Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Keeping You in Stitches

I continue to co-author editorials for the local newspapers and from time to time I post one of them..  We are quite limited in number of words that we can use so nothing goes into great depth, but this does give a brief overview of crochet. As many of our members are not knitters we try to give the crocheters some attention as well.

The history of crochet…
Crochet is a method of working interlocking loops of thread into a chain by means of a slender rod hooked at one end. The work is begun by crocheting a single chain of loops, each new loop being formed by catching the yarn and drawing it through the previous loop. The chain is made to the planned width of the finished piece, the yarn is turned at the end of the chain, and a second chain is crocheted, each new stitch being looped through a stitch in the previous row.
There is no solid evidence to pinpoint the exact date of when crochet began.  Theories abound as to when and where it came about, but solid documentation does not show up until the mid 19th century in Europe.  In 1824 the first crochet pattern was published and by the middle of the century patterns were easily obtainable.

As the cost of manufactured thread dropped crochet began to develop as a cottage industry.  During the Irish Potato Famine nuns taught children to crochet and the lace they made was shipped all over Europe.  Most notably in Ireland and Northern France whole families would stay at home and produce crocheted items for sale.  The emerging middle class created a ready market for these items.

Because it was sold to the middle class, crocheted lace had to overcome the stigma of being labeled as common or cheap. Those who could afford it still bought lace made by older more expensive methods.  Queen Victoria was instrumental in changing this attitude. Victoria conspicuously purchased Irish made lace and actually learned how to crochet herself.

Crochet continued to grow in popularity until World War II.  At that time not only was thread scarce and expensive, women had left the home to fill jobs left empty by men and there was no time for the leisure arts. 

Then, in the 60’s a 70’s a new generation picked up the craft of crochet and granny squares were born.  The new relaxed styles of clothing made crocheted vests, sweaters and accessories extremely popular. Both men and women were learning to make everything from afghans to belts and scarves. New, vibrant colors of yarn were now available and magazines on how to crochet were prolific. With this new era, crochet was more than just a way to make practical items; it gave people the opportunity to express themselves with new colors, patterns and designs.

At that time, interest in psychology was just beginning to peak and it was found that crocheting, like many hobbies, helped relieve stress. Not only could people created a crocheted afghan for every room of their house, they could relax while doing it.

Crochet continues to evolve and the latest magazines show incredibly intricate designs in clothing. Yet another generation is picking up this skill and finding satisfaction and relaxation in needlework.

You see, we are not all about knitting.  Many of us crochet as well as knit and we welcome crocheters to our weekly meetings of “Hooks, Yarns, & Thinkers” – 9:30 at the Moberly Public Library.  Join us, you’ll be hooked too!

No comments: