Converting fibre into fabric is a process involving many steps. The fibre is obtained from plants as in cotton and jute. Animal fibres include wool and silk. The process of spinning twists the fibres together to make yarn. Yarn is then woven into fabric.
Knitting and crocheting are both forms of weaving. Both are techniques for converting yarn into fabric. In both knitting and crocheting the process of creating the fabric and crafting the garment occur simultaneously. The fabric cannot be cut and stitched as in the case of woven fabric. Sweaters, shawls, wraps, hats, scarves, caps, mufflers, mittens and socks are some of the garments created by both knitting and crocheting. The garments are made by following a pattern, which uses abbreviations. Many decorative items
Weaving yarn into fabric is one of the oldest crafts known to man. It dates back to the Neolithic Age approx. 12,000 years ago.
Knitting and crocheting are comparatively newer crafts. The origins of knitting have been lost in time, but Egyptian socks, called Coptic socks have been found. These socks, knitted with elaborate patterns date back to the 1st century CE. However the level of proficiency exhibited indicates that knitting was known to man long before that.
Crochet is a comparatively new craft. It was developed in the 19th century. Crocheting was introduced to Ireland in 1840 to help combat the famine that was devastating the region. Ireland still has a flourishing crocheting industry, centred in Cork.
Fabric is woven by interlacing two sets of yarn. The yarns cross each other, usually at right angles. The length wise yarn is called the warp and the cross wise yarn called weft.
There are two techniques in knitting. In weft knitting yarn is looped in columns. The stitches used are knit, purl, plain, rib, pattern and double knits. The loops in warp knitting interlock along the length of the fabric. Waft stitches include tricot, raschel and Milanese. In knitting terms wale is a column of loops corresponding to the warp, while course is a crosswise row of loops that correspond to weft.
Crochet is a raft more closely related to embroidery. It is built on the basic chain stitch, but does not use a backing material.
Weaving has been produced through the ages using hand looms. The Industrial Revolution ushered in the era of the power loom. Fabric today is produces on a mass scale using power looms.
Knitting was and still is accomplished by the skilful use of two pointed needles. The fabric produced has a lot of stretch. Today knitting machines have become popular.
Crocheting uses a hooked needle. The fabric produced resembles lace. Today crocheting techniques have advanced so much that it is not easy to distinguish between lace works and crochet work. Crochet work is always done by hand. The hand movements involved are so intricate that machines cannot replicate them.
Both knitting and crocheting are techniques that involve manipulating loops of yarn. In weft knitting each loop in the row is dependent on the loop next to it. If one loop breaks a line of stitches will collapse creating a run. Warp knitting is more resistant to runs as the loops interlock along the length of the fabric.
In crochet work there are not many active loops, usually only one. The stitches are built one on top of the other. The only point susceptible to unravelling is the active loop.
As the world gets caught up in the mad rush to go somewhere and do something, these two crafts are highly endangered. There are active movements to encourage people to take up these forms of needlework. Knitting clubs and crocheting clubs are springing up everywhere and there is hope that these intricate, but useful crafts will continue to brighten our winters and grace our tables.