The early development of the craft of crochet is linked to the imitation of lace and lace making. The word crochet comes from the French “croche” or ‘croc’ meaning to hook. In the 16th century, the nuns taught the craft to their students and it became a recognized accomplishment of a high-born lady. Crochet was considered appropriate only for the rich with the poorer people having knitted items. In the 1840s crochet instructions began to be published and so crochet became more popular. Before this time crochet had been handed down through families with each generation passing on the skills.
Many older patterns contained just a picture with some of the most complicated sections explained, as a consequence you were expected to work from the image of the majority of the trend! Irish crochet is often considered the hook at its highest expression and is done with the highest thread and hooks in intricate patterns, usually displaying a motif of leaves or flowers set in an open shaped bottom band. When trying to imitate lace very fine threads and hooks were used but nowadays it is more usual to use flexible thread to produce clothing, home furnishings and wall displays.
Crochet is worked by wrapping the yarn around a crochet hook to produce dots of different heights. Depending on the stitch, the fabric can be dense or lace, the choice is yours. Crochet hooks are quite short compared to knitting needles, and a small hook with a curved end. This hook is where your points are formed. Hooks come in a variety of sizes, very fine hooks to lace hooks work great for chunky carpets and clothing pieces.
So where did crochet originate? Researchers believe that the crochet may have begun centuries ago in Arabia, China or South America, but it is likely that the stitches were produced more like macramé and formed using hands not tools. The first real references to crochet were in France in the 1800s in fact, the hook word comes from the French word for “hook”, so it seems pretty safe to say that the first job made its impact there.
Lace Crochet was popular at the turn of the century and there are still people who like to crochet lazy doileys and placement using fine cotton threads and small size hooks. Modern trends lean more toward Afghan carpets, scarves, shawls and clothes, as these items are quick to fill and to show the stitch textures. Today, crochet clothes and household items are made from a wide variety of threads, including bamboo, cotton, wool and even possum! The crochet art can be used to do anything, almost everything; both the thread and the hook can be used creatively craft different types of crochet lace to do things like scarves, bandannas, sweaters, hats, gloves, dresses, jewelry and many other accessories.
Learning to crochet is not difficult. Once you get the hang of holding the hook in one hand and anchor your work in the other, the act of making stitches is not difficult. Crocheting, like knitting, is a visual art and to be taught by observing and copying the teacher’s movements. “There are hundreds of great tutorials on video sites like YouTube so have a bit of a look and see what happens. Better yet, find someone who loves to crochet and is willing to teach you. You are guaranteed that you will have at least one hook size dish cloth piece finished in a few hours!