Introduction to Crochet
Crochet is a fiber art done with one hook and one strand of yarn. It is easy, very fun, and full of possibilities.
This is a beginner class that will teach you the very basics of crochet so you can knit beginner and many intermediate patterns.
You will learn many of the same skills you learn in knitting, like casting on, counting your stitches, figuring out where you are and what you’ve done, reading patterns, performing basic stitches, and even fixing a few mistakes.
Why Learn to Crochet
The best reason to learn to crochet is that it’s fun! It tickles your brain and engages your hands in ways that are similar to knitting, but altogether new.
For those of you who are three-dimensional in how you visualize things, crochet is very sculptural and can easily take you in all directions.
Summertime crafters will enjoy crocheting in warm weather, as crochet patterns work well with cotton yarn, which is much cooler to work with than wool.
And for those of you who like to take your crafts with you on the go, crochet is eminently portable, as it uses only one hook and has only one active stitch at all times. No need to worry about losing 100+ stitches off your needles when your project is in your purse!
What Crochet Is Good For
Crochet fabric can be firmer than knitting, which means crochet is good for solid items like purses where you don’t want anything to fall through the stitches. It can also be more open than knitting, which means it’s great for lacy tops, shawls, and even curtains.
Knitters, you will be astonished at how fast your work grows when you pick up a crochet hook.
Bedspreads, Christmas tree skirts, and baby blankets are done satisfyingly quickly, as opposed to something you’ll do just once in your lifetime.
Crochet is also great for small, detailed work that can absorb your concentration. You can create incredibly intricate designs with a small hook and crochet thread. You can enjoy creating projects of beauty without knitting large items like sweaters or spending a lot on yarn.
Speaking of savings, crochet is good for the wallet, too. Many crochet projects are ideal for cotton or even acrylic yarn, which will be a nice break for knitters used to breaking the bank on a few skeins of wool.
Why Crochet Can Be Challenging
While the movements of crochet are quite easy, and the hook itself ensures you’ll always be able to grab the yarn, some of the details of crochet can be confusing if you’ve not learned the fundamentals.
As crochet can be likened to bricklaying, where one stitch is created at a time and stacked on top of previous stitches, the questions of where exactly to insert the hook to create the stitch and how to create even sides on your brick wall are definite hangups for first-time crocheters.
In this class we’ll make this and everything else crystal clear so you can feel confident approaching new patterns.
A Brief History of Crochet
Nobody knows exactly how it got started, but we know it became popular for people in the middle class as a way to imitate professionally-made lace, which was very expensive and the purview of the very wealthy.
Perhaps to discourage the middle classes from having access to lace, the upper class derided crochet as low-brow. But when it was then discovered that lace workers were often forced into prostitution, crochet became a way for even the upper class to have lace, while avoiding patronizing an industry that was seen as tainted.
During the Irish Potato Famine, it became popular to buy crocheted lace created by Irish men, women, and children as a way of supporting the poor in Ireland. As prostitution was not involved, this was clearly a win-win, and the Irish survived the Famine thanks to their industrious production of crochet lace.
Crochet found even more popularity when the thick hair creams of the 1920’s necessitated the protection of couches from greasy hair – the doily was born.
The popularity of crochet has waxed and waned since then, reaching record heights in the 1970’s when hippies took up hooks to make colorful, crafty clothing. Recovering from a general overdose on crocheted items in garish colors took a generation or two, and now crochet is as popular as ever.
In the last 10-20 years, crochet patterns for items that are fashionable today have become much more available, as have yarns in beautiful colors and fibers that are fun to work with. Knitters, especially, will be delighted with the counterpoint crochet can provide to their knitting, as crochet is fabulous for lacy edgings and shaped embellishments.
See the Crochet Guild of America’s History of Crochet for a longer summary of crochet’s very interesting history, and the differences between crochet then and now.