It is difficult to pinpoint when and where crocheting began because people shared patterns by word of mouth; some historians think it might have started with tambour, the Persian and Indian method of making lace using a hook.
Hobby Name: Crochet
Why It’s Cool: Creative, Work with your hands, Make presents for friends, Relaxing
Alternate Names: Hekke (Norwegian), Gantsilyo (Filipino), Cróise (Irish), Häkeln (German)
Years to Master: For very simple stitches it may take you a couple of days to a week to master, but the more difficult stitches and patterns can take years of practice
Before people wrote down instructions for crocheting, they would make small sample pieces that others could use as a guide for different kinds of stitches. Families would put all of these small samples into a scrapbook to preserve them for future generations. The first time a printed pattern was called crochet was in 1823 when a magazine called Penélopé printed a pattern for a small purse.
For many years, crocheting was still a small time hobby that didn’t really take off because a lot of people assumed it was only for women who couldn’t afford lace. Women in Ireland became especially good at crocheting during the Great Potato Famine, and many of them made and tried to sell their beautiful designs as a way to make money.
Unfortunately, people preferred more expensive lace to a cheaper crochet design. One day, someone sent Queen Victoria a gift of Irish crochet. She loved it so much that she took to wearing it immediately and decided to learn the craft herself. The Queen’s interest and approval of the hobby instantly made crochet designs popular with wealthy European women.
At the same time, Irish families were leaving Ireland in the hopes of finding a better life in the United States. When these people left their homeland, they brought crocheting with them. The craft enjoyed a surge of popularity on America’s shores as young women carried on the tradition. As the world rushed towards the new century, crocheting fell out of fashion. It was seen as a waste of valuable time and resources as the world struggled through two terrible wars. Once the wars were over, people had more time on their hands and many women picked up crocheting as a hobby. In the 1970s, crochet became a popular fashion statement with the colorful granny square pattern showing up on shirts, skirts, sweaters, and dresses.
Today, many people continue to enjoy crocheting; and, with a bit of practice, you can make beautiful crocheted gifts for your friends and family!
Tips to Get Started:
1. Pick a hook that fits comfortably in your hand, make sure that it isn’t too big or too small
2. Start with a simple stitch
3. Use yarn that has a smooth texture
4. See if there are any crochet classes in your neighborhood. If there aren’t any in-person lessons available, you could ask your parents to find a video lesson online!