Life after Sewing: Knitting? Crochet?

Recently, I’ve started to think about learning to knit. I’ve never knitted more than a scarf before, but there are so many talented sewing knitting bloggers than can knit as well! And as it gets colder, I covet your cosy knitted creations!

photo source - www.life123.com

I love the idea of making my own sweaters and cardigans instead of buying them. I rarely shop anymore, and I find myself lacking sweaters because I can’t make them!

I could make knitted items to coordinate with my sewn wardrobe – the answer to what to wear over a vintage dress! Like Casey’s adorable cardigan, or SulovesSew’s pretty Alice top! It seems like a natural next step, perhaps. (And another excuse to buy special buttons!)

I already have a mini-list of things I’d love to try when I get good! Like the Winterberry hat-and-gloves set by Ms. Cleaver. Elbow-length gloves! Perfect for my Lady Grey. And socks! So many of you make amazingly warm-looking socks yourself! I’m impressed. How about Kristen’s sweater for her husband – definitely a labour of love! Wouldn’t Mr Sewaholic look great in something like this? (Although let’s get through his Christmas shirt first…which as you can see I have nothing new to report on!)

However, there are only so many hours in the day. Do I have the time (and more importantly, the patience) to learn something new? Will it be fun or frustrating? Will I end up with a ton of knitting UFOs to keep my sewing UFOs company? Where do I even get nice quality yarn and not something that will pill right away?

What about crochet? Karen from Did You Make That crocheted the cutest little snood as her first project. She says it was easy, fast and doesn’t unravel! Sounds like a good place to start.

I’d like to begin with little knit hats or scarves. Something that’s fairly likely to turn out useful and wearable! I imagine myself turning out cute knitted hats to match with different wintery outfits. Maybe a looped circle scarf to wear with Lady Grey?

Do you knit or crochet? Which would you recommend? If I want to learn to make knitted things, where should I start? Your feedback is much appreciated!

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36 Responses to Life after Sewing: Knitting? Crochet?

  1. Jeni December 11, 2010 at 6:26 am #

    I can knit and crochet and would say crochet is easiest to pick up, but knitting gives you an entire world of great things you can make! If you want to learn to knit, I would suggest the following:

    1. Join Ravelry at https://www.ravelry.com/account/login – not necessarily the place to learn knitting, but once you get started, the forums are awesome for asking questions and getting help
    2. Look for a Stitch ‘n Bitch group in your area at http://stitchnbitch.org/ – great for meeting experience and lovely knitters and they usually will teach people for free (or for cake/drinks/thanks)
    3. Get a good reference book – Stitch Nation by Debbie Stoller is pretty good, as is the Vogue Knitting: The Ultimate Knitting Book

    You can also find all kinds of great YouTube videos to help you out.

    Good luck! Will look forward to seeing your first knitted project!

  2. Misty December 11, 2010 at 6:28 am #

    Oh, something I know stuff about! I actually knit AND crochet. I started crocheting first, and it is faster for me, but I find that there are not as many nice garments that can be made with crochet. They generally turn out looking like tablecloths or doilies. However, I have made some beautiful doilies for family and friends with thread crochet, so everything has its place. For the most part, I really only crochet now when making baby blankets for people.

    Knitting, on the other hand, is much more versatile and results in a more modern-looking finished object. I definitely recommend starting with a small project or two to practice your stitches, but then make whatever you like when you’re comfortable knitting and purling. I learned the basics from a friend and then everything else I’ve picked up from following patterns and looking things up online.

    You should definitely join Ravelry.com because it’s a huge wealth of information on patterns, yarns, and everything knit and crochet related. There are reviews of patterns and yarns, so you can learn from other people’s experiences before jumping in on your next project. There is also a huge database of free patterns to choose from, a marketplace with people selling yarn they no longer want/need, and all kinds of discussions and groups.

    There are usually at least a few yarn shops in every large city, but you can also order online. I tend to order online because the variety is so much larger than what you can find in a small local yarn shop. I’m not sure about the yarn scene in Vancouver, but Seattle is apparently a fantastic place for local yarn shops, so if you ever head down the coast you should plan to go yarn shopping while you’re there. I lived in Seattle for 4 years, but alas, that was when I was a very poor college student and I hadn’t started knitting or crocheting yet.

