Saturday, April 15, 2006

The difference between knitting and cross stitching

I've thought about the difference between knitting and cross stitching a lot lately. I'm having a hard time putting words to my thoughts and I don't really have the luxury to sit down and write that much, as you can tell from my blog, I really wish is was more detailed, with more words, but hey! at least I have pictures most of the time. But now I have some extra time and so here we go. I don't know if y'all would agree. It'll be interesting to hear what you think.

Knitting and cross stitching are inherently different. There are a bunch of thing that they have in common.

  • They are both crafts.
  • They are both creative.
  • They are both relaxing.
  • They are both creative outlets.
  • They both use needles (although totally different needles).
  • They both use yarn.
  • They both have active on-line communities.
  • They both use one stitch as a foundation of the craft.

But here are things that are very different. Things that make it impossible for me to do both at the same time. Not at the same moment of course, but at the same period of time. I go through cross stitching periods, where I don't knit at all and knitting periods, where I don't cross stitch at all. I feel these limitations grow smaller and smaller. Right now I am at a place in my life where I don't have all my resources. I don't have all my stash and I'll have to make do with what I've got so that kind of forces a change. The biggest reason for the change is the internet. I find myself stitching a lot (for weeks and weeks) but then kind of stumbling across knitting websites and blogs and looking at what other people knit and then I'll have to do it too (not the same pattern but knitting in general). Then I cast on (often couple of small projects) but after awhile I get the yearn to cross stitch. Usually this happens after meeting my cross stitch buddies (Allt í kross) or after fun discussions on that group. So far cross stitch periods have been longer than knitting periods. This is quite normal considering that cross stitching is a lot slower process than knitting. If you are a knitter and read this then I can tell you that even the most complex knitting has nothing on a BAP XS. Big cross stitch projects take hundred of hours and with apprx. 15 hours at the most a week, this means months of work, only on one project. The upside is that there are numerous color changes so it is not monotonous and the downside is that there are nomerous color changes so you keep having to stop to rethread your needle, which slows you down considerably.

So the things that are different in cross stitch and knitting are:

  • Cross stitch is slower, even small projects take long time.
  • In cross stitch the main creative process usually occurs in the beginning. In knitting the creative process often occurs (and often unwillingly) after you begin.
  • Knitting is more stylish at the moment and has more superstars (e.g. Yarn Harlot, Debbie Stoller). Although cross stitching has it's own superdesigners (e.g. Mirabilia, Teresa Wentlzer, Maria Diaz), they are nowhere as big as the knitters.
  • Knitting has podcasts. You can talk about knitting.
  • Knitting has books. Now both crafts have pattern books but knitting has knitting books as well. Books that don't even have patterns in them at all. Books about the experience of knitting and even pattern books normally have more than just patterns and techniques. They often have stories, history and knitting related activities (what to do while knitting or movies, books with knitting in them).
  • Knitting is more versatile, while it has only one stitch (knit this purl as just knitting on the reverse), this one stitch can produse texture (e.g. pearl, cables, lace).
  • You can make your own knitting patterns, but you can not make more than the very simplest cross stitching patterns unless you have a computer program and a college degree in arts (or least natural talent in drawing).

As I am writing this it occurs to me that knitting and cross stitch has more in common than I previously thought. It also occurs to me that the difference of knitting and cross stitching can be described mathematically. You see, knitting is three dimensional, while cross stitching is two dimensional. This is the inhereted difference I was looking for. The extra dimension of knitting, the creation of three dimensional objects makes it much more functional activity. You can make things that people use. You actually make clothes, while in cross stitching you only make decorative things.

Did everyone know this but me? Can you point out more things in common or which are different between the two crafts?


kimananda said...

Hey, this is a great comparison. I've been cross stitching for ages, but have just relearned to knit (I knit a scarf years ago, and then forgot how I did it!) It's really interesting the idea of knitting being 3 dimensional. That's probably why I find it so much more difficult, as I don't think like that.

Juls said...

I tried once (about 8 years ago!) to undertake a microscopic piece of cross-stitch. It was mind-numbingly difficult for me and I simply could not keep track of all the colors involved. (Clearly there will be no fair isle knitting in my future). I made it 95% of the way through the cross stitch teddy bear...and then quit when I realized I had to go over the whole thing with an outline thread. Knitting on the other hand, seems to go much quicker for me and I can actually complete something!

Kari said...

Interesting. I like to work on a few different projects at the same time...a little knitting, a little crocheting, a little cross stitching, etc.
I have been working on a cross stitched blanket for a few years's one of those that you cross stitch all these squares then attach them when you are done.