Unraveling the truth
I've always wondered about the great divide between knitters and crocheters. Crocheters accuse knitters of being snobbish, and knitters claim crocheters are cheap. Really though, aren't we all on the same side? Don't we all love yarn?
One anti-crochet statistic I've seen thrown around quite a bit is that crocheting consumes three times as much yarn as knitting. Three times! I've even seen this claim made in print. (I'm referring to you, Yarn Harlot...with the utmost admiration and respect, of course. See page 118 of this fine book.) The implication—whether intentional or not—is twofold: (1) Crocheters waste yarn; and (2) Because of excessive yarn usage, crocheters can only afford to use cheap yarns.
Here's the thing: I don't believe it for a second. As a long-time crocheter and newbie knitter, I believe with every fiber of my being that crocheting does not use three times as much yarn as knitting. Yes, I'm willing to concede that, in general, crocheting does use more yarn than knitting. My guess would be on the order of one-third more, but certainly not three times more. I believe it, but I don't know it. Here at T4S HQ, we like to keep things scientific, so I'd say it's time for a little experiment.
Knitting and crocheting are two methods of forming fabric by interlocking loops of yarn. Knitting forms the loops using two straight needles, and crocheting forms the loops using a single hook. Crocheted fabric tends to be thicker and sturdier than knitted fabric, leading to the assumption that it contains more yarn than the same area of knitted fabric. The purpose of this experiment is to compare the amounts of yarn used in different knitted and crocheted fabrics.
Materials and Methods
Five 10 cm square swatches were constructed from acrylic worsted weight yarn. (The research team determined it was not necessary to sacrifice wool yarn for the sake of this experiment. However, several cries of "It burns! It burns us!" were overheard during swatch construction.) Each swatch was constructed using the methods as follows:
- single crochet
- double crochet
- knitted stockinette stitch
- knitted garter stitch
- plain tunisian crochet
6.00 mm metal crochet hooks and 6.00 mm metal knitting needles were used to construct the samples.
Finished samples had the beginning and ending yarn ends cut to a length of 2 cm. Each sample was weighed on a digital kitchen scale. Because the kitchen scale is accurate only to whole grams, the research team determined that the length of the yarn used also needed to be measured. The samples were then unraveled, and the length of the yarn was wound around a rectangle of cardboard and measured using a tape measure.
(The research team apologizes for the list format. Blogger would not properly render the research team's perfectly well-formed HTML table.)
- single crochet: 7 grams, 12.33 meters
- double crochet: 6 grams, 10.92 meters
- knitted stockinette: 4 grams, 9.10 meters
- knitted garter: 7 grams, 12.32 meters
- tunisian crochet: 7 grams, 13.10 meters
Knitted stockinette stitch clearly used the least amount of yarn out of all the samples tested. Interestingly, tunisian crochet, that strange love child of crochet and knitting, uses the most yarn. Single crochet and knitted garter stitch use roughly the same amount of yarn. Double crochet uses more yarn than knitted stockinette stitch, but less than either single crochet or knitted garter stitch.
In any case, no method of crochet tested in this sampling uses three times as much yarn as either knitted sample. Single crochet uses slightly more than one-third more yarn than knitted stockinette stitch. It should be noted that the research team found that the crocheted samples had a more pleasing feel when crocheted using 6.50 mm hooks. The single crochet swatch constructed using a 6.50 mm hook had exactly one-third more yarn in it than the knitted stockinette swatch made with 6.00 mm needles.
Disclaimer: All results are subject to human error. The research team crochets a bit more tightly than it knits.
Do you think Mythbusters will hire me now?