History of Crochet

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vintage wood crochet hooks

Crochet…I love crocheting (and knitting)! Have you ever wondered who started this wonderful yarn craft and why?  Btw, the long vintage wood crochet hooks were from my grandmother.

The main difference between crochet and knitting, aside from the type of tools/needles to create the crocheted or knitted fabric is how the fabric is completed. In crochet, each stitch is completed before the next stitch is started, with the exception of Tunisian crochet and broomstick lace. Both latter two stitches keep multiple crochet stitches on open at a time.  In knitting, all the stitches are ‘live’ until the knitted piece is bound off or finished.

According to the Crochet Guild of America (CGOA), the term crochet originates from croc or croche, a Middle French word for small hook and from the Old Norse word ‘krokr’. Originally, crochet hooks were made from metal and wood, and in modern times, add plastic and bamboo.

Crochet historians and experts claim different origins for crochet’s beginnings: 

1) America, modern crochet was developed during the 16th century known as ‘crochet’ lace in France and ‘chain lace in England.

bamboo crochet hooks

2) A Denmark historian focusing on crochet in Europe suggest 3 different origins for crochet:

a) crochet originated in Arabia spreading to Tibet and Spain and to other Mediterranean countries.

b) crochet originated in South American from primitive tribes were thought to have used crochet embellishments in rituals.

c) crochet originated in China due to evidence of early 3-dimensional crocheted dolls.


Here is a timeline of the history of crochet based on my readings from CGOA and Wikipedia:

–Before the 1700s: crochet may have been developed directly from Chinese needlework and known in Turkey, India, Persia, and North Africa as a form of embroidery.

–1700s Europe: ‘tambour’ gives birth to crochet

–1800s: nalebing, a looped yarn technique preceded crochet in Europe. Mlle. Riego de la Brachardiere is credited for developing a ‘lace-like’ crochet technique known today as Irish crochet.

–1845-1849: Irish crocheted items helped the Irish survive the potato famine.

             aluminum crochet hooks

And so it turns out, there is no substantive evidence of when and where the art of crochet started, only theories based on finding crocheted items and antique pattern books. Back in ancient times, crochet was most likely out of necessity for income, to clothe the family and decorate the home. In modern times, crocheting is viewed as a leisure activity, one of enjoyment, relaxation, creativity, and the pleasure of making something.




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