The early development of the craft of crochet is linked to the imitation of lace and lace making.
The word crochet comes from the French ‘croche’ or ‘croc’ meaning to hook.
In the 16th century nuns taught the craft to their students and it became a recognised accomplishment of a high-born lady. Crochet was considered to be suitable only for the rich with the poorer people having knitted items.
In the 1840s crochet instructions began to be published and so crochet became more popular. Before this time crochet had been handed down through families with each generation passing on the skills.
Many older patterns contained just a picture with just a few of the more complicated sections explained, as a consequence you were expected to work from the picture for the majority of the pattern!
Irish crochet is often considered to be crocheting at its highest expression and is done with the finest thread and hooks in intricate patterns, usually displaying a motif of leaves or flowers set in an open web-like background.
When trying to imitate lace very fine threads and hooks were used but nowadays it is more usual to use soft yarns to produce clothing, home furnishings and wall displays.
How to Crochet
When you begin to crochet you start with a slip stitch on a hook. However, unlike knitting, crochet uses this single starting loop to work a row of individual chain stitches. So each new loop is formed by catching the yarn and drawing it through the previous loop.
Then you work back along this series of chain stitches, each new stitch being looped through a stitch in the previous row.
Each stitch is completed when only a single loop remains on your crochet hook, and then the next stitch is worked. Although this may sound complicated in practise it is very easy to do.
By using various combinations of stitches it is possible to create a variety of textures and patterns. These combinations can have descriptive names such as pineapple and popcorn as well as the more usual chain, double, and treble.
An Ideal Craft for the Busy Person
Crochet can be done with the minimum amount of equipment and mess, and is very quick to tidy away.
This makes crochet an ideal craft to do when you’re travelling. There is only your yarn and a crochet hook, and possibly a crochet pattern, to carry. If you drop a stitch or make a mistake it is easy to pull the work back to a ‘correct’ single loop and restart from there.
Crochet Pattern e-books
Crochet pattern e-books are great value and very convenient. You can print out just the instructions for the pattern you are making.
This allows you to have only a page or two for your pattern and you do not need to carry a whole crochet book.
If the pages you’ve printed get damaged or lost it is easy to print the pattern again from the e-book allowing you to complete your project.
Crochet is an interesting hobby. You can crochet straight forward items almost immediately and once you’ve mastered the basics you can go onto the more complicated patterns when you fancy a challenge.
Catherine Calder sells crochet instruction videos that are ideal for beginners. These computer video files show the basic crochet stitches and all the stages to crocheting your first Granny Square. Visit http://www.learnanddo.com/crochet.asp
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