Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Crochet verses Knitting - My thoughts on the rivalry

This subject has been going around for ages. Heck, Debbie Stoller even talked about it in her Happy Hooker Stitch N Bitch book!

I'm a member of a large crochet community as well as knitting communities online. Truth be told, I've not seen knitters in those communities put crocheters down. To the contrary, I've seen crocheters putting knitters down. This is opposite of what I've always heard, in which it was presented that knitters can't stand crocheters and will put them down at any opportunity.

There is, of course, something on the knitters' side that I HAVE seen, which is what's referred to as "yarn snobbery". And, in a lot of ways, I have to agree with where that's coming from.

Those who know me know I began as a crocheter first. I learned to crochet in the summer of 2005. I had to teach myself, despite being involved in a local crochet club. The members of the club didn't seem to believe I would pick up on things as fast as I did. They didn't give me any credit, and therefore only had me doing chains when I was more than ready for single crochet. And then only single crochet when I was way past ready for double and triple crochet. I took a book, taught myself what I needed to know, and then showed up to one of the meets wearing a beret I'd crocheted in one night. They were floored.

But what does that have to do with being a yarn snob?

As a crocheter, I was encouraged to use a lot of cheap acrylic yarns rather than nicer wools or cottons. I think that this is because most crocheters use those kinds of yarn exclusively. They seem stuck on just making afghans or baby items, rather than using the skill to create beautiful clothing articles for adults. That's been an acceptable norm for decades, from what I can tell. And, honestly, it's what turned me away from crocheting...

For years and years I made afghan after afghan. I made a few shawls, too, but it was almost all about the blankets. In an effort to break away from the monotony, I tried crocheted dolls. However, I was trying to switch to that at a time in which "amigurumi" was becoming very popular. In ways, that was good. There were loads of patterns everywhere for crocheted toys. In another way, it was bad. I don't like being part of a fad. I wanted to make the toys as something unique and fun. When I made a few and was accused of stealing patterns because my designs looked like other people's creations, I was fed up.

That was when I turned to knitting.

I wanted to make something functional. I wanted clothing! At the time, crocheted clothing patterns seemed difficult to find. And in a lot of ways, I like the look of knitted clothing items more than crocheted clothing items. Namely, scarves. I like knit scarves. Not crocheted ones. And I was now living in a cold weather environment, so I needed nice warm sweaters. It was definitely time for a change, and knitting seemed the right way to go. I checked out some books from the local library, learned what I needed to make a ribbed scarf in about 4 hours, and I never looked back.

I knit 99% more than I crochet as of that day in October 2008. But that doesn't mean I gave crocheting up.

My honest view on it is that I think crocheting needs a "face lift". I think the focus needs to shift away from blankets and baby stuff to adult clothing and functional items. The craft may receive more respect if this were the case, as knitting is seen as a practical skill. From my experience, hardly anybody appreciates a handmade afghan as a present anymore, but they'd adore you if you made them a pair of wool knit socks.

Both skills have their place. That will always be the case. But, for me personally, I'd take knitting over crocheting. But not entirely.

1 comment:

Yresim said...

I found it interested to read this. My mom crocheted most of her life (until my grandmother died about 5 years ago), and she was always making clothing, as well as blankets. She even crocheted me a bathing suit when I was 5 or 6. I don't think she ever worked from a pattern, though. Just took measurements, and went from there.

My point is that crocheting can certainly be used to produce clothing, as well as any number of other things. In fact, I have yet to come across anything that can be knit but not crocheted (or visa versa). To be fair, I've just started doing them, but it seems to me that you can make whatever you want, using whichever one you like.

As for the reason why you don't see many crochet patterns for clothing, that may be an issue of demand. If other advanced crocheters are like my mother, they don't need patterns, so that could explain why those patterns were hard to find (although they are currently very very easy to find).

You certainly ended up with a group whose goals didn't fit with your own. But that can happen with any craft. I know plenty of knitters who have never made - and aren't interested in making - anything more complicated than a scarf. And I know weavers who've never made anything except tapestries. But that isn't a failure of crocheting/knitting/weaving. It isn't a failure at all. It's just what those particular crafters are interested in making.

I still do not understand the rivalry at all. But at least I have some inkling as to what is going on. If knitters think crocheters can't make clothes, and crocheters think knitters are snobs, that could cause trouble.