Sunday, 6 September 2009

The Crafter's Way 107 - Crochet.

This week's Messenger column is all about Crochet.

During a recent trip to Sydney I enjoyed the Hyperbolic Crochet Coral Reef Exhibition at the Powerhouse Museum. Using Hyperbolic Geometry the exhibition features coral reefs made from wool, plastic bags and fibre optic cables. The Sydney Morning Herald described it as “an artistic project that weaves art and community craft together with environmental activism and marine biology." This got me thinking about crochet in a whole new light.

The word "crochet" is derived from the French word "croche", meaning "hook", however how the craft got a French name is a mystery. There is no definitive history of crocheting available. Historians speculate that crocheting began in the Far East. Still others believe it to have started in South America. The reason for the speculation? Simply no archaeological evidence exists of crochet cloth or hooks.

Fast forward to Ireland during the Potato Famine where a group of Nuns taught a form of 3 dimensional crocheting that became known as Irish Crochet. Crochet became a popular method of creating imitation lace for the less well off. Crocheting ‘lace’ did not pay well so many of the ladies turned to prostitution to supplement their income. Apparently this is when the term “hookers” first came into being. Crochet continued with its less respectful reputation until Queen Victoria decided to learn to crochet.

Coinciding with a drop in cotton prices, the first published patterns began appearing in 1840. Crocheting’s popularity has ebbed and flowed since that time. World Wars saw a decline as thread and fabric was in short supply; during the 60’s and 70’s it enjoyed resurgence thanks to Hippie Fashions. Today, crocheting is enjoying yet another rebirth. Learn to crochet classes are being held at Craft Stores and Grandmother’s knees. Those Irish Nuns are at it again with one recently teaching me how to do Hairpin Crochet. In the United States crocheters have begun a practice they call “yarn bombing”. They beautify existing graffiti sites by draping them in their crocheted cloth.

With a vast array of thread, yarns and hooks available there is no reason not to get started on a crochet project. Who knows you might just start a new reef. Photos: Hypebolic Crochet Reef Project.
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Peta said...

I really enjoy your craft history lessons. Keep up the good work.

Laura said...

This is incredible, where do people come up with these ideas?