The Origin of Crochet

crochet  |  krō'SHā  |  noun

• a handicraft in which yarn is made up into a patterned fabric by looping yarn with a hooked needle: [as modified] : a crochet hook.

mid-19th century: from French, diminutive of croc 'hook', from Old Norse krόkr.

New Oxford American Dictionary

The origination of crochet is unclear. However, there are three dominant theories:

  • Some believe that it originated in Arabia, spread to Tibet, then to Spain, finally following the Arab trade routes to other Mediterranean countries.
  • Originated in South America by a primitive tribe.
  • In China, early examples were known of dolls worked in crochet.

Crochet purse (France), early 19th century ornamented with steel cut beadsFrankly, there is no solid evidence that we know of, as to the age of crochet. The earliest evidence of crochet, as we know it, is first commonly seen in the second half of the eighteenth century.

To the left is an image of an early nineteenth century purse (France). This purse was crafted with rose color silk net, crocheted and ornamented with cut steal beads utilizing a steel ring to slide and close. The top was fitted with small ivory or bone bars to open and accented with a cut steel pendant; steel chain to carry.

Crochet may have developed from Chinese needlework, an ancient form of embroidery known in Turkey, India, Persia and North Africa, which reached Europe in the eighteenth century, and was referred to as tambouring. The main theory behind the origin of crochet seems to be that it began when it was realized that chains worked in a pattern would hang together without background fabric.

At the end of the eighteenth century, tambour evolved into what the French called crochet in the air, when the background fabric was discarded, and the stitch worked on its own. Tambour hooks were as thin as sewing needles, and therefore the work must have been done with very fine thread. []

Since its humble beginnings, this beautiful art form has evolved exponentially. Fresh designs and innovative styles now fill the aisles of department stores, runways, home décor emporiums and a myriad of online shops. Modern crochet has become various things to various people - an art medium; a creative outlet; mode of business and more.

You may find it surprising that crochet (modern or not) is loved and practiced by people of all ages, from the precious young to the beloved elderly. Those of us in this buzzing industry are filled daily with inspiration, creativity and possibilities. We hope to pass the love for this art form on to you.

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