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A Brief History Of Crochet

During our weekly meeting we were discussing the fact that none of us knew much about the history of Crochet.

This has prompted us to do some research to give you a brief history lesson!


  • The name Crochet is derived from the French term meaning “small hook.”
  • Unlike Knitting and needlework, the origins of crochet are hard to trace. Some historians have argued that Crochet originated in Arabia and then spread to Tibet and Spain, from where it followed the Arab trade routes to other Mediterranean countries. Other historians have suggested that crochet came from South America where primitive tribes were said to have used crochet adornments. Finally, there is evidence that could show crochet originated in China where early dolls were found worked in crochet.
  • Research suggests that crochet evolved from a needle work called Tabouring, this was a cross between lace making and the crochet we know today. As lace was very expensive, crochet was a perfect imitation lace and was popular with poorer classes.
  • Crochet began to emerge in Europe in the early Nineteenth Century, boosted by Mlle Riego de la Branchardiere, well known for her ability to take needle and bobbin lace designs and turn them into crochet patterns that could be duplicated.
  • In the 19th century, as Ireland was facing the Irish Potato Famine (1845-1849), crochet lace work was introduced as a form of famine relief. Families relied on their earnings from crochet, which gave them the chance to save up enough to emigrate.
  • Queen Victoria was a fan of Crochet even learnt how to crochet herself!

Queen Victoria Crochet

  • Crochet is known as haken in Holland, haekling in Denmark, hekling in Norway and virkning in Sweden.
  • Throughout the ages a variety of materials have been used to crochet, these include: hair, grasses, reeds, animal fur and sinew, hemp, flax, wool, gold and silver and copper strands, silk, white cotton thread, wool yarns.
  • Crochet Tools throughout the ages included: fingers, hooks made of metal, wood, fishbone, animal bone, horn, old spoons, teeth from discarded combs, brass, mother-of-pearl, morse (walrus tusk), tortoiseshell, ivory, copper, steel, vulcanite, ebonite, silver and agate.
  • The very first publication of Crochet patterns was in the 1840’s.

There you have it a brief (?) history of Crochet.

(To find out more we suggest reading, "A living mystery: The international art & history of crochet" By Anne Louise Potter.)

Check out our Eternal Rose Crochet Video if this has inspired you to pick up your Crochet Hook.

Rose Group

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