  3. woolcat December 11, 2010 at 6:31 am #

    I knit and just learned to crochet. The nice thing about yarny crafts is that they are portable. You can knit a row or two while you wait for the kettle to boil or the bus to arrive! I find I spend a lot more time knitting than sewing, purely because I don’t have a dedicated space for my machine, so sewing means getting out the machine, setting up, doing a little sewing and then putting it all away so my family does not get irate!

    Knitting is (once you get the hang of it) relaxing and fun. So is crochet! I like knitting because I find it a lot more versatile – there are still not many crocheted sweaters out there that I would want to have – although crochet is attracting some really good designers recently and some nice things are popping up.

    Of course, you should join Ravelry right away, because it is FAB for finding patterns – and getting people’s feedback on them. I like the elbow length gloves idea – start with some long fingerless mitts maybe, there are lots of great patterns for those. Or a cute hat. Check out Knitty.com for some fun and quirky free patterns that are graded by difficulty. You are in Vancouver so check out Urban Yarns or Three Bags Full for seriously nice yarn and good help!

    Also, just think what a few knitted accessories could add to your brownie points for me made march….

  4. Samina December 11, 2010 at 6:31 am #

    I’ve been knitting for 10 years & it’s become as much a part of how I define myself as your sewing does you. I think you’ll find that rather than taking away from sewing time, you’ll find that it’s great filler for those moments when you don’t a big block of time to give to sewing. Knitting can be frustrating, just as sewing can be. It’s also wonderfully & tactilely satisfying.

    If you’ve not joined Ravelry.com, do so now. It’s the fibery version of patternreview.com & it’s free. Lots of great yarn & project reviews, along with forums galore. There are also some great youtube videos on various techniques out there. There are also some great yarn sources in Canada. Elann.com has great yarns at fabulous prices.

    I’ll be happy to answer any other Q via email.

  5. Mandy December 11, 2010 at 6:58 am #

    I do knit! I also recommend joining Ravelry.com, you can find me there as Flycello. It’s such a great source of project ideas… Beware though, because once I joined, I was totally addicted. Also, yarn is super yummy and pretty and squishy but the really nice stuff is not so affordable. So be warned and go find a LYS (local yarn store) and get some more inspiration!

  6. Amy December 11, 2010 at 7:06 am #

    I knit and crochet and I agree with the ladies above, knitting is much more versatile if you’re planning on making clothing once you get going. Crochet looks a lot more handmade, which is fine for blankets and scarves, but not necessarily what you’re looking for in a cardigan or jumper!

    Get yo’self on Ravelry, it’s an amazing resouce and a great way to get started with plenty of free patterns and help on the forums. Youtube is great for videos if you’re planning on teaching yourself the basics, I would find a beginners pattern on Ravelry and then youtube search for video demonstrations of all the stitches you’ll need – cast on, knit and purl most likely to begin with.

    I think knitting is a great idea for you as sewing related things are your full time job, if you’re anything like me it’ll be nice to relax with something creative that isn’t related to sewing! It’ll give you a break, whilst still being creative!

  7. Mary December 11, 2010 at 7:15 am #

    I’ve been knitting and crocheting for many many years as you know and actually have some vintage patterns. My knitting patterns go back to the 1930′s and 1940′s and crochet patterns to the 1960′s and 1970′s. Bed jacket patterns would make great little sweaters to wear with vintage dresses. You are welcome to borrow them if they interest you.
    I crocheted a jacket in the early 70′s that was a favourite of mine. It was hip length and polka dotted – looked better than it sounds. I also just got all my knitting needles returned to me so if you need some I probably have them. Most of my rather extensive yarn stash is too fine for hand knitting but I do have some double knit wools that you might be interested in while you are learning.
    “Wool and Wicker” in Steveston is a lovely little yarn shop with beautiful yarns.
    I have to agree with “woolcat”, yarn crafts are great because they are portable. I used to take my projects with me when I had to spend time in waiting room, while my girls were at music and dance classes etc.

