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Crochet is a type of craft where a special crochet hook is used to pull loops of thread through other loops of thread to create a wide range of items such as rugs, cushion covers, wall hangings and even garments such as gloves and scarves. While this skill has been around for several centuries it has been developed over the years to become both a relaxing way of spending time and a creative clothes making technique.
The Origins of crochet
The word crochet is French in origin and simply means hook. It is believed that crochet was originally done with the fingers, although it was not long before various types of bent needles were developed. Later, the crochet hooks that we recognise today were developed and were made from a range of different materials including wood, brass, bone and even ivory and silver.
It is believed that people first started to crochet around the turn of the nineteenth century and it seems as though the craft developed at the same in various different countries. In fact, early crochet patterns dating from the start of the nineteenth century have been found in Dutch and Swedish women’s magazines, while evidence has also been found to show that upper class English women were also learning to crochet around this time.
Crochet For The Elite
Crochet was originally adopted as a hobby by upper class women, who would use the craft to create delicate pieces of material that they would use to decorate their clothing as well as their homes. During the nineteenth century upper class women were largely expected to remain in the own home or the homes of women of the same class who they would visit. During social visits it was common to find women sitting together sharing gossip and crocheting various different patterns. It was generally considered that crochet was too delicate and decadent for working class women, and they were encourage instead to take up knitting in order to make and repair garments for their family.
Crochet Becomes Mainstream
This attitude changed, however, during the Great Irish Famine, which lasted from 1845 to 1849. During this time there was a serious shortage of both food and money and Ursuline Nuns started teaching local women and their children to crochet items that were then shipped to Europe and America to be sold. In this way, creating crochet became an important source of income for the people of Ireland and the items that they crocheted were so delicate and intricate that they became known as Irish lace. It was not long before crocheting had become a cottage industry in various parts of Europe, particularly in Ireland and northern France.
Crochet As Art
When Queen Victoria famously began to crochet, the craft was transformed into an art form and a large number of special patterns were developed to help to keep up with the demand for ever more challenging and impressive designs. Crochet patterns were printed in popular magazines and other publications and a range of specially sized crochet hooks were developed to allow people to accurately follow these patterns.
These days crochet is still an extremely popular craft that is practiced all over the world. A large number of new crochet patterns and techniques have been developed and there are several different magazines and books that are devoted solely to the art of crochet.
Like most crafts, crochet is constantly evolving and new styles and patterns are emerging even today. Now that you know the history of this creative and useful craft, it is time to start making your own crochet garments and designs.