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Crochet

Crochet seems to have originated in France. The modern name derives directly from the old French word “croches” which meant hook. It describes the process of creating fabric from a length of cord, yarn, or thread with a hooked tool. Some theorize that crochet evolved from traditional practices in Arabia, South America, or China, but there is no decisive evidence of the craft being performed before its popularity in Europe during the 1800's. Knit and knotted textiles survive from very early periods, but that there are no surviving samples of crocheted fabric prior to 1800.

Beginning in the 1800s in Europe, crochet began to be used as a less costly substitute for other forms of lace. It required minimal equipment and supplies, all easily accessible to persons of all social classes. There is historical evidence that crochet was practiced in the eighteenth century by French nuns. When they came to Ireland, they brought their crochet where it quickly became accepted. At this stage of development, crochet was used almost entirely to make lace. Only the finest threads were used for a delicate lacy effect, as seen today in Irish crochet.

Crochet became popular in England at the beginning of the Victorian era when it, along with embroidery and knitting, was an accomplishment of leisure class ladies. Early nineteenth century English crochet used fine thread, often silk, and was made to resemble imported laces as closely as possible. Those who could afford lace made by older and more expensive methods disdained crochet as a cheap copy. This impression was partially mitigated by Queen Victoria, who conspicuously purchased Irish-made crochet lace and even learned to crochet herself. In the early twentieth century, English crochet continued the Victorian taste with edging for linens and undergarments. Collars, ruffles, doilies, and gloves still return as popular items in each generation.

From 1800 to 1950, crochet was done almost exclusively in thread. Crochet in the round or filet crochet, worked in rows of 'open' or 'closed' mesh to create patterns, were most common. Mass-produced steel hooks were used to work the thread beginning in about 1900.

In the 1950s, crocheters began to use thicker yarns to create less delicate clothing and home items, though thread crocheting remained more popular until about 1960. The craft remained primarily a homemaker's art until the late 1960s when the younger generation picked up on crochet. Often using granny squares, a motif worked in the round, and incorporating bright colors, these designs became indicative of the era.

Today, yarn is more popular than fine threads for crocheters. Afghans, blankets, and sweaters are made with all weights of yarn, but worsted is the most popular. Crocheted fabric in the modern sense is begun by placing a slip-knot loop on the hook, pulling another loop through the first loop, and so on to create a chain. The chain is either turned and worked in rows, or joined end-to-end and worked in rounds. Rounds can also be created by working many stitches into a single loop. Stitches are made by pulling one or more loops through each loop of the chain. This method distinguishes crochet from other methods of fabric-making as it is composed entirely of loops and is only secured when the free end of the strand is pulled through the final loop. Crochet is one of the most popular needle-arts toady because of its versatility and adaptability. As a technique, crochet is used for toys and other 3-dimensional projects. Flat pieces, round, square, rectangular and free-form are easily accomplished. It is fairly easy to understand and make a challenging hobby for all ages.

Filet crochet is a needlework handicraft using hooks. It is usually worked from a graph or a symbol diagram. The basic method can achieve two distinct 'colors' - a solid mesh where three or four double crochet stitches form a square, and an open mesh of one double crochet, two or three empty spaces, and a final double crochet. The last stitch of a solid or open mesh is also the first stitch of the following mesh. Patterns are created by combining solid and open meshes, usually working the design in solid meshes and the background in open meshes.

Filet crochet is most often worked in rows using cotton thread to create wall hangings and linens. Using fine thread, it is possible to work intricate patterns such as passages of text and personal names. As with all other types of crochet, filet can be used with any weight of thread, cord, ribbon, yarn, or anything else flexible enough to work with a crochet hook.

Many simple cross-stitch patterns can be effectively converted to filet crochet and vice versa by filling the design region with solid block and keeping the open mesh to the area of no pattern. Filet crochet looks best if blocked before use to highlight the design. More than one color can be combined in this crochet to make the design "stand" out from the background. Using top crochet (where the crochet is worked as a top stitch over the finished piece) in contracting or complementary thread designs can also be made more stark.

Tunisian crochet, also known as Afghan crochet, uses an elongated hook with a stopper on the handle end, called an Afghan hook. In Afghan crochet, each row is worked in two halves: the first half is worked from right to left and the second half from left to right. Work is never turned. After the starting chain is completed, the first row is worked by inserting the hook in the chain, pulling a loop from the free end of the yarn, and inserting the hook in the next chain without working the loop off the hook. At the end of the row, you will have as many loops on the hook as there are stitches across. In the second half of the row, you will work the loops off the hook.

This type of crochet creates a dense fabric with a definite front and back side. It is ideal as a base for cross-stitch.

Broomstick lace is a form of crochet, although the needle used looks like a very large knitting needle. Hence the origin of the name "broomstick". In the past something similar to a narrow broomstick could be used, but the modern variant is a lightweight plastic knitting needle, for ease of use. It is most popularly used for shawls and baby blankets.

Irish crochet is a type of lace, which has its origin in the famine years of the 19th century in Ireland. It has been conducted by nuns from the Venetian needlepoint lace, which is also a raised lace like Irish Crochet. Compared to other crochet laces Irish Crochet is padded with a thicker cord to give it a three dimensional look. There are some different types of Irish Crochet like Roslea and Clones Lace, which shows up huge snowflake knots in its netting.

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