The word crochet comes from the French word for ‘hook’ and is a process of using a hook to create fabric from yarn or thread. Loops are pulled through other loops, while the thread is wrapped around the hook once or a few times to create different stitches. Only one of the many stitches is active at one time, and there is a system of symbols to denote the different crochet stitches. Broomstick lace, Filet crochet, hairpin lace, cro-hooking, Tunisian crochet, and Irish crochet are all variants of the basic method.
Hooks can be made in almost any material, including bone, bamboo, aluminum, plastic and steel. Sizing is determined by the diameter of the hook’s shaft, and patterns may require a series of differently sized
There is no real evidence of crochet before the 19th century, when it became popular in Europe. Thanks to early industrialisation, machine spun cotton thread became widely available and inexpensive in Europe and North America, displacing hand spun linen for many uses. In the middle of the 19th century, crochet was introduced to Ireland as a way for the impoverished to make money when many workers were facing the Great Famine. Lace crocheted in Ireland was popular in America and Europe and was produced in large quantities until the outbreak of the World War I.
Post World War II, up until the early 1960s, home crafts including crochet enjoyed a renewed popularity and saw new and imaginative designs introduced for soft furnishings such as were doilies, antimacassars and potholders. These patterns generally used thicker yarns and threads and also employed a wide range of colours. In the late 60s and early 70s, what had primarily been a household product, was seized upon by the younger generation and crochet was widely introduced to fashion uses.
The interest in handicrafts has enjoyed a revival in the early 21st together with improved quality and variety of materials available for crochet. There are now many more new crochet books filled with easy crochet patterns available. It’s also easy to find crochet baby patterns, and the smaller sizes and delicate finish of crochet make it ideal for babywear.
It’s easy to master crochet for beginners, and a few handy tips will make the process more rewarding:
Once you’ve decided to learn to crochet, be patient, getting accustomed to the hook and the flow of the yarn won’t take long.
Start with blanket crochet, making individual squares, so you can practice the basic stitches, and eventually they will build up until you can put them together.
One of the most important factors of any crocheting project is tension and particularly for clothing items as the finished size of the item depends on it. With tight crochet or with smaller hooks and thinner yarns, the result will be tighter tension and smaller pieces. Most patterns indicate the tension required and also advise you to make a small practice piece before starting the main project.
Relax! it really will show in your work. Move the hook freely, keep the tension even and keep the stitches to a uniform size. Hold your work with the thumb and forefinger just below where you are stitching.
Crochet is simple, easy, and very versatile, so why not pick up a hook, and make a start?