What’s the difference between knitting, crocheting and weaving?
I take my projects with me everywhere. And I get asked all the time, “what are you knitting?”
When I first started crocheting, I felt the need to correct people. Not sure why, but I was always worried that a real knitter would overhear and be offended that I let people believe I was knitting. Now, I realize most people are actually just trying to make conversation, and don’t need or want a detailed explanation of the difference between knitting and crocheting. They see me playing with yarn, and their curiosity is piqued—about the intended product, not necessarily the means of creating it.
But since you’re here, and while I have you, let me bend your ear on three beautiful ways to make fabric that often get confused for one another. I know there are other fabric-making art forms, but these are the most common.
Here’s the simple breakdown: it all comes down to the tools you’re using.
Knitting is done with two pointed sticks, used to make interlocking loops.
Crocheting is done with a hook, also used to make interlocking loops.
Weaving—well, weaving is a far more complicated ball of yarn to unravel. Fundamentally, it’s the crosshatching of threads to create a cloth. That can happen on many different kinds of looms, and uses a variety of tools. Since it’s fundamentally different, using crosshatching rather than loops, it produces a very different type of fabric, and you’re not likely to see someone weaving while they wait for the bus.
Funny story; I took to crochet like a fish to water. I picked up a how-to book at my local Walmart, and after a quick tutorial from a coworker on chaining and half-double crochet stitch, I was on my way. It made perfect sense to me, and I learned new techniques from Youtube videos and free online blogs. Even the fact that the tutorials and diagrams were for right-handed use and I crochet left-handed didn’t deter me.
Knitting, however, was not so easy. I bought the knitting how-to book on the same shelf at Walmart, but it was as if it had been written in another language. I had expected to breeze into it, given the fact that knitting uses both hands, and that I already knew the basics of working with yarn. It was a slow, painstaking process, and to this day, I’m a better crocheter than a knitter.
I’ve heard it’s often the case that a person will prefer one over the other, even if they can do both. And not everyone can or wants to learn both. Sometimes one or the other just makes sense to their brain, and they can create amazing works of art using that technique, but no other. Weavers are an even rarer breed. Maybe it’s because the equipment makes it less portable, or because it requires more spatial reasoning; I don’t know.
Part of the reason I don’t know why weaving isn’t as popular is that I’ve not done much of it. Last summer, my father-in-law and I made a simple loom using scrap wood and finishing nails. I wind my warp thread between the finishing nails, and then use a tapestry needle to weave the weft yarn to make decorative wall hangings. It’s super fun, and often feels like painting, because the point in making a wall hanging is simply to use colour and texture creatively, just for the joy of making something beautiful to look at.
However, I have a goal to learn weaving “for reals” by taking classes at my local weaver’s guild. Wish me luck, my friends! Weaving is a different way of thinking, but I’m ready for the challenge. I have a goal of making myself a coat out of fabric I’ve handwoven. This means, of course, I’ll also need to learn to sew a heck of a lot better than I do now. This should be fun!