Reference Library: Crochet
The word crochet is derived from the Middle French word croc or croche, meaning hook. It describes the process of creating fabric from a length of cord, yarn, or thread with a Crochet hook. The origin of the crochet technique is a subject of considerable controversy. The word is not to be confused with "crotchet", otherwise known as a quarter note.
Crocheted fabric in the modern sense is begun by placing a slip-knot loop on the hook, pulling another loop through the first loop, and so on to create a chain. The chain is either turned and worked in rows, or joined end-to-end and worked in rounds. Rounds can also be created by working many stitches into a single loop. Stitches are made by pulling one or more loops through each loop of the chain. This method distinguishes crochet from other methods of fabric-making such as knitting, as it is composed entirely of loops made with a single hook and is only secured when the free end of the strand is pulled through the final loop.
Some theorize that crochet evolved from traditional practices in Arabia, South America, or China, but there is no decisive evidence of the craft being performed before its popularity in Europe during the 1800s. Many find it likely that crochet was in fact used by early cultures but that a bent forefinger was used in place of a fashioned hook; therefore, there were no artifacts left behind to attest to the practice. These writers point to the "simplicity" of the technique and claim that it "must" have been early.
Other writers point out that woven, knit and knotted textiles survive from very early periods, but that there are no surviving samples of crocheted fabric in any ethnological collection, or archeological source prior to 1800. These writers point to the tambour hooks used in tambour embroidery in France in the seventeenth century, and contend that the hooking of loops through fine fabric in tambour work evolved into "crochet in the air." Most samples of early work claimed to be crochet turn out to actually be samples of naalebinding.
Beginning in the 1800s in Britain, America and France, crochet began to be used as a less costly substitute for other forms of lace. The price of manufactured cotton thread was dropping, and even though crocheted laces took up more thread than woven bobbin laces, the crocheted laces were faster to make and easier to teach. Hooks ranged from primitive bent needles in a cork handle, used by poor Irish lace workers, to expensively crafted silver, brass, steel, ivory and bone hooks set into a variety of handles, some of which were better designed to show off a lady's hands than they were to work with thread. By the early 1840's, instructions for crochet were being published in England, particularly by Eleanor Riego de la Branchardiere and Frances Lambert. These early patterns called for cotton and linen thread for lace, and wool yarn for clothing, often in vivid color combinations.
Around the world, crochet became a thriving cottage industry, particularly in Ireland and northern France, supporting communities whose traditional livelihoods had been damaged by wars, changes in farming and land use, and crop failures. The finished items were purchased mainly by the emerging middle class. The introduction of crochet as an imitation of a status symbol, rather than a unique craft in its own right, had stigmatized the practice as common. Those who could afford lace made by older and more expensive methods disdained crochet as a cheap copy. This impression was partially mitigated by Queen Victoria, who conspicuously purchased Irish-made crochet lace and even learned to crochet herself. Irish crochet lace was further promoted by Mlle. Riego de la Branchardiere around 1842 who published patterns and instructions for reproducing bobbin lace and needle lace via crochet, along with many publications for making crocheted clothing from wool yarns. The patterns available as early as the 1840's are astonishing in their variety and complexity.
Fashions in crochet changed with the end of the Victorian era in the 1890s. Crocheted laces in the new Edwardian era, peaking between 1910 and 1920, became even more elaborate in texture and complicated stitching. The strong Victorian colors disappeared, though, and new publications called for white or pale threads, except for fancy purses, which were often crocheted of brightly colored silk and elaborately beaded. After World War I, far fewer crochet patterns were published, and most of them were simplified versions of the early 20th century patterns. After World War II, from the late 40's until the early 60's, there was a resurgence in interest in home crafts, particularly in the United States, with many new and imaginative crochet designs published for colorful doilies, potholders, and other home items, along with updates of earlier publications. These patterns called for thicker threads and yarns than in earlier patterns and included wonderful variegated colors. The craft remained primarily a homemaker's art until the late 1960s and early 1970's, when the new generation picked up on crochet and popularized granny squares, a motif worked in the round and incorporating bright colors.
Although crochet underwent a subsequent decline in popularity, the early 21st century has seen a revival of interest in handcrafts, as well as great strides in improvement of the quality and varieties of yarn.
The following types of crochet are derived from the basic method:
* Filet crochet
* Tunisian crochet
* Broomstick lace
* Hairpin lace
* Irish crochet
Unusual shapes and materials
Crochet differs from knitting in that a much wider range of materials can be used in place of yarn. If it's flexible, it can be crocheted. Unusual materials such as straw or string are generally used for household items rather than garments. For example, "braided" rugs can be made from strips of cloth sewn together and crocheted with a very large hook. In the same spirit, plastic grocery store bags can be cut into strips and recycled into a sturdy [http://www.marloscrochetcorner.com/Plastic%20Bag%20tote.html tote bag].
Crochet can be shaped into three-dimensional pieces such as hats, children's toys and bags.
International crochet terms and notations
rightIn the English-speaking crochet world, the basic stitches have different names. The differences are usually referred to as UK/US or British/American. Examples of these differences and their usual abbreviations are:
* UK double crochet (DC) = US single crochet (SC)
* UK treble crochet (TR) = US double crochet (DC)
* and so on.
To help counter confusion when reading patterns, a diagramming system using a standard international notation has come into use (illustration, right).
This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Crochet".