a variety of sizes and thicknesses. Therefore, our choice will depend on the type of material and the type of sewing project we have in mind.
The first time we heard the term “knitting needles”, we got agitated. Needles for knitting too?! Are there really differences between knitting and sewing? Indeed, there are.
While we need only one needle for sewing, we’ll need two needles if we want to produce a knitted fabric. Much like sewing needles, they come in a variety of lengths and sizes. However, they can be made from several materials — wood, aluminum, and plastic.
The most common types of knitting needles are long, straight, and they have one pointed end. However, we can also find types that have two pointed ends — they’re commonly known as double-pointed needles. Finally, interchangeable knitting needles are, in fact, sets of needle tips and cables of various lengths. They are perfect for experienced knitters who like experimenting with threads of different thicknesses.
Furthermore, depending on what we want to knit, we get to choose between straight and circular needles. To make things clear, we’d opt for straight needles if we wanted to produce a flat piece of knitted fabric. However, if we wanted to knit something like a hat, which has a round shape, we’d opt for circular knitting needles.
So how do we choose? Quite obviously, we’ll base our decision on the knitting project we have in mind.
Unlike sewing and knitting, crocheting does not require needles. Well, at least technically.
The utensils we’d use for crocheting are somewhat different from those we’ve discussed so far. We refer to them as hooks, not needles. They owe that name to the fact that they have a relatively slender handle that ends with a hook at one or both sides. The hook is used to pull the thread through loops in order to make a stitch.
Since we’ve mentioned that two-ended hooks exist as well, it would be good to not that they’re also known as cro hooks. Another type is called the Tunisian hook, and it has a much longer handle. When we crochet with it, our stitches remain on the handle as we work. The most interesting type is the knook hook, which has a hook at one, and a threading hole at the other end. With it, we can crochet patterns that look more like they’ve been knitted.
Much like knitting needles, crochet hooks are often made from different materials. Aside from regular aluminum and plastic, we can also find hooks made of steel or bamboo. The availability of different sizes largely depends on the material they’re made of.
Before moving on, we’d like to underline that we’re using the term yarn to refer to a general continuous length of interlocked fibers.
Though not everything is in a name, the yarn used for sewing is more commonly referred to as thread. It is delicate, lightweight, and usually made out of cotton, silk, nylon, and linen. Furthermore, it is often sold tightly wound on spools of different sizes.
On the other hand, knitting and crocheting yarns are strikingly different from thread. In fact, yarn is one of the very few things that knitting and crocheting have in common. It’s much thicker than sewing thread, and it comes in balls, skeins, or hanks.
An interesting thing to mention is that very skillful crocheters are able to crochet with thicker sewing threads. That sort of work is known as micro-crocheting, and it produces fine lace, curtains, filet crocheted tablecloths, etc. On the other hand, knitting with thread is impossible, no matter how skillful the person is.
When it comes to colors, both sewing thread, as well as knitting and crocheting yarn, come in a seemingly endless variety of colors and shades. Sometimes, it’s next to impossible to choose.
If the difference between sewing, knitting, and crocheting still isn’t clear, we hope that this section will shed some light on the matter. The following are the lists of supplies we’d need for the three crafts.
In most instances of sewing, be it by hand or with a sewing machine, our intention is to connect two pieces of fabric together. The stitches are numerous, but their purpose is pretty much the same.
With crochet and knitting, our intention is to produce one continuous patch of fabric. However, that doesn’t mean that knitting and crocheting stitches are the same. Quite the contrary.
In knitting, for example, there are two basic stitches — knitting and purling. Mixing and matching them in numerous ways results in a plethora of patterns. Since we knit with two needles, we also need to learn the difference between inactive and active stitches. Namely, the inactive stitches are those that we have already created and that we are no longer using to create new rows. On the other hand, all stitches that actively participate in creating new rows are active. They are usually located on the needle that is in our less dominant hand.
