Crochet allows you to create fabrics with intricate designs, such as
doilies, tablecloths, bedspreads and afghans. You can also crochet all
types of clothing and accessories such as bags, purses, wallets and
belts, as well as jewelry, embellishments and even toys.
With crocheting you only have one active loop on the hook at all times which allows you to create a vast variety of different shapes of fabric. Plus the stitches are formed in such a way that if one breaks from wear and tear, the others around it will still remain intact. The only time the stitches at the sides may come undone is when they are stretched and put under stress.
The Early History
Crochet has become quite popular over the last couple of centuries but no one knows for certain where or when it originated. There are some theories that it has been around for over 2,000 years, dating back to Before Christ.
But there is no real evidence or samples of crochet before the 1800's. The earliest written evidence dates back to 1812 to "The Memoirs of a Highland Lady" by Elizabeth Grant. The earliest published crochet patterns date back to 1824 which appeared in a magazine known as Penelope.
A possible reason why there is no prior evidence could be because crochet was known as "Shepherd's Knitting", plus the early crocheters did not have hooks, but instead they used a bent forefinger to pull the string through the loops. This would have resulted in larger stitches, which created a different fabric which may not have been recognized as crochet.
Thread work from ancient Egyptian tombs seem to resemble the work of crochet, as well as ancient fishing nets. The stitches resemble that of crocheted work done with fingers.
It is also said that in the 1500's nuns made needlepoint lace for Catholic Churches. They also taught crochet and it became an art only for the wealthy.
Later when the middle class began to experiment with lace crochet and were able to imitate the beautiful laces which only the wealthy could afford, the wealthy became upset and stated that the poor should stick with knitting the basic necessities. The middle class however, continued with their experiments, and so the wealthy began to look down upon crochet, stating that crochet was only for the lower classes.
When Crochet Became Popular
Crochet became popular in the 1800's when the price of manufactured yarns and threads began to drop so that everyone could afford it. It became popular around the world especially in Ireland, and northern France.
Women and children would stay home and crochet lace, blankets, and clothes in order to make money. Those who could afford lace refused to buy crocheted lace, but Queen Victoria changed that by openly purchasing Irish made crocheted lace. She even learned to crochet herself, and soon crochet became popular with all the different classes.
In the early 1900's crochet patterns became more complicated, as more patterns were written and published. Instead of using the bright colors which previous patterns called for, these patterns mainly called for white or pale threads. Purses however, were still made with bright colors and beautiful beads.
After World War 1, a lot of the complicated patterns were simplified. Then after World War 2, crochet became popular in the United States with many new designs for doilies, and other items for the home. Most of these patterns called for thicker and more colorful yarns.
Granny squares became popular in the late 1960's and early 1970's when the new generation began to crochet.
Today crochet is widely popular around the world. All sorts of patterns are available from doilies and other household items, to all types of clothing and accessories, and even toys and amigurumi have become popular in the last few years.
There are different variations of crochet which include, Filet Crochet, Tunisian Crochet, Broomstick Lace, Hairpin Lace, Cro-Hooking and Irish Crochet.
The art of crochet is not restricted to a particular group of people, but rather anyone who wants to crochet can do so without being ridiculed or looked down upon. This includes women and children as well as men, and it doesn't matter whether you are rich or poor, you can always learn to crochet.
It is a relaxing hobby which you can take along almost anywhere to help you escape from the real world, a few moments at a time.