  8. Tanit-Isis December 11, 2010 at 7:17 am #

    I feel similarly torn. I was actually a competent crochetist back in high school, and did learn the basics of knitting from my mom, and there are some amazing projects out there (and I hear fabulous things about Ravelry all the time). But I need another hobby like I need a hole in the head. And the memory of my mom’s perpetual was of knit UFOs haunts me…

  9. Mary December 11, 2010 at 7:21 am #

    I knit and crochet. I learned to crochet from my Grandma when I was about 5 years old, which I never fully appreciated the patience she must have had until I tried to teach my daughter to crochet! My 2nd grade teacher taught me to knit during lunch (teachers in the 60′s did stuff like that!) I agree that you should start with things that are quick and easy to build your confidence. Ravelry is a great site to join and there is a wealth of free knitting and crochet patterns to be had. There are alot of great designers, like Lily Chin, who have really started to produce some fantastic crocheted garment patterns. I wish we were closer…we could start a stitch and @!$%^ group! Good luck on learning new crafts. Just be patient with yourself and remember it takes time. I know you’ll be a natural!

  10. Ms.Cleaver December 11, 2010 at 7:27 am #

    Obviously you know I love to knit and I’ve begun to dabble in crochet, but like Misty said, there are fewer good garment patterns for crochet.

    I too love the portability of knitting – I take mine everywhere and you can do it a bit at a time. Scarves wouldn’t be my first recommendation because they get boring and take a long time to do, so hats might be a better place to start or a cowl, which is like a scarf, but shorter and in the round.

    Knitting shops are good places to learn and I’d especially recommend looking up knitting circles in your area (Ravelry is a good place to look).

    We all need new hobbies like holes in the head, but sometime when you see those pretty things, you start thinking a hole in the head might not be too bad :)

  11. Ms.Cleaver December 11, 2010 at 7:28 am #

    A follow up – it looks like there’s a Vancouver BC group that meets at the following places/times:

    7pm EVERY Thursday at Cafe d L‚Äôorangerie (70th and Granville in Vancouver) — @ 8pm we have a show/share/question session with everyone

    7pm EVERY Monday at Bean Around the World (Main and 49th).

  12. Farah December 11, 2010 at 7:34 am #

    Yes! you should totally learn to knit! I have been crocheting since i was a girl, and taught myself to knit about 7 years ago. I was an OBSESSED knitter, before i became an obsessed sewer. My yarn stash is bigger than my fabric stash…

    One thing to remember, while you can totally teach yourself to knit using youtube and books, knitting is hard, and slow compared to sewing. Don’t bite off more than you can chew at first, try lots of easy projects first so you don’t get discouraged. Once you are comfortable with it, then try a sweater or something big. I started with baby sweaters since they are smaller. The first time i made a grown-up sweater i was do discouraged at how long it took to make. Now that i can do complicated patterns, I find that cabled or lace patterns keep my interest more. I really think my obsession switched form knitting to sewing simply because i wanted faster gratification.

  13. Joanie December 11, 2010 at 8:16 am #

    Yes. I’m completely on board with you. I can make a mean garter stitch scarf but that’s about it. I’ve actually been looking through http://www.lionbrand.com lately for free patterns but haven’t actually tried anything yet. I’m crazy busy too and barely have time to sew but that will change somewhat in about a week. I’m latching on to your talented readers’ comments. Thanks for the post.

  14. Beth (SunnyGal Studio) December 11, 2010 at 8:20 am #

    I tried to learn to knit a few years ago, and I hated it. To me it seems too slow, kind of fiddly and not really very entertaining. So despite loving to learn new things (golf, languages, baking) I decided to skip the knitting and keep with expanding my sewing skills. Some people are not cut out (ha ha) for knitting and I must be one of them.
    However I do regret that I did not learn from my grandmother, she was a champion knitter and crochet master, as well as needlepoint, embroidery etc. I have many heirlooms made by her, christmas stockings, tablecloths, blankets that she created from yarn, and some furniture that she did the needlepoint. The good thing about knitted and crocheted items is that they can be kept and passed down to others.

  15. Clare December 11, 2010 at 8:26 am #

    Definitely give both a go – both are very soothing in a more static way than sewing! I did a crochet workshop this year and really enjoyed it and have been getting better at knitting the last few weeks too. After really basic scarves, and the chunky hats you saw on my blog, I made my first sweater (Owls by Kate Davies – must put photos up!) I love that I got to choose the wool, the sizing and that I got to learn new techniques. Even though there was this feeling that maybe after all that effort I wouldn’t wear what I’d made, it’s now my current favourite and warmest item of clothing! I always thought knitting was beyond me but now I’ve mastered the basics, figuring out more complicated techniques seems doable with patience and concentration. I’m sure you’d love knitting even though it takes longer to see results than sewing.

