Who Invented Crochet?

person holding purple crochet hook and white yarn

Have you ever wondered who invented crochet or how crochet came to be?

I have

To be honest it has perplexed me for a rather long time.  So, I did some research on the subject and came up with almost an answer!  What do I mean by that?  Well, it seems that there is no one place that can pinpoint the actual date, time, and place that crochet was ‘invented’!

 “no convincing evidence as to how old the art of crochet might be or where it came from. It was impossible to find evidence of crochet in Europe before 1800. A great many sources state that crochet has been known as far back as the 1500s in Italy under the name of ‘nun’s work’ or ‘nun’s lace,’ where it was worked by nuns for church textiles,”  (Marks, 1997)

Irish Crochet became popular and might probably be one of the only things that saved the Irish during the great potato famine between 1845 and 1850. The Irish went so far as to turn schools into crochet mills, for lack of prettier words. The schools taught men, women, and children of all ages how to crochet.  Their items then were sold all over Europe and abroad with the new owners unaware of the humble beginnings of their beloved crochet collars and cuffs.

Many Irish saved their meager earnings to make better lives for themselves by leaving Ireland for a new land, America. Here, their delicate crochet influenced the knitting and sewing arena. They couldn’t help but appreciate the intricacies and hard work put into the craft.

The funny thing about crochet is, that you can use almost any type of material!  The Sweet Grass of the Carolina Lowcountry, hair, animal fur, flax, wool, and the list goes on and on.  One thing that is for sure is that, when a crochet project is in need, one need not go far to find the materials to complete it.  Today, we just run to a craft store and buy whatever we need. Obviously, Wal-Mart and Michael’s weren’t around in the 1800s or 1900s.

Now, what about this thing we call a CROCHET HOOK?  Well, fingers were the first crochet hooks, then whatever tool one could get their hands on, such as hooks made of bone, metal, wood, and even spoons. Today we can buy a hook in any one of 25 different sizes from the smallest metal hook to the largest wood or plastic hook.

So, you’re probably wondering what kinds of things were on the list of necessities that crochet produced. Fishing nets are the first thing to come to mind. Then bags or satchels, belts, and snares to catch rabbit and fish. Later you could see crochet lace in funeral ceremonies or religious rights and marriage ceremonies.  In the 1600s Europe, Royalty and the wealthy adorned themselves in lace gowns, headpieces, and other apparel while the poorer impoverished could only dream about such adornments. It is possible that the impoverished used crochet to adorn themselves in imitation of the wealthier status’ garments.

Crochet techniques have come a long way since their initiation into the mainstream.  We have books upon books to read, YouTube channels that give explicit instruction, and grandmother’s that still teach their grandchildren to crochet.  There are so many people crocheting today, that it is hard to go to a craft fair and not see 2-3 tables selling all sorts of different crochet items, from amigurumi (stuffed animals) to fashion items and accessories.

That my friends are little bits in the History of Crochet. If you would like to learn more about the history of crochet, you can find more information at the Crochet Guild website: https://tinyurl.com/2p8skjhj

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Author: Nana's Attic Crochet - Stuffed Animals

I love all things about Crochet.

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