How can one truly understand their skill unless they know its history? I asked myself this today and realized I didn’t know the history of my own obsession…crochet. So I have done some research to satisfy my own curiosity, and thought I’d share with you what I found. This only covers a very small amount of what I read and accumulated in my mind, but I think they are the most interesting facts about this craft.
According to Wikipedia, the term crochet derives from the French term croc or croche meaning hook. Crocheting, often confused with knitting, is similar to that craft in that it consists of pulling loops through other loops to create a fabric out of yarn or thread. Instead of knitting needles, a crochet hook is used, and one loop is active at a time, rather than many like in knitting.Although there are many theories about where crochet started, there is no real evidence of its practice before the 1800s in Europe. The earliest written reference to the craft is in The Memoirs of a Highland Lady by Elizabeth Grant in which shepherds knitting is mentioned. That work was written in 1812. Other theories and references have been found, but no concrete evidence of its invention. Many believe it was probably invented much earlier, but using a finger bent like a hook instead of an actual tool. Because of the crafts’ simplicity of its basics, theorists think it must have been used much earlier than we think.
During the 1800s, hooks ranged from bent needles in a cork handle, a very primitive and inexpensive version used by poor Irish lace workers during the Great Irish Famine; to more expensively crafted silver, brass, steel, bone and ivory hooks that seemed to be more decoration for the lady’s hands than a useful tool. Nowadays there are several different types of crochet hooks in many different sizes, depending on what you are creating. An uncountable number of different stitches and patterns can be created using crochet.
Fashions created in crochet have changed numerous times since its discovery. Queen Victoria even became fascinated by it, starting out purchasing many pieces, and then ultimately learning to crochet herself. Crochet can be used for so many different styles; it has become a very versatile craft to learn. From brightly colored yarns made into dishcloths, scarves, stuffed toys, hats and more to bright white thread looped into beautifully ornate doilies and wraps, everyone is sure to find a crocheted item that suits them.