August 2008

A Brief History of Crochet

Like knitting, no one knows exactly when people started to crochet. Although some believe that it has ancient origins, no samples of ancient crocheted items have been found. Some believe that crochet is based on Tambour embroidery, which was done on very fine fabric. However, this theory has not been proven.

During the Victorian era lace making and wearing lace was very popular. Bobbin lace and needle lace were both very complicated and time consuming. Although crochet used more thread than any of these two techniques, it was easier and faster to work. During the potato famine in mid 1800s, women in Ireland and north of France worked on intricate crocheted lace that was sold to new emerging middle class and in the Americas providing much needed income for poor families. If you have seen the intricate Irish crochet pieces, you will notice that they consist of different shapes of flowers and leaves. It appears that each Irish woman or child was an expert in one area. For instance, one was an expert in making flowers and the other one was making only leaves. The third was an expert in putting all these pieces together, creating a lovely Irish crochet piece.

Hooks were crafted from different material. The ones that the poor Irish women used were made of bent needles in a cork handle. Others were made out of bone, ivory, silver and brass for wealthier people.

Some people hold their crochet hook like a fork. This technique makes a woman’s hand look more feminine. However, it seems that it will cause carpal tunnel whereas holding the hook in the palm of the hand is less taxing on hands.

It is also noteworthy to say that no machine has been invented to do crochet yet. Crochet is still a cottage industry in all parts of the world and it has seen resurgence in the 21st century.

For more information about history of crochet, check out:

Nazanin S. Fard

Needlecraft University

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