Crochet Vs. Knit Sweaters – 5 Key Differences

Knitting and crochet are popular hobbies that magically weave yarn into fabric, creating beautiful clothes, household items, and artworks. Although the two crafts can each produce a cozy sweater from the same yarn, the results won’t look or feel the same. Let’s look at why a crochet sweater is so different from a knit sweater.

A crochet and a knit sweater are different because the tools and techniques used for crochet and knitting create distinctive textures, patterns, and fabric weights. Crochet sweaters are usually more textured, thicker and heavier, while knit sweaters tend to be lighter and easier to drape. However, there are exceptions to this stereotype, so make sure to keep reading.

crochet vs. knit sweater

Crochet and knitting are trendy, with everyone from celebrities to the boy next door producing hats, scarves, and cup-warmers. If you’re keen to start working with yarn, it’s critical to distinguish one craft from the other and how to analyze a knit and a crochet item. Let’s look at the differences between a crochet and a knit sweater.

What Is The Difference Between A Crochet And A Knit Sweater?

To understand the difference between a crochet and a knit sweater, it’s essential to first learn the differences between crochet and knitting. This table summarizes the differences:

Yarn Needle
Single crochet
Double crochet
Triple Crochet
KnittingYarnPair of straight needles
Circular needles
Double pointed needles
Yarn Needle
Yarn Over

Crochet and knitting both involve repetitive stitching, winding and knotting actions to create fabric out of a ball of yarn. Crafters enjoy the gentle repetition, finding it creative, meditative, and relaxing.

Many people find crochet more straightforward for beginners because you use a single hook and work with a single stitch at a time.

Crochet begins by creating a chain of stitches. You then use the hook to pull one or more loops of yarn through each stitch, creating an astonishing number of different patterns. The advantage over knitting is that you close off a stitch at a time before moving on to the next loop; you have a smooth edge to the fabric resembling a series of knots.

The secrets to successful crochet are first to keep the tension of your work consistent, that is, making sure each stitch is the same size and tightness. Second, crochet is based on the number of stitches to create patterns, so you need to ensure that you don’t make or lose stitches as you work.

On the other hand, knitting begins by casting on stitches, creating a row of open loops on one needle. You pull yarn through each stitch with the other needle to make another loop. You transfer the new stitches onto the second needle as you work, so you always have a row of open, active, or live stitches.

You create a knitted fabric by transferring stitches from one needle to the other, creating new loops by pulling the yarn through. Where the needle enters the stitch and makes a loop will make different shaped stitches (known as knit/plain and purl) and thus the fabric’s pattern. These two stitches can form an array of colorful and textural designs.

You cast off or close off the stitches when you are finished with a section or color.
Not all knitted items are handmade – knitting machines are available for home and commercial use. Most knits in stores are made by machines, which accounts for their smooth, even surface.

But What About Sweaters?

When it comes to crocheting a sweater versus knitting a sweater, there are a variety of topics to discuss.

  • Which yarn should be used? It actually does make a difference depending on the craft.
  • Which tools and techniques are easier? It may depend on your learning style and opinion.
  • Which is cheaper? This question is very subjective based on materials, but there is one overall winner.
  • Which uses less yarn? This goes hand in hand with the above question.
  • Which is easier to learn? It may depend on your learning style and opinion.
  • Which will make a sweater more quickly? There is one clear winner on this.
  • And finally, how do you tell the difference between the two?

Let’s dive a bit deeper into these questions.

Crochet Kids Sweater

Which Yarn Needs to be Used?

Because crochet and knitting use the same materials, people get confused between the two crafts. Both crochet and knitting use yarn, which can be made from a variety of fibers.

Yarn can be synthetically produced or spun from animal or plant fibers and comes in balls or skeins labeled according to the dye batch and the weight or thickness of the yarn.

The decision around which yarn to use doesn’t depend on the craft but the crafter. A knitter or crochet enthusiast may buy yarn to suit a specific pattern, but equally because of the gorgeous hand-dyed colors or the fluffy texture of mohair.

But when it comes to making sweaters specifically, there is something to keep in mind:

To get a nice looking, well fitting sweater, crocheters will often have to use a lighter weight yarn, while knitters can use any weight, from lighter to heavier.

This is due to the nature of knitting and crochet. Crochet creates denser stitches, so to make a nice sweater, you will usually need a lighter weight yarn.

People often say that knit sweaters are better because they are more lightweight. This may be a stereotype, but it is not necessarily true.

