crocheting
Needlework isn't just for your grandma. (Illustration by Malini Basu, Macalester College)

Crocheting Is the More Accessible and Versatile Answer to Knitting

It may look difficult, but it’s an easy alternative to other needlework that can help you escape from your pandemic woes.

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crocheting

It may look difficult, but it’s an easy alternative to other needlework that can help you escape from your pandemic woes.

Once viewed as a craft reserved for elderly grandmothers, knitting has recently come into vogue as a trendy and sustainable activity, especially with the rise of cottagecore. In our current era of isolation, yarn crafts provide a relaxing outlet through which you can distract yourself from stressors and hone a new skill. But knitting is not the only option: Though less well-known, crocheting is a more versatile type of needlework that could be your new pandemic hobby.

For those unfamiliar with crocheting, you might be wondering how different it really is from knitting. Though they are both yarn crafts, crocheting and knitting involve slightly different materials and techniques.

Many are aware that knitting uses two needles to stitch yarn together, but crocheting uses just one hook. Rather than a pointed end, a crochet hook has a curved one that hooks the yarn and moves it to create a stitch. The stitching itself also distinguishes the two crafts: In crochet, each stitch is completed before the next one is begun, while in knitting, many stitches are left open on the needles at one time.

Most importantly, crochet differs from knitting in its ease and versatility for the crafter. Though knitting is the more well-known and popular yarn craft, crocheting is a more flexible and creative hobby, no matter your level of experience. You only need a crochet hook, some yarn and some basic instructions to start, so what are you waiting for? There are plenty of reasons why you should take up crocheting.

Crocheting Is Easy to Learn and Master

As a talented knitter, my mother taught me and my sister how to knit at a young age. While my sister caught on quickly, making even rows that turned into pretty potholders and scarves, I struggled with making the rows straight and holding the yarn tightly enough.

Navigating the two needles at once with the necessary dexterity eluded me. So when my cousin taught me how to crochet, I found her quick fingers and beautiful creations intimidating. Based on my experience with knitting, I believed that it would take me years to crochet with the confidence and skill of my cousin.

Luckily, I was wrong. Watching someone crochet can make the task look nearly impossible, as the motions are fast and difficult to pick up just by observing. However, if you use a guide that shows how to make a stitch step by step, learning comes quickly.

Although there are many different types of stitches you can make while crocheting, there are only a few that are used frequently — and you can make many patterns with just the basic single crochet stitch. Single crochet, as well as double and triple crochet, are merely done by inserting the hook into the desired stitch, placing the yarn over the hook and then pulling it through a certain number of times.

With a little practice, your fingers usually get into a rhythm, and the stitches become easy to create. Making evenly spaced stitches also happens quickly and naturally, as a crochet hook doesn’t require the consistent yarn looseness or tightness of two knitting needles.

Crocheting Is Fast, Sturdy and Forgiving

Though the length of time it takes to create a project does vary based on a crafter’s skill, crocheting is generally a faster activity than knitting, with experienced crafters being able to crochet a blanket in several days as opposed to weeks when knitting. If you want to get a project done quickly for an upcoming occasion, crocheting is the way to go.

Crocheting is faster than knitting because it tends to use more yarn per stitch, which also means that crochet is bulkier than knitting. Though knitting is usually better for creating delicate patterns, crocheting provides a wonderful option for warm blankets and winter wear.

Even if you are not planning to make something like a thick scarf, the tightness and more knotted look of the stitches lend a nice sturdiness to any project.

The forgiving nature of crochet also makes projects go more smoothly than knitting. When knitting, if you make a mistake — often in the form of what is called a dropped stitch — you not only have to rip out all the work you have done since the error, but follow a specific technique to pull the stitch back to the row in which it belongs.

Remedying a dropped stitch can be a frustrating process, especially for novice knitters. However, when crocheting, if you mess up a stitch, you can just pull it out, redo it and continue with your row, making for a flexible and more enjoyable process.

You Can Crochet Many Different Projects

Knitting is best for working in rows of stitches, as in the case of making a rectangular scarf or blanket. If you want to knit in a circular shape, or rounds, you need to get special needles and use a slightly altered technique. With crocheting, you can do both of these techniques with ease.

The ability of crochet to work in rounds makes it unique and is one of my favorite aspects of the craft. This flexibility allows for more creativity when starting a project, with many different shapes available to you when crocheting.

I particularly appreciate the ability to crochet rounds, as my favorite way to crochet is through amigurumi, the Japanese art of making stuffed toys out of yarn. By crocheting in rounds, it is much easier to create heads, bodies and legs for cute animals and characters.

Amigurumi projects also go very quickly, and they always make lovely handmade gifts for friends and family. Although you can knit amigurumi toys, it is much more difficult. So, if you’d rather make a stuffed elephant than a wool sweater, crocheting is the best method to use.

During this time of uncertainty, it can be difficult to find ways to connect with others and ground yourself. Crocheting offers a remedy, allowing you to get out of your head, get into an embodied practice and create something meaningful. Whether you give your creations to others or keep them for yourself, they serve as uplifting reminders to create and share joy.

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