Brief History of Crochet

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Where did crochet come from and what is its history?

The name of this hobby comes from the French word ‘crochet’, meaning ‘little hook’.

The method of weaving yarn to create fabric has been with us for centuries in all corners of the world – bare fingers, bone needles and wooden implements have all been used for this purpose. The word ‘crochet’ first appeared in the Dutch magazine Penélopé in 1823. The first English mention of clothing produced from fabric made from yarn being woven with a crochet hook appeared in the book Memoirs of a Highland Lady, written by Elizabeth Grant. Although it is difficult to establish precisely where modern crochet was born, indications point to its relationship with an ancient Chinese embroidery technique called tambour embroidery which was in 18th century France transformed into ‘crocheting in the air’.

Although the history of crochet developed differently in every country, it was always present – crochet pieces, and especially intricate lace, was present at every court in Europe and Asia where it was highly valued.

It was mainly made by women who passed down their knowledge orally from generation to generation.

The greatest European centers were Italy, France and Belgium. In time, regional schools began to identify themselves with their own unique techniques of producing lace of which the most famous was Irish, Venetian, Bruges, filet and shuttle lace. It was along with Irish immigrants that the art of lace was brought to America. After the First World War, interest in crochet fell markedly, the patterns published at this time being simplified versions of that of the previous century.

During the period 1940-1960, crochet work came back into favor, especially in the USA where publications appeared with colored doilies and home accessories. The colorful trend was continued during the 1960 and 1970s, after which interest tailed off once again. The fashion for crochet projects returned at the beginning of the 21st century with significantly more modern designs and more vibrant colors. The development of the internet has allowed knowledge to be gained quickly and easily – access to learning materials, patterns and tools has never been so easy.

Crochet knitwear has appeared in the collections of some of the most famous fashion designers, such as Christopher Kane or Iris Van Herpen, as well as on television (Project Runway). Websites such as Ravelry and Etsy allow crocheters to promote and sell their work.


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