As someone who both knits and crochets, it’s been a little surprising to learn recently of the so-called ‘divide’ between those who knit and those who crochet. Who knew?
When this grows up, it’ll be a rainbow blanket. Pattern based on the Ridge & Furrow Scarf.
The two cultures question came up because my four-year-old niece asked me to make her a rainbow blanket. Easy, I thought, granny squares, here I come: it’s modular, I can tuck a square in here and there, and after a few hundred of them, we’ll be done.
Then I started planning, and realised that I may just have to … knit this blanket. Which led me to wonder, what considerations do people take into account when choosing to knit or crochet something?
If you are new to the needle arts, many people say crochet is easier to pick up, since it uses only a hook, and you have to manage one stitch/loop at any one time. Just know that crochet uses a bit more yarn than knitting in basic stocking or garter stitch. (Here’s a test that someone’s done, if these things interest you.)
Knitting can feel unwieldy until you get the hang of it, and therefore frustrating – who hasn’t encountered twisted and dropped stitches, wrong stitch counts, slippery yarn that won’t stay on, and so on. Plus, beyond knitting needles of the right size, you often need needles of the right length as well for the job at hand.
My decision to knit came about primarily because I wanted to use stash yarn, and there wasn’t enough of every rainbow-ish colour in 8 ply. I did have all the colours that made up the rainbow, but of different tones and hues.
The other consideration was weight: the granny-square blankets we have are quite heavy, compared to the knitted ones, and the fabric much sturdier. I wanted something softer that draped.
What I knit and crochet fall into very clear categories. I crochet in summer when it’s too hot to have a growing pile of something on my lap, and when I feel a need for instant gratification, so it’s mainly toys and homewares – not surprising, since sturdiness is a necessary and desired quality for all those items. And I always crochet for school-fete goods such as little bowls, brooches, jewellery, mandalas, small colourful items and Christmas snowflakes.
A simple cuff crocheted in four rows of star stitch in a Japanese cotton yarn,
finished with an oversized mother-of-pearl button.
But for garments and items like hats and mitts, knitting wins hands down – it’s all about the fabric for me, and knitted fabric has more give. (You can go up a crochet hook size for a looser fabric, but the drape is still not quite the same.)
At the end of the day, both are complementary skills that are portable, easy to execute and don’t require impossible machines. If you know one and want to learn the other, we run classes in both. Discover for yourself! And take inspiration from Japanese designer Setsuko Torii, whose work often combines both cultures to quite dramatic effect, as in this Patchwork Skirt.
In store news, we have 22 shades of the Debbie Bliss Blue Faced Leicester instore. This lovely DK-weight yarn from a heritage breed produces soft wool with lovely drape and lustre, and the stitch definition is excellent. Each 50 g ball yields 108 metres, and is $11 per ball.
Brooklyn Tweed’s Wool People 9 is just out too, and features some beautiful lacework and architectural pieces, perfect to chase away winter evenings with while you dream of spring.