A lot of people wonder about the history of crochet. Although much has been written about the history of knitting and of needlearts in general, there isn’t as much information available about the history of crochet. But there is some and I’ve outlined it here in a simple timeline.
This information is based in large part on what has been reported by Nancy Nehring in her article on crochet history that was published in Margaret Hubert’s Complete Guide to Crochet, reviewed on the blog earlier today. I would definitely recommend reading the full article in the book if you can since it provides much more information about the details of this timeline!
- 1812 – The Memoirs of a Highland Lady by Elizabeth Grant references “shepherd’s knitting” which is slip stitch crochet. Crochet started as just the slip stitch.
- 1824 – A Dutch Magazine named Penelope features an article with instructions for slip stitch crochet.
- 1835 – Crochet bag patterns begin to be more widely published in Dutch and German. By this time chain stitch and single crochet stitch have been added to the designs.
- 1844 – Mercerization is invented. This strengthens cotton making it more durable to crochet with.
- 1846 – Patterns are published in England to reproduce Spanish needle lace. This is the first time that we see patterns that include working through both loops (it was previously only through the back loop) and the first time that we see rows worked back and forth with turning (previously it was worked right to left and the yarn was cut off at the end of each row). This is starting to look like crochet as we know it today!
- Late 1840’s – Irish crochet lace becomes a way to make money in Ireland during The Great Irish Famine.
- 1850’s and 1860’s – Industrialization makes it much more affordable to produce crochet hooks. Plus the Industrial Revolution means that more women have leisure time to fill. This results in more crochet work done as a hobby.
- 1867 – Harper’s Bazaar launches. This reflects increased literacy among women and magazines for women who want to craft.
- 1886 – DMC Guide to Needlework book is published with information on crochet.
- 1910 – 1920 – The Edwardian fashion style means that crochet work is now more detailed textured.
- Post WWII – After the war there was a resurgence in home crafts and crochet became alive again after it had been mostly forgotten by the general public.
- 1960’s and 1970’s – Crochet fashions hit a peak. We’ve all seen the granny square items from this time! This is also when freeform crochet begins to be popular.
- 1994 – Gwen Blakley Kinsler founds The Crochet Guild of America to encourage crocheting.
- 2007 – Ravelry launches. Crochet and social media merge. By 2010 Ravelry had one million members.
- 2009 – The Yarn Bombing book is released. Some people think this is an important part of crochet history. Do you?
Crochet Insider has an interview with Nancy Nehring who did research into crochet history.