  16. Gabriella December 11, 2010 at 8:32 am #

    I saw that a few others commenters recommended ravelry.com, and I agree. Even if you decide not to take up knitting/crochet it is a wonderful source of inspiration! As for where to start I have a philosophy: don’t limit yourself. If you want to start with a typical beginners pattern as a garter stitch scarf, then go ahead. But if you are more intrigued by a pattern that looks more advanced I really think you should have a go. Who is to decide what is easy and what is difficult? Anyway, a good place to go to for how-to’s is knittinghelp.com. Good luck!

  17. indigorchid December 11, 2010 at 8:54 am #

    Wow, so many great comments! I’ll try to keep mine brief:
    - Ravelry is a must.
    - I’d say start with a real yarn-store. You can feel the yarns!
    - Also work your way up from smaller, easier projects (look in the pattern – the less stitches you need to know, the better; as in knit stitch, purl sitch, decreasing, and casting off), to bigger or more complex project (using cabling, yarn’s over (yo), lace). Patterns on ravelry often have difficulty ratings.
    - Like several people have pointed out, yarn-projects are portable, and make great commuting and watching-television projects. You really can knit a row here and a row there, and progress!
    - I suspect you’re similar to me: patient, neat, looking for really nice looking end projects right from the get-go. For this reason I think even your first projects will turn out really nicely, and I say… get nice yarn. I’m in the “nice yarn is totally worth it and makes the end product look so much better”- camp. I love my wool yarns.

    Good luck! I’m conviced you’ll do great, and I can’t wait to see them!

  18. Sherry December 11, 2010 at 9:14 am #

    Yes, learn to knit! Join Ravelry! I learnt as a child, left it alone for a few years and took it up again recently – maybe now I’m older I have more patience! It is more portable, and you can do a row here and there when you have a moment – I knit at the bus stop! Be warned it does take longer – a cardigan will take about a month of knitting frequently, but still having a life! Also it can be hard to fit as you go, and can be annoying when you get to the end and find it does not fit after all that work. But you can unravel it and start again, Yes I have done that!
    My advice is to buy good quality yarn too. The ones I made that aren’t, I never wear – all that work wasted….

  19. julia December 11, 2010 at 9:24 am #

    Yes, Ravelry, go there, NOW! I can’t tell you how many times I’ve wished there was a Ravelry for sewing. I find knitting or crocheting myself a sweater or accessory way easier than sewing me one. I guess, it will be frustrating and interesting at the same time, just as learning how to sew is for me. But I think the crafts are very complementary. Not only because you can make yourself an entire outfit this way, but also because knitting/crocheting is portable and can be done in other situations than sewing (I work on easy mindless projects while watching TV, when I am tired, on the train etc).

  20. Sarah December 11, 2010 at 10:15 am #

    I have major knit envy seeing all the talented knit and crochet projects from everyone, let me tell you!! I have recently started to crochet again after a long absence and it’s very satisfying. I like smaller projects, like hats and fun granny squares. I’m very, very lucky to have my amazing Knitting Queens to knit items for me.

    I agree with joining Ravelry. I’m on there and it’s really fun! There are loads of free patterns to try (both knit and crochet) and terrific forums for advice and chat.

    Check out Kim Hargreaves, Cecily Glowik MacDonald, and Joan McGowan-Michael. They are incredible knit designers!

    PS: I have my Pendrell pattern and I can’t wait for the sew-along! :) I’m really going to stretch myself and make mine out of a knit! This one, actually: http://www.fabric.com/ProductDetail.aspx?ProductID=9f94de8a-444b-4ed6-8a85-1c9cc011d41e

  21. G December 11, 2010 at 10:21 am #

    I second Mandy. I’m Ghainskom on Ravelry… I like the look of knitted garments more than crochetted ones. I also think knitting is more versatile.

