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Crochet origins

Crochet origins

Dec 18, 2018

Knitted textiles survive from early periods, but the first substantive evidence of crocheted fabric relates to its appearance in Europe during the 19th century.

Knitted textiles survive from early periods, but the first substantive evidence of crocheted fabric relates to its appearance in Europe during the 19th century. Earlier work identified as crochet was commonly made by nålebinding, a different looped yarn technique.

The first known published instructions for crochet explicitly using that term to designate the craft in its present sense appeared in the Dutch magazine Penélopé in 1823. This includes a color plate showing five styles of purse of which three were intended to be crocheted with silk thread. The first is "simple open crochet" (crochet simple ajour); a mesh of chain-stitch arches. The second (illustrated here) starts in a semi-open form (demi jour), where chain-stitch arches alternate with equally long segments of slip-stitch crochet, and closes with a star made with "double-crochet stitches" (dubbelde hekelsteek: double-crochet in British terminology; single-crochet in US).The third purse is made entirely in double-crochet. The instructions prescribe the use of a tambour needle (as illustrated below) and introduce a number of decorative techniques.

The earliest dated English reference to garments made of cloth produced by looping yarn with a hook—shepherd's knitting—is in The Memoirs of a Highland Lady by Elizabeth Grant (1797–1830). The journal entry, itself, is dated 1812 but was not recorded in its subsequently published form until some time between 1845 and 1867, and the actual date of publication was first in 1898. Nonetheless, the 1833 volume of Penélopé describes and illustrates a shepherd's hook, and recommends its use for crochet with coarser yarn.