Crochet Fabric Information
Crochet, from the French word croche, meaning "hook", is the process of creating fabric from yarns or threads using a crochet hook. Similar to knitting, although in crochet only one loop of yarn is "active" at a time, crochet has evolved into a very popular process for creating lace, doilies, heirlooms and home decor items.
Crochet is believed to have been developed in Europe in the early 1800's, although some historians believe that earlier forms of crochet existed yet did not use a physical hook, using a bent finger in its place. It is speculated that major textile manufacturing inventions such as the cotton gin and spinning jenny, which allowed far more cotton threads to be produced at lower prices, aided the development of the crochet process. As cotton is well suited to crochet, and crochet uses more thread than similar weaving techniques, these inventions made crochet more economically viable. By the mid-1800's, crochet was an established form of fabric and lace creation throughout Europe and America.
The process of crochet is relative simple: a slip-knot loop is place on the crochet hook, through which another loop is pulled through, and repeated until the desired length is reached. The resulting chain can be further enhanced by working down the rows or by creating a rounded design. One key aspect of crochet is that at any point in time, there is only on loop, or live stitch, on the hook. This is different from knitting, which uses two needles and keeps an entire row of stitches active. One benefit of crochet over knitting is that if a crochet stitch unravels, the neighboring stitches are secure and intact, while knitted stitches could come apart and threaten the entire cloth. Crochet can produce more elaborate and distinct designs than knitting, but crochet must be done by hand: there is no mechanical equivalent. Crochet requires only one piece of hardware: the crochet hook. The hook can vary in size and material, with the most modern hooks made of aluminum, plastic or wood. Traditional crochet hooks were made of a wide variety of materials, including bone, ivory and steel, and were sometimes adorned with semi-precious stones.
Fabrics produced by crochet are mostly limited to home decor and heirloom pieces, but can also be found in bright, colorful designs used for blankets, shirts and accessories. Crochet fabrics have retained their popularity, although they have transitioned from a much needed source of income for Europe's poor to predominantly a creative hobby. After World War II, there was a significant resurgence in crochet, which occurred again in the 1960's and the early 21st century. Handmade lace, doilies, tablecloths and baby items never seem to lose popularity, and the low cost of crochet coupled with its use as a creative outlet has established the process as a permanent fixture of textile production.