Knitting is a wonderful pastime that can accompany you throughout your life. But how hard is it to learn? It's important to understand that everyone varies in how long it takes to create a piece they're happy with. On average, it should take you 20 to 30 hours to learn how to knit well. This equates to about 2 weeks if you can knit just a couple of hours a day.
Sweaters are large and require quite a few rows and stitches. It takes hours and hours to finish. There are some amazing patterns out there, but these are not good initial projects. Knitting a size M sweater with standard needles (4 mm) can take 40-50 hours to finish.
It can be much more if it is a complicated multicolored pattern, but also less if you use large thick wool and it is only knitted in jersey point. Learning the basics usually doesn't take more than a few hours, but building muscle memory can take a while. After you've practiced enough, you'll learn to knit faster and your weave will become more even. Eventually, you don't even have to look at your hands while knitting.
It should only take a few hours to learn the mechanics of the fabric to assemble it, make basic stitches and finish it off.
To be able to knitat a good level, you have to spend some time practicing. By the time you've completed 2 simple projects, you should be knitting evenly and showing real progress. For example, Stefanie Japel leads a class called Knit Lab, where she explains the basics of knitting, starting with the supplies you'll need. Most patterns (such as linking) will explain what abbreviations they used (K%3d knit, P%3d purl, sl %3D slip, etc.).
It is possible to achieve a tight stitch through crochet; however, this may require you to master advanced techniques. It's horrible to have to unravel your fabric, but sometimes doing it and realizing what you were doing wrong can improve your skills to no end. Try both and you'll probably find that you prefer knitting for certain types of projects and crocheting for others. Once you are a fresh, calm and competent weaver, if you wish, you can work to increase your knitting speed. Everything I mentioned is what makes knitting such an amazing pastime that will stay with you throughout your life. There is always something new to learn, always new and exciting projects for get started, and it never gets boring.
Thank you for pointing out the link between women's rights and the popularity of knitting and other crafts.