Crochet Basics: 9 Fascinating Facts About the History of Crochet

Are you looking for game night trivia questions? If so we have the perfect category for you: Crochet Basics. No need to read that twice. We’re dead serious! The craft of crochet has a notorious reputation for being a hobby that only blue-haired grandmas do but that couldn’t be further from the truth. From its mysterious origins to its mental health benefits, there’s more to crochet than using yarn and hook. Stick around to discover more and maybe even learn some fun trivia.

The Mystery and History of Crochet

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Where Did Crochet Originate from?

  1. The Middle East
  2. China
  3. South America
  4. All of the above

If you answered all of the above you’re correct! Sort of. No one knows where this craft originated from or exactly when. We know with absolute certainty crochet existed in Europe during the 19th century but there are several theories suggesting crochet existed much earlier. The Twisted Ewe discusses these different theories.

One theory is that it began in the Middle East and moved west. Some historians believe crochet originated in South America. Others believe it began as needlework in China. The problem with determining where and when it originated is due to a lack of evidence. People in each of these areas worked with some kind of small hook similar to the crochet hook. However, no crocheted objects survived from any of these locations during these periods.

According to the Crochet Guild of America, crocheted materials began making an appearance in Europe during the 1800s but it wasn’t highly regarded as a useful craft, that is until it caught the attention of royalty. Wool and the Gang reported that crochet gained credibility as a craft when Queen Victoria took an interest in it. She even learned how to crochet, making scarves for men who served in the South African War.

READ MORE: Not Your Grandmas Squares: How to Teach Yourself Crochet

How Crochet Saved Lives

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Who Inspired Queen Victoria’s Interest in Crochet?

  1. Amazon
  2. Pirates
  3. Irish women

As much as we love the idea of pirates crocheting koozies for their bottles of rum, the answer is 3. An article published by Irish America, described how the craft took off during the late 1840s. The potato famine that struck Ireland during this time forced many farmers and their families to crochet as a source of income.

Wealthy landowners opened schools on their farms, teaching their tenants crochet basics so everyone could survive this devastating time. These teachings spread across the country and Irish lace was sold overseas. This is when it caught Queen Victoria’s attention. She purchased lace from Ireland.

Many families in Ireland used the profits from their crocheted pieces to leave Ireland for greener pastures. It’s recorded in the National Archives that an estimated 2 million Irish families traveled to America. When they did, they brought their craft with them and likely continued using their profits to purchase supplies for their new home.

READ MORE: Learning How to Crochet

Did the Irish Trademark Their Lace?

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True or False: The Irish trademarked their lace designs.

If you believe patents weren’t in existence yet, you’d be wrong. According to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, the first U.S. patent was issued in 1790. But it wasn’t until 1929 that the first patent in Ireland was issued, according to Maclachland & Donaldson. In theory, Irish families living in the U.S. could’ve trademarked their designs. However, the answer is False. While the Irish didn’t trademark their designs, they did take measures to make sure their lace wasn’t plagiarised by someone else. In an article written by Twisted Ewe, many crocheters would develop a unique lace design that used either a flower, leaf or another shape significant to the crafter. 

Was Crochet Used Only For Lace?

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True or False: Crochet was only used to make lace?

False. Lace may have been one of the more popular designs but it wasn’t the only design. The Crochet Guild of America mentioned that several items were made using crochet. Hunters used crochet to make fish nets and animal traps. During the 19th century, crochet basics were used to make all sorts of items such as tablecloths, flowerpot holders, and baskets. Oh, So Pretty and Clever noted that the 20th century – specifically the 20s and 30s – was when using crochet basics to make clothing became popular. Crochet was also used heavily during World War II to make items for the troops as well as to add some flair to older garments.

Crochet For Your Health

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True or False: Crochet is good for arthritis?

True.  Dr. J. Alan Lemley, a physician with Syracuse Orthopedic Specialists Hand & Wrist Center stated that crafts such as crochet can help alleviate pain and discomfort caused by arthritis flare-ups. For patients who already crochet and are having problems working on their craft because of arthritis, Dr. Lemley recommended some warmup techniques to try before sitting down to craft. One of those techniques includes soaking your hands in warm water to help the muscles loosen up.