  22. Amy December 11, 2010 at 10:43 am #

    When you join Ravelry, look me up. My user name is quixoticpixels. It sounds like you’ve been given a lot of great advice. I second the suggestion that you look up a local stitch and bitch group, i.e. a knitting club. I’ve been part of one for over ten years and have learned so much from my friends. You might also try taking a class from a knitting shop. If you ever head over to Seattle for some shopping, email me and I’ll take you on a tour of all the fibery places :)

  23. Jessica December 11, 2010 at 10:56 am #

    I do both, and I agree that crochet is easier to learn… it’s what I learned first after several failed attempts at knitting. What finally got me knitting was learning to knit continental style (basically, you hold the yarn in your left hand instead of right.) I’m right handed, but I couldn’t handle juggling the needles for the other way – and continental is much faster anyway. I learned from videos online (knittinghelp.com.)

    I can’t do either much anymore – I have tendinitis (not caused by, but irritated by knitting) and can’t afford to let something mess with my piano playing, since that’s how I make a living, but I still love it! There are tons of vintage pattern books out there for making great vintage inspired sweaters that I think you would like (and they aren’t as popular as vintage sewing, since the gauge is often small, so they aren’t as pricey!)

  24. Michelle December 11, 2010 at 10:56 am #

    Hello there,

    I am a crocheter and I would say definetly learn how to knit. I love to crochet and am really good at making afghans and baby items, but if you want something that you can wear knitting is the way to go. I am so jealous of people who can knit a beautiful sweater or gloves. I have tried to teach myself a few times to knit, but almost everytime the yarn and needles ended up being thrown at the wall in frustration. That is my advice.
    Thanks for a wonderful blog and good luck!
    Michelle

  25. Emma December 11, 2010 at 11:00 am #

    I love crochet, but it’s true, it’s harder (but not impossible) to make lovely garments with it. Things tend to be bulky. That being said, I’m still making a gorgeous crochet dress right now.

    Crochet is faster and easier to learn than knitting. I’d recommend for either one to a) get a Debbie Stoller book to learn from or b) take classes at a local yarn store (for Vancouver I think both Three Bags Full and Urban Yarns have regular classes. If you need a local yarn buddy I’m happy to stitch and bitch! :) And I agree with everyone else about getting on Ravelry.

    I still need to learn how to knit…

  26. Linnea December 11, 2010 at 11:44 am #

    I know how to knit, crochet, and sew! I’ll tell you this: it’s a lot of craft to balance, if you know what I mean. I’m sure there are people out there who can allot the perfect amount of time for each (if such a thing exists) but for me, I find I’m sewing for a few months, knitting for a few others… consequently I have a lot of projects that are over two years old (even in the sewing category!) Having said that caveat, I think it’s incredibly awesome to do both. Here’s a neat idea: knitting ribbing for cuffs and the button band, but using fabric for the body! You can make quite a combination of things. And it is perfect if you live in a seasonally cold place. I’m a little jealous of the seasonal cold you’re having. Socal is in the 70′s F this weekend

  27. Hatty December 11, 2010 at 12:30 pm #

    Knitting seems great in many ways but after knitting a few baby things for my son and one pullover for myself, I ran out of steam on the second and never finished it. People say that you can knit anywhere, but in the beginning you have to follow the pattern or you lose your place. I gave up halfway through my second pullover (which had one central cable running down it!). I found it grindingly slow and I’m not planning to start again any time soon. I sew everything I wear except for knits (except when I can sew them if you see what I mean!), and will keep on going. Don’t do it! You are still quite a new sewist, why not focus on that? Concentrate on your pattern design!

  28. Susan - Knitters Delight December 11, 2010 at 12:46 pm #

    I’m a knitter….of course a blog called Knitters Delight probably gave that away. lol. I cannot crochet to save my life. Except for some borders around a knit project, I have no crochet skills whatsoever. Luckily, I love how knitted projects look and don’t feel like I’m missing out on the crochet end of crafting.

  29. Ella December 11, 2010 at 2:02 pm #

    I knit, and can crochet but rarely do. If you are going to start with one, I’d choose knitting, because there are many more resources out there to get you started, and more knitted garments vs crochet. Crochet is faster once you know what you are doing, but most of the patterns I’ve found are not for garments.

