History of Crochet by Ruthie Marks
You and I call it crochet, and so do the French, Belgians, Italians and Spanish-speaking people. The skill is known as haken in Holland, haekling in Denmark, hekling in Norway and virkning in Sweden.
Other forms of handwork - knitting, embroidery and weaving - can be dated far back in time, thanks to archeological finds, written sources and pictorial representations of various kinds. But no one is quite sure when and where crochet got its start. The word comes from croc, or croche, the Middle French word for hook, and the Old Norse word for hook is krokr.
According to American crochet expert and world traveler Annie Potter, "The modem art of true crochet as we know it today was developed during the 16th century. It became known as 'crochet lace' in France and 'chain lace' in England." And, she tells us, in 1916 Walter Edmund Roth visited descendants of the Guiana Indians and found examples of true crochet.
Another writer/researcher, Lis Paludan of Denmark, who limited her search for the origins of crochet to Europe, puts forth three interesting theories. One: Crochet originated in Arabia, spread eastward to Tibet and westward to Spain, from where it followed the Arab trade routes to other Mediterranean countries. Two: Earliest evidence of crochet came from South America, where a primitive tribe was said to have used crochet adornments in rites of puberty. Three: In China, early examples were known of three-dimensional dolls worked in crochet.
But, says Paludan, the bottom line is that there is "no convincing evidence as to how old the art of crochet might be or where it came from. It was impossible to find evidence of crochet in Europe before 1800. A great many sources state that crochet has been known as far back as the 1500s in Italy under the name of 'nun's work' or 'nun's lace,' where it was worked by nuns for church textiles," she says. Her research turned up examples of lace-making and a kind of lace tape, many of which have been preserved, but "all indications are that crochet was not known in Italy as far back as the 16th century"- under any name.
History of crochet:
Lis Paludan theorizes that crochet evolved from traditional practices in Iran, South America, or China, but there is no decisive evidence of the craft being performed before its popularity in Europe during the 19th century.The earliest written reference to crochet refers to slip stitch crochet|shepherd's knitting from The Memoirs of a Highland Lady by Elizabeth Grant (1797–1830) in the 19th century. Some claim that the first published crochet patterns appeared in the Dutch magazine Pénélopé in 1824. Crochet patterns have recently been found in the Swedish magazine "Konst och nyhetsmagasin för medborgare av alla klasser" from 1819, discarding this earlier notion. There might exist even earlier examples in publications not previously scrutinised. Other indicators that crochet was new in the 19th century include the 1847 publication A Winter's Gift, which provides detailed instructions for performing crochet stitches, although it presumes that readers understand the basics of other needlecrafts. Early references to the craft in Godey's Lady's Book in 1846 and 1847 refer to crotchet before the spelling standardized in 1848.