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Evolution of Crochet

Learn with Michael Sellick on how crochet all started. We have all these free crochet patterns for you to make but where did it all come from? The evolution of crochet is quite the thought.

Who do we have to thank for giving us the knowledge on using a thin tool to manipulate string/yarn to form projects? Where did it all come from? What has changed from the past to today’s society?

Reality is that the history of crochet can’t narrow down exactly when it was created. Crochet has noted in the history books to have been first noticed by French nuns in France but is noted that it could be found much earlier such as 1500 – 1800 BC. Based on the hand technique of crochet, it’s more than likely that it is a Middle Eastern technique that has shifted over time to other civilizations.

Now… how someone knew to shape the hook and start in the first place is a mystery but what I find more interesting is how it has changed over time to today.

Back when the nuns were crocheting, they were doing very complex lacing with very fine materials like table clothes. It was considered valuable and something found in churches as part of the decor. They say only the nuns knew how to crochet and was considered part of their work.

As time progresses it was noted to move to England and Scotland. Crochet took an evolution change and more people started picking up the skill. Going from exclusivity of just nuns, it went into the hands of posh upper class. Crochet circles have been noted as a past time for upper class ladies to perform the skills. The project evolved from just delicate lacy patterns to something not as complex to complete but still extravagant. The poor were not privy to learning the craft. I would be willing to bet though, some fabulous posh upper lady decided to teach some of her servants which helped get the skill to be more known in the decades to come to regular people like you and I.

In the early 1900’s, the skill had been evolving and again the crochet was noted to deplete again in skill level. As yarns have changed, so has the level of what you can do with the yarn. Patterns continuing to simplify and many yarns started to get much thicker and hooks increasing in sizes to accommodate the new yarns selections.

In today’s society, the nuns of yesteryear would be laughing at us. Our skill level is fabulous by today’s standards but would be considered primary school levels. With automation and cheap imports of products, crochet of today has become something where fewer people desire to learn because they don’t need to. Gone is the era where you would make socks because you couldn’t afford to buy another pair. Memories of making that custom made afghan for your couch when society is perfectly contented in purchasing something mass produced.

Very few people at home can make a crochet item and be compensated properly for the materials and time if they were to sell it. With automation has come “instant gratification”. See Now… Want Now… many people lack the desire to sit and take a few weeks or months to complete something completely original just for themselves.

In today’s society the most popular patterns are simple afghans, baby clothes, scarves and socks. Usually made from thick materials such as 4 Ply Worsted Yarns. I would conclude that to be contributed to lack of time and wanting to get projects quickly done due to either a lack of patience or the speed in which today’s society flows. The sizes of yarn today makes for the projects to grow extremely faster.

What’s to come in the future? That’s up to you… you have the power with today’s technology to get on board and learn this skill for free on the internet through well put together sites like and to show you how to do it. The real question... do you have the desire to take advantage of these free tutorials and patterns to create something unique and just for you.



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We should also acknowledge the work of early fishermen/women. Since working with rough ropes with bare hands could be permanently damaging while making nets, they came up with large hooks to pull loops through loops...hardly the "fine, delicate work" of nuns! Many examples of net carrying and storage bags, fishing nets, floor mats, door coverings and blankets have been found dating to prehistorical eras that can be considered "crocheted"...either by bare hands or using tools. When you think of it, crochet is one of those crafts that is easy to learn but hard to master. Only now, with the internet and in-store classes -- plus a plethora of fibers and tools now available -- are we RE-LEARNING to create useful and decorative items for ourselves and those we love.

My initial thought was the article was a little too short, the history of the craft, even if condensed, should have been perhaps 3 x longer. However, the info it contained was interesting. I have no qualifications in yarn craft, but have had an interest and read books and online articles on the crafts, as well as performing them! I suppose yarn craft started with weaving at around 7000 BC. Weaving, like most yarn craft, is thought to have been created in the "Cradle of Civilisation" - an area encompassing modern day Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Iran and neighbouring countries (Middle East / Central Asia). Paintings, pottery depicting weaving during these times, allowed dating to take place. Nalebinding is thought to be the precursor of both knitting & crochet, with articles dating to 400 BC. Macrame is thought to have come about (again, in the Middle East!) at about 1200 AD. However, to me, the use of knots to make cloth seems to be the most straight forward and basic way to make cloth, and I would not be surprised if in time, the start of macrame was pushed back near to that of weaving. The true time scale of knitting and crochet will be difficult to precisely date. Both were very likely started as trades of a sort, performed by people who didn't write, and were used for daily life, meaning they likely wore out. The combination of orally taught process, the materials of needles and hooks being wood or other degradable materials, and the cloth itself being worn out means there is little left today that stretches back too far. However, a sock was discovered in the Middle East to have been knitted at around 1000 AD. Crochet is thought to have come about sometime around 1500. It is interesting to note that this too is likely to have happened in the Middle East or Western / Central Asia (Turkey etc). Translations into other languages and misuse of words posed an issue. The Bayeux Tapestry springs to mind - created after 1066 AD, it is a mixture of woven cloth with embroidery, not a tapestry at all! However Tambour patterns discovered from the 1700's confirm that Tambour was a form of lace crochet. I first learned how to knit. Initially, I took up crochet to add simple flowers to baby girl items I knitted, and medallions to baby boy items. As a knitter, I stumbled on to VeryPink Knits creator, Staci Perry, and while most of her tutes covered knitting, I saw some of her crocheted items & gave them a go. While my crochet is now that of an advanced beginner, I hope it will soon match my knitting skills (which I would say are Intermediate... here's hoping both leap to advanced!). Whatever the history may be, and I do find it interesting, I thoroughly enjoy knitting and crochet, and would like to thank everyone who has contributed to this site and sharing their patterns, which would have taken them time to create. Happy hooking! :)

Although I am grateful for the bits of information in this article, I find the author to be arrogant about our sophistication with this craft. Few people have the time to crochet as the nuns and aristocrats of the 15th to the 19th century had. Our lives are full and busy. What we crochet is what we need in these lives. Few of us have the time to create and care for the delicates laces that our ancestors did. Nor, in our busy lives do we have the need for them. Few of us live in the standard of luxury of the aristocrats nor the rarified air that the church provided. Our creations fit into the lives we have and I think it is presumptious of the author to imply that what was done in the past was more educated and superior.

I enjoyed reading about the history of crochet. I think Mikey is right on when he said that the future of crocheting is up to us. I was taught the basics of crocheting as a child. I did nome crocheting as a teen, but later put it down while I enjoyed a busy career. Now that I have granddaughters I have been crocheting things I never thought I could do with the help of all of you at allfreecrochet. Unfortunately I am legally blind and can do work with very small hooks. Technology provides me with a magnifier so that I can follow patters. I work under daylight builbs and am very pleased with my work. Ut has also sopped stiffness in my fingers due to arthritis. It is a great, rewarding craft. My 4 year old granddaughter is now becoming interested in my hooks and watches intently when she see me crocheting. I encourage her by making herfun hats and a starfish wash cloth for her to use in the tub. Hopefully she will be interested enough to learn as a child so I can pass on this gift that my grandmother gave to me so many years ago. Keep up the great work and the great tutorials. Oh, and the doctor says crocheting is a great way to exercise my eyes. Pam


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