When it comes to crocheting, we can also see an incredible variety of stitches. However, unlike in knitting, we create crochet stitches one at a time, and there is no need for an active needle. Even the beginners can notice the superior intricacy of crochet stitches. Interestingly enough, the intricacy doesn’t negatively affect the ease and speed of execution.
One of the first things we learn when we enter the yarn craft community is that there is a sort of a feud between crocheters and knitters. So questions like Is crochet faster than knitting? or Is knitting harder than crocheting? are bound to produce a number of extremely biased answers. And that is not enough to explain the crochet vs. knitting difference to beginners at either craft.
However, now that we have some experience, we might as well try our hand at answering the following questions:
So let’s get down to business.
Well, we must admit that, if one wants to see the fruits of their labor quickly, they should definitely opt for crocheting as their hobby. Simpler patterns can often be completed in one or two several-hour sittings, whereas more complex ones rarely take longer than a week of dedicated work. The fact that we have to hold just one hook in our hand makes things even faster, especially for experienced crocheters.
It all depends on practice and the person’s hand-eye coordination. However, it is an undeniable fact that it is incredibly difficult for beginners to master changing colors, directions, and stitch patterns in knitting. With every wrong step, we risk the whole thing slipping off our needle and falling apart. In addition to that, every time we want to knit something spiral, we have to introduce extra tools. That is not the case with crochet — crocheting spirals work the same as crocheting rows.
On the whole, we’d say that crocheting is probably easier than knitting, at least for beginners. Indeed, in the learning stage, it is probably much easier to monitor just one tool and one hand. With knitting, that’s five things to monitor right from the start — two hands, two needles, and the stitches going from one needle to another.
However, we can’t ignore the fact that knitting still seems to be more popular. Beginners and more advanced knitters alike can easily find an abundance of patterns and project ideas online. Sadly, that is not always the case with crocheting.
Since we’ve done our best to differentiate sewing from knitting and crocheting, we thought it would be wise to talk about another thing that confuses beginners — sewing vs. stitching.
Sewing is one of the world’s oldest crafts, and it implies fastening two pieces of fabric together with the help of a needle and some thread. Stitching, on the other hand, is the process of looping thread in order to join two objects together.
They sound pretty much the same, right? Well, they aren’t. Stitching is the foundation of embroidery. Therefore, it is often done with the purpose of decorating something. However, the two crafts are often used in combination, hence the confusion.
Much like the two crafts themselves, sewing and stitching machines have been causing quite a lot of confusion too.
The simplest explanation of the difference would be that stitching machines allow for embroidery stitching, whereas sewing machines allow for the so-called construction stitching. But what does that mean exactly?
Construction stitching is a common term for sewing together two pieces of fabric, finishing the edges of a single piece of fabric, or manipulating fabric pleats and darts. All of these things are done in order to make the fabric a functional part of a clothing item. Therefore, sewing machines are not such an uncommon sight in people’s homes.
Stitching, or embroidery, does not have the same purpose, nor does a stitching machine allow for it. We simply can’t use a stitching machine for construction sewing.
Generally speaking, embroidery machines can handle incredibly complex tasks and are therefore commonly found in commercial settings. They are an important part of nearly every clothing factory, no matter how big or small it might be.
Furthermore, advanced stitching machines are usually digitized. That way, they can be pre-programmed to create elaborate embroidery patterns. What’s more, the built-in computer memory allows for additional scanning and downloading of new patterns and monograms.
Finally, a sewing machine always has only one needle. A stitching machine, on the other hand, can have multiple needles working together simultaneously.
Sewing machines are more practical in nature because they make it possible to stitch two pieces of fabric together in order to make them functional. Stitching machines, on the other hand, have a more decorative purpose — they stitch-sew complex designs on the fabric. In order to do that, they are often digitized and programmed, which is another thing that sets them apart from sewing machines.
Well, that was exhausting, huh?
We sincerely hope that you stayed with us until this farewell passage, and we hope that this article has met your expectations.
If you have an opinion or a piece of advice you’d like to share, please, hit the comment section right now. We’d love to hear from you!