How to Crochet

Photo by Alexandre Abrao
Photo by Alexandre Abrao

Crocheting is a form of needlework that involves the interlocking of looped stitches made with thread or yarn and a hooked needle. As is true with most hand needlecrafts, the origin of the art of crocheting is unknown. It is highly probable that crocheting was one of the first needle arts. Early needlework implements were made of wire with a hook at one end.

Pima Indians in America (from the present Arizona area) practiced a crude form of this art. The earliest European settlers of America created household items with their crochet hooks, but crocheting did not become popular either in Europe or America until the beginning of the 19th century. The Irish, immigrating in large numbers to American shores, popularized crochet trims and garments in the United States.

Stitches and Patterns

All crochet stitches are based on the simple chain stitch, which is made by pulling yarn through a loop with the hook. Various pattern stitches have evolved from the basic chain stitch, and an endless variety of effects may be achieved by making use of these. But the single crochet and double crochet stitches, together with the chain, are the basis of the most popular patterns that are in use today.

Filet mesh, used in making doilies, tablecloths, and other items for the home, is usually a combination of chain and double crochet stitches, with the series of chain stitches creating the open spaces.

A simple stitch for creating a firm fashion fabric is the one over one stitch. This is achieved by alternating single and double crochet stitches across the first row and, on following rows, working single crochets over double crochets and working double crochets over the single crochets of the preceding rows.

Hooks and Materials

Approximately enough, crocheting derives its name from the French word crochet, meaning "hook". Crochet hooks are made of steel, bone, plastic, aluminum, or wood. The steel hooks are the smallest and are used with fine threads and yarns. Large wooden hooks are primarily for heavy bulky yarns or multiple strands. Every type of effect from delicate laces to closely woven fabrics can be achieved with the crochet hook.

In centuries past, only fine threads were used in crocheting, but today all types of materials are used.

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