What do you know about the history of crochet? The basic story that I have heard again and again is that there was likely some crochet in early civilizations in North America, China, and other places but that we really don’t know for sure and that the first written record of crochet is a form of slip stitch crochet written about in a needlework book at the end of the nineteenth century.

But what if there’s more to the story than that? I recently came across a 1971 crochet book by Elizabeth Blackwell called A Treasury of Crochet Patterns in which she uses the book introduction to muse upon the true beginnings of crochet. It’s a fun intro because she makes some stuff up but weaves it in with the known history of crochet.

Liz Blackwell’s Imaginary Story

Blackwell points out the salient fact that the time when crochet patterns began being written is not likely the time that crochet first started. She imagines a history in which the first crocheter was a caveman. She shares that the history of sewing is believed to have begun when the first caveman started wearing clothing to keep warm and figured out how to crudely put together different shapes of leather to make an outfit. She imagines that he might have started playing with a leather strip and making one loop after another, creating the very first foundation chain which is essentially the start of all crochet projects. She suggests that the caveman could easily lose track of time making chain after chain, pulling up loop after loop, similar to what kids often do when they first learn the crochet chain.

Blackwell gets into the true history of crochet a bit when she explains that the first real crochet stitch (beyond a chain) was the slip stitch, although it was called single crochet in the European crochet language of the time. The crochet hook hadn’t been invented yet so she says it’s only natural that someone started using their fingers to pull one loop through another that’s already been created and then we’ve got the slip stitch.

What caused the next stitches to come? Blackwell says it was boredom. She says, “boredom is not confined to the present generation and is probably entirely responsible for the development of just about everything when combined with curiosity. So, being bored by the tediousness of single crochet, the first crochet patterns were worked out by our prototype.” And it just continued from there with modern crochet forming once we got the idea to start writing and then reproducing the patterns.

Create Your Story

We’ve heard what Blackwell thinks is the history of crochet as it really was with the basic idea being a caveman working leather strips with his fingers. What do you think the story is? Use your imagination and share your thoughts in the comments. I’ll be using the answers along with my thoughts to put together a story of possibilities here on the blog … so get creative!!


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

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  1. Pingback: Crochet Blog Roundup: January 2012 — Crochet Concupiscence

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