Friday, October 31, 2008

Crochet - Knot Just Another Hobby

Crochet is an art form and a popular craft that's been enjoyed by modern civilizations for more than a century. Derived from the French word "croc", meaning "hook", crochet is the art of creating fabric creation from a thread, yarn or other fibers, much like knitting and weaving. The main difference is the type of hook that's used in crochet.

Origins of Crochet
Some believe that crochet was first used in areas of China, Arabia and South America, although there is no concrete evidence of this claim. Eventually, the craft became popular in 19th century Europe. While the crochet process may have been present during ancient times, the hook itself which is used in crocheting was not yet invented. Back then, people used their fingers, bent in a hook shape, to create the loops and chains.

It's believed that the type of crochet that's enjoyed today initially gained popularity throughout the mid 1700s. The tambour style of embroider had also reached Europe at this time. Tambour embroidery was worked with a smaller crochet-like hook. Crochet, as we know it, can be traced back to about 1800; however architectural digs have found samples that suggest that crochet existed before the 1800s.

Some people say that crochet pieces can be found in Egyptian tombs and others say that nuns made crocheted pieces to beautify early churches. It has been argued that crocheting is a very basic technique and it most likely had its beginnings some time in ancient history. Unfortunately, no pieces have been found to legitimize these claims about ancient crocheting.

In the 1800s, crocheted pieces became viable substitutes for lace. Fine lace was very expensive, and people turned to crochet to produce less expensive fabrics. There were few tools or pieces of equipment needed for crochet, and all kinds of people were able to do it. Crafters began crocheting by working with natural fibers, using hooks made of brass, ivory and hardwood.

With time, the art of crochet became more and more popular and the art form found a niche as a cottage industry. Crocheting actually supported some communities after imperialism had deposed their livelihoods. Those in the middle class, and people emerging in society, purchased the finished crocheted products.

Some will say that crocheted fabrics were no more than imitations of the symbols of wealthy families. Crocheted pieces were looked down upon by those who were able to afford real lace and other more expensive fabrics.

Queen Victoria had a hand in diminishing the negative attitude that people held about crochet. She purchased crochet laces created by the Irish, and then she also learned how to crochet.

Evolution of Crochet
Crocheting was done mostly with thread from the beginning of the 19th century to the 1950s. The most popular kinds of crochet methods were the filet crochet and the crochet in the round. These methods were worked in rows of closed or open mesh to build patterns. Steel hooks were mass produced and were popular beginning at the beginning of the 20th century.

In the 1950s, crocheters used thick yarns to create less detailed clothing and fabric. The craft of crocheting using thread was popular throughout the 1960s. Homemakers were very involved in crocheting but during the 1960s, more and more people became hooked to crocheting, particularly the younger generations.

Granny squares and other popular patterns began to emerge. Usually created in fun, bright colors, these squares were completed in round style. These new trends helped crochet to pick up a much-needed popularity boost in the 1960s.

People who crochet today usually begin with a slip-knot on the hook. This first looped is then pulled with another loop. The second loop is pulled through the first one, and the pattern is repeated again and again to create a fabric chain. You can work these chains in rows, or turn them to create a pattern. A round is created when several stitches are pulled through one loop. It's these unique methods that separate crocheting from other fabric making methods.

As compared to other methods of creating fabrics, crochet is a relatively young craft. Through several evolutionary steps, crochet has evolved to become the art form that we know today. Different technologies and modern ways of creating fabric, however, are threatening to make the art of crochet a thing of the past. Let's hope that the many people who still enjoy crochet will pass the art along to future generations. --By: Winifred Holstone

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