Mental Health Benefits

The benefits of crochet don’t stop with the physical aspects. Several studies have been done showing how crochet can help promote mental health as well. The Anxiety Resource Center published an article in 2017 showing that needle crafts, such as crochet, call for a lot of brain power that requires focus and limits the time crafters have to focus on external stressors. They also found that the repetitive movement needed with the stitches can be very calming. Patients with PTSD reported fewer flashbacks as a result of taking up knitting or crocheting as a hobby. The next time you’re feeling stressed out or overwhelmed, grab a crochet hook and see if crocheting helps you out.

READ MORE: Managing Your Anxiety as a Mom

Crochet Basics

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Are you worried that the fun trivia is coming to an end? Well, don’t! We’re just getting started. Now that we’ve covered some of the fantastic history connected to crochet, we’re moving on to crochet basics. If you’re interested in learning more, keep reading!

Supplies

True or False: Crochet is the same as knitting.

False. Knitting is similar to crochet but uses two long needles and is thought by many people to be easier than crochet because knitting only requires using two stitches: knit and purl. Crochet uses one hook and those hooks come in different sizes. There are a ton of different brands available but we like this ergonomic set.

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When choosing a crochet pattern, every pattern will tell you what size crochet hook you need for the project. Hooks can also be purchased individually which might be ideal for beginners who aren’t sure they’ll stick with this hobby. If you’re new to crochet, we recommend using a size H hook. It’s a middle-sized hook that might be easier to learn basic crochet stitches with.

Once you have your hook, you’ll need yarn. The best yarn for beginners to work with when learning crochet basics is any brand of yarn that is worsted weight, medium #4 yarn. This kind of yarn can make it easier for beginners to see their stitches. Many brands on the market sell 4-ply yarn but our favorite is Red Heart.

Read More: DIY Yarn Wrapped Centerpiece

The Five Basic Stitches

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Which stitch is not considered a crochet stitch?

  1. Chain Stitch
  2. Single Crochet 
  3. The Magic Circle
  4. Triple Crochet 

The Magic Circle. Though it is a fun technique to make hats, toys, and more; the magic circle is not technically a crochet stitch. The five basic crochet stitches everyone crocheter should learn are the chain stitch (ch), single crochet (sc), half-double crochet (hdc), double crochet (dc), and triple crochet (tr). If you’d like to learn how to do the magic circle, check out this YouTube video.

True or False: The names of crochet stitches are the same for the U.K. and U.S. 

False. When you’re reading patterns or watching YouTube videos for crochet, pay attention to whether or not the author is in the U.S. or the U.K. because the stitch names used for crochet in the U.K. are different from the U.S. Crafter Dora Does provides a stitch directory on her website listing the different names for U.K. stitches. Those names are listed below.

U.S. StitchesU.K. Stitches
Single CrochetDouble Crochet
Half Double CrochetHalf Trebel Crochet
Double CrochetTreble Crochet
Triple CrochetDouble Treble Crochet

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From its unknown origins to saving lives in Ireland, crochet is more than a craft. For centuries it’s been helping people stay warm, feed their families, and even help fight anxiety. Whether your interest in crochet is inspired by fashion or a desire to learn something new, we hope you enjoyed learning all about these fascinating facts. And if you happen to know of any pirates who did crochet koozies, please tell us all about it in the comments!

WANT TO READ MORE?
Check out this article on Learning How To Crochet: 4 Easy Beginner Basics to Crush Your First Handmade Scarf.

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SOURCES:  The Twisted Ewe | Crochet Guild of America | Wool and the Gang | Irish America | National Archives | U.S. Patent and Trademark Office | Maclachland & Donaldson | Oh So Pretty and Clever | Syracuse Orthopedic Specialists Hand & Wrist Center | The Anxiety Resource Center | Dora Does

Photo Credits: UnsplashPexels

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A.Marie Silverhttps://amariesilver.com
A. Marie Silver is a mother to three dragons, wife to a Navy man, and author of Snark, Sass, & Sarcasm - a blog dedicated to putting a humurous twist on the mundane. In her spare time she fantasizes about taking naps, is a contributor for Daily Mom, and is working on her first novel.

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