It is entirely possible to make beautiful, lightweight crochet sweaters that aren’t too stiff and bulky. You just have to make sure you choose the right yarn. Here is more information on the best yarn for crochet sweaters.

Which Tools Are Easier to Use?

Crochet and knitting each use a separate set of tools to achieve the finished fabric.

Crochet Hooks

You crochet using a single hook held in your dominant hand. Crochet hooks come in various materials, including aluminum, steel, wood, bamboo, plastic, acrylic, and glass.
Crochet hooks are also available in varying sizes.

The hook size used will be determined by the stitch size and the weight of the yarn. In other words, you will use a smaller or larger hook to create a suitable gauge or consistency of the fabric.

However, when it comes to sweaters specifically, the unique hooks used in crochet does have an advantage.

Crochet hooks are not limited to any particular size or shape. You can work in any direction, at any time. You can easily combine different sweater pieces together with a crocheted seam, and then continue working.

It is also much easier to create lace with a crochet hook. Crochet lace sweaters can be easy enough for beginners to make—which isn’t true for knitting.

Midsummer Cardigan

Knitting Needles

Because knitting is different from crochet, you use a pair of long, straight needles at a time, holding one in each hand and moving a set of stitches and loops from one needle to the other.

Like crochet hooks, you can find knitting needles in various materials, but aluminum, brass, and nickel are the most common. Because you are carrying a series of stitches on one needle, the surface of the needle needs to be smooth, and the needles need to be strong enough to carry the weight of the fabric.

When it comes to knitting sweaters, though, you often need to use special needles to knit in the round. These are called circular needles, and they feature a cord connecting two needles together.

The cord allows the project to be bigger because it holds many more loops at a time than regular straight needles. However, to me this is a downside. You are very much confined to the needles you choose for the project.

Because sweaters are longer projects, this tool is also more difficult because you have to be 100% sure you don’t lose any of those loops when you set your project down for later.

Which is Cheaper to Make?

Another important question to address is which is cheaper to make: a crochet sweater or knit sweater?

The truth is, this is very subjective. It depends on which yarn you use. A crochet sweater may be much cheaper if you use a “value’ yarn, and a knitter uses a “luxury” yarn.

But the key to really knowing which is cheaper is by answering another question: which uses less yarn overall?

This is where knitting wins out. Because knit stitches are less dense, they use less yarn.

So if you were to make a crochet and knit sweater out of the same exact yarn, the knitted version would be cheaper to make because you wouldn’t need as much yarn to finish the project.

Which is faster to make?

Although knitting wins when it comes to price, crochet wins it comes to speed.

Crochet stitches have much more HEIGHT than knitted ones. Overall, crochet is much faster than knitting. (See exactly how long it takes to crochet a sweater based on real data!)

So it just makes sense that, when making a long project like a sweater, crochet would have the edge.

And you know what they say – “time is money.” So if you value your time, maybe crochet sweaters really are cheaper! 😉

How to Tell the Difference in the Fabric

A knit and a crochet item will look and feel different, even if both are sweaters. If you’re not familiar with either craft, this section will help you figure out the difference!

Crochet Sweater Characteristics

You can usually tell that an item is crocheted by the direction of the stitches: crochet stitches go back and forth, with horizontal lines noticeable.

Crocheted fabric is usually thicker and denser because each stitch is closed before pulling up the next one—but if you use lighter weight yarn for a crochet sweater, this may not be the case.

Crochet is also very structural. If you see an item with many decorative holes and shapes, like the classic Granny Square, it is probably crochet. It is much easier to create a wide variety of lace with crochet.

Knit Sweater Characteristics

Although you knit back and forth, most knitted items have a vertical V-shape pattern, depending on the stitch. This is the best way to determine if an item is knitted.

Knitted fabric is also generally more loosely textured than crochet. Traditionally, knitted fabric has a smoother, cleaner, surface.

Let’s take a look at the comparison I showed you at the beginning again. Can you see the smoothness of the knitting and the more horizontal “lines” of the crochet?

Both are uniquely beautiful in their own way. Only you can decide which you like better, and which is more worth it to learn!

Sweaters to Crochet

If you want to start on some beautiful crochet tops and sweaters that defy the stereotype of “stiff” and bulky, check out these patterns:

Sweaters to Knit

If you prefer to get into knitting sweaters, here are some patterns you might like:


Crochet and knit sweaters are both amazing projects to make. I am of course partial to crocheting, because it is faster and easier. However, knitting has its perks too—it uses less yarn, and it creates a very classic look. Whatever you decide to make, I hope your future sweaters turn out amazing!


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Happy Crocheting!

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