  30. Louise December 11, 2010 at 3:15 pm #

    I can knit, crochet, trichot, embroider, and weave. I have attempted tatting, beading and spinning. My preference is sewing and embroidery. Try skills in areas that appeal to you such as those allied to garment construction. Knitted caps are good if you live in a cold climate. Some knitted garments are not as warm as you expect. Always consider how things will be laundered before beginning them. Nobody ever appreciates the enormous amount of effort that goes into a knitted garment that you give them. If you want a break from dresses then I recommend making accessories that coordinate with your wardrobe. Or make things for your home. Or Mr S. Or make things for the competition market, such as State Fairs.

  31. Moeno December 11, 2010 at 6:22 pm #

    I am also a sewer and not much a knitter but I’m a fan of dabbling. I noticed most people recommended knitting and I’m on the same boat. Knitting has so many options. It is surprisingly easy, especially with all the video resources on the internet (http://www.knittinghelp.com/). And Local Yarn Stores are so helpful if you ever run into a problem.

    My one problem with is that it’s addicting. If I start a knitting project I end up not sewing for a while since I don’t really like to have more than one project going at a time. I recommend only either knitting or crocheting. It’s even hard to make enough time to get to sew everything you want to!

  32. Whitney December 11, 2010 at 7:25 pm #

    Hi there! I just wanted to say that I support your desire to become multi-craftual! I am primarily a knitter but I also know how to crochet and am learning how to sew. I still find the most enjoyment from knitting but sewing is quickly gaining ground! I never really got to a point where I enjoyed crochet, but I do find it valuable as an addition to my knitting. I think it’s pretty hard to tell if you will like knitting or crochet as compared to sewing.You’ll just have to try it and see. Knitting is a lot slower than sewing, so if you are after quick results it can be frustrating. But if you are into a tactile, relaxing(mostly) experience that you can do pretty much anywhere, then the yarn arts are defiantly something to try. I taught myself how to knit from the book Stitch and Bitch by Debbie Stoller. I got it just fine from reading and trial and error but other people learn better from watching videos or going to classes…I think you just have to know how you learn best. And I also agree with everyone else who has suggested Ravelry. It is hands down the best knitting and crochet resource/community on the web. If/when you do join, I’m wtjvet99 if you want a new friend!

  33. Kristen December 12, 2010 at 1:53 am #

    Thanks so much for including my husband’s sweater! I’m so glad you liked it! I definitely agree with those above who mentioned Ravelry – it is my GO-TO site when I want to plan and research my next project. So much inspiration there! I’m Kristenmakes, so find me! I think you’ll enjoy knitting – it is fiddly at first, but once your fingers learn their motions you can zone out, relax, watch tv, chat with friends, all while knitting. In that way it can be a very therapeutic way to keep your hands busy!

  34. Bridget December 12, 2010 at 3:40 am #

    I taught myself to crochet when I left uni and found myself with time in the evening, it was easy to pick up and simple to make things with but I found a lot of crochet patterns fairly limiting. A year or so down the line I picked up knitting and then I found sewing and I’ve never really touched crochet since then. Personally I feel that it’s useful to know how to crochet but you will get so much more joy out of knitting (plus it uses less wool which is a big advantage when you try and make a sweater). These days I have knitting for watching TV or films with friends and small projects for travelling, sewing is what I do when I have time to sit down at a machine, but when I get that time things can be produced much faster.

  35. Casey December 12, 2010 at 5:37 am #

    Well,you already know I like to knit! ;) I’ve tried crochet–and am fairly okay at it–but prefer the final look of a knit garment (and also just like the process a lot more). My mom taught me the basics of knitting when I was younger, which I promptly forgot, and then picked up again in about the space of an afternoon using online tutorials. It’s really easy, and I didn’t even really start with a “beginner” project (I think I’ve made one scarf/start project in my entire “knitting career”–and I don’t think that was my first project). I just jumped in! I’d say if you’re interested in trying it, arm yourself with a good pattern, some reference material (Stich ‘n Bitch is still one of the best knitting books, imho. Or for online tutorials check out KnittingHelp.com) and some decent (non arcrylic! ;) yarn. Once you have the basic knit and purl stitches down, you’re golden!

    ‚ô• Casey | blog

  36. amber December 14, 2010 at 9:47 am #

    I love seeing other folks knitted projects, but like others have said, I need another hobby like I need a hole in the head. Ha!

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