I learnt to crochet a year or so after I learned to knit. I was about 10 as I remember and crochet had been shrouded in mystery. How could you produce woolen fabric with stick with a hook at the end, when knitting required 2 needles?
Once I delved into the world of crochet, I was amazed at just how quick and easy this craft is. I often switch to crochet when I’m in the middle of a large knitting project, to give me a break from endless knitting (which I do love but can be slow)or to whip up something quick when I’m suffering from knitter’s block, the horrible feeling you get when you just can’t decide what to start next,
Crochet is worked by wrapping yarn around a crochet hook to produce stitches of varying heights. Depending on the stitch, the fabric can be very dense or lacy, the choice is yours. Crochet hooks are quite short compared to knitting needles, and have a small curved hook at one end. This hook is where your stitches are formed. Hooks come in a variety of sizes, from very fine hooks for working lace to super chunky hooks, for rugs and chunky garments.
So, where did crochet originate? Researchers think that crochet may have begun many centuries ago in Arabia, China or South America, although it’s likely that the stitches were produced more like macrame, and formed using hands not tools. The first real references to crochet were in France in the 1800s. In fact, the word crochet comes from the French word for “hook”, so it seems fairly safe to say that the craft first made its impact there.
Lace crochet was hugely popular at the turn of the century and there are still some folk who love to crochet lacy doileys and placemats using fine cotton threads and small size hooks. The modern trends lean more toward afghan rugs, scarves, shawls and clothing, as these items are quick to complete and show off the stitch textures. Nowadays, crocheted garments and homewares are made from a huge variety of yarns, including bamboo, cotton, wool and even possum!
Can you imagine Madonna crocheting? Well, it’s true! She, along with Meryl Streep and Bette Midler all like to crochet. Queen Victoria also crocheted and wore her creations in public. I’m not sure that Madonna would be keen wear a granny square vest in public!
Learning to crochet isn’t hard. Once you get the hang of holding the hook in one hand and anchoring your work in the other, the actual act of making stitches isn’t hard. I won’t attempt to describe the technique in writing, as I’m sure you’ll be pulling your hair out! Crocheting, like knitting, is a visual art and needs to be taught by watching and copying the teacher”s moves. There are hundreds of wonderful tutorials on video sites such as YouTube so have a bit of a look and see what comes up. Better still, find someone who loves to crochet and is willing to teach you. I guarantee that you will have at least a crocheted dischcloth sized piece finished in a couple of hours!