The Enduring Popularity of Crochet

crochet hook and patternWe live in a time of rapid change. What was new yesterday is old hat today.

So why is it that crochet is having such a resurgence in popularity?

Crochet was in decline through the nineties and into this century. However, over the last few years it has been seen on high profile fashion catwalks across Europe. It is appearing in commercial hand bag and accessory design and Vogue magazine has featured crochet garments in their publications. In 2015 British Vogue commented “The move (back to crochet) in part is helped by fashion’s infatuation with the Seventies”.

Meanwhile, Australian swimwear designer Lisa Maree uses crochet extensively through her ready to wear collections while other high profile fashion designers also feature the craft in various forms. It has both design and utilitarian values and here at Extraordinary Yarns we are excited to see the versatility of crochet once again highlighted in new and upcoming patterns and yarns. There is a lot more to come on the crochet scene.

Historically, crochet is something of a mystery. With a technique somewhere between lace making and knitting, the origins are largely unknown. The most plausible theory has it originating from the far east in an early form of embroidery known as Chinese Needlework. Chinese Needlework created delicate designs of fine knotted stitches by pulling threads through a background material. The technique became known as Tambouring in 18th century Europe. Eventually the background material was dispensed with and a form of crochet as we know it today was born.

During the Irish Potato famine (1845 to 1850) crochet is credited with providing a lifeline as impoverished Irish farmers and their families produced crochet work in their spare time to be sold overseas. Much of this ended up as the finely detailed collars and cuffs worn by English Gentry although it is doubtful the buyers realised the terrible poverty of the workers creating their clothing. (And doesn’t that sound familiar when we look at some of our modern-day clothing sources?)

Eventually the Irish were organised into guilds. Crochet schools were set up and more intricate patterns evolved. From 1845 to the 1900s millions of Irish migrated overseas, spreading their crochet skills wherever they went.

Today, we have so much more choice. Unlike knitting, crochet has the ability to be worked into three dimensional shapes. It has been used for utility pieces such as bowls or caps, as an art form and for one group of ladies in Darwin as well as representing coral in a unique way of engaging the public in aspects of marine biology and climate warming. Crochet is common in yarn bombing as well but for most of us the appeal is in the simple delicate patterns of crochet that can be adapted to so many useful items.

And if you can’t crochet, there are several ways you can learn. Many wool shops run crochet classes and there are books and leaflets available as well as online lessons. The tools required are simple and inexpensive as are the yarns. Have a chat to your local wool shop and sign up for our newsletter for more information.

It will get you hooked!

Steve Dowling

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