Is There Such a Thing as a Crochet Machine?

COMEZ crochet machine

 

There is a question that I have noticed coming up in crochet circles from time to time. It’s the question of whether or not a machine can make crochet. The answer is that although there is such a thing as a crochet machine, there is not a machine that can replicate handmade crochet as you and I know it.

There is such a thing as a crochet machine. The most well-known example are the crochet machines that are crafted by COMEZ, a manufacturer that also produces other types of needlework machines such as weaving needle looms. These machines are produced on a large scale for the textile industry. I first learned about these machines earlier this year when Textile World announced that the founder of the company had passed away at the age of 86.

The crochet machines created by COMEZ are also known as “warp knitting machines”. They have multiple needles that each correspond to a specific thread and they work together to create a crochet-like fabric that is said to be highly “drape-able”. However, as anyone who crochets knows, there are no needles in crochet work (except for the ones used to weave in ends!) and therefore this really isn’t anything like true handmade crochet.

To date, there are no machines that can replicate the type of crochet that we do by hand. This makes crochet unique. There are knitting machines that can make knit items on a large scale to be sold in stores. The same is not true of crochet. If you see crochet in a store then you should know that the item was made by hand by someone in the world. It wasn’t made by a machine.

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Kathryn

San Francisco based and crochet-obsessed writer, dreamer and creative spirit!

16 Comments:

  1. Very interesting, thank you.

  2. Kathryn, you are so informed on the world of crochet; do you have any information on the crocheted items that are mass produced and sold so cheaply? I have known that there is no machine that can make crocheted lace, so someone somewhere is making it. I have heard rumors that it was made by political prisoners who were not physically able to do harder manual work, and also that that it was made by poor women in third world countries who are paid a pitance for hours (or days) of work.
    I would love to know the truth about where these items come from.

    • @Ann – this is a really important topic and it’s really complex … basically there are some folks who do pay a fair wage (fair for the country, offering some level of independence to the workers) to people doing crochet work in third world countries. There are probably also a lot of companies that don’t offer a fair wage and really exploit workers in other places. It’s a topic that I’m really interested in researching more completely but to date I don’t have a lot of information on who the good and bad companies are.

    • I live in Bulgaria, which is not in the Third World, but in Europe… And sill women, who sew or crochet get dimes for their work. The salary, which such a person gets is around 150-160 Euro or about 200 US dollars. Some women are not paid on hourly basis, but depending on the number of hats/scarfs/sweaters/etc. they make for a month. For example, for crocheting a swimming suit of two parts, you could get 8 euro or 10 dollars, which is actually considered almost a fair price.

  3. Also the terms crochet and knitting are often interchanged in other countries outside the US. And what we use as the “chain stitch” is not universal to crochet alone. There is something new on the market that attempts to replicate a granny square look by a method of weaving and wrapping. From a distance, it really does look like crochet, but up close, you see it’s actually like embroidery without the fabric behind it.

    To Ann’s question, children and the elderly are a large group of producers and these items come from a variety of foreign businesses from around the world. No one country is solely responsible nor one company. In some places, these “companies” are not we think of in the western world too. Some cultures will argue it is their tradition for children to help families earn a living. However, an issue there is the cartilage damage done to children via repetitive motion injuries to developing bodies. Crochet is present on every continent in the world. By law in the US, all clothing items must be labeled with their country of manufacture, so it is definitely possible to follow-up more specifically on an item that way.

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  5. This is very interesting! I’ve always wondered about this. And it’s nice to know that what we do cannot be replicated by machines :-)

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  10. BelleMondeHandmade

    One of my favorite posts, and actually the post that brought me to this blog in the first place a few months ago!

    • @BelleMondeHandmade I am so glad to hear this. I’m so fascinated by the fact that there still exists no machine that can do crochet even though patents were being worked on for ideas for them dating back to at least 1930. I love that it’s a handmade art.

  11. I am so glad to hear this. I’ve recently been diagnosed with neuropathy and it’s in my hands. And, I am still trying to crochet. I just want anyone I know who I give a gift of crochet work to that it took a lot of work and love. And, that it’s not easy for me to do anymore.

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