Crochet, a History Lesson in Trivia

In honor of National Trivia Day, we’ve got a few random facts about crochet to satisfy your history jones. Straight from Lis Paludan’s 1995 edition of Crochet History & Technique, here are some tidbits you can use to impress your fellow crocheters.

History, Debunked: one recurring theory about crochet’s origins is that it was a known practice in Italy as early as the 1500s under the name of “nun’s work” or “nun’s lace”, and that it spread to the rest of Europe. This theory has been proved unfounded, as the oldest pieces of crochet found in Italy are dated within the second half of the 1800s.

Shepherd’s Knitting: this is single crochet. It is the earliest known practice of creating warm practical articles of clothing using crochet, and finds its origins in the harsh winter environment of Scotland. Practiced by shepherds, the technique is named for their outdoorsy lifestyle.



Hook Evolution: once the art of crochet started to spread in the second half of the 19th century, hooks became more rounded. As a Copenhagen periodical put it in 1877, this helped to “protect our fingers from the unceasing jab of the hook, and the unavoidable spots of blood on our crochetwork.” Created with love, indeed.

Tunisian Crochet: this technique goes by many names, to include “idiot stitch”, “railway stitch”, “fool stitch”, and “Princess Frederick William stitch”. The last-mentioned name dates back to 1859.

Crochet Patterns: the earliest patterns offered through the women’s magazine Penelope (published in Holland from 1821 until 1833) were for purses of gold and silver silk thread in colorwork crochet. The earliest crochet book in Swedish dates from 1844, and the Danish from 1847.

Potato Driven: many understand that Irish crochet is a special form of lace-like crochet, but what some may not know is that this method began as a cottage industry meant to provide an additional means of livelihood for the Irish population during the great hardships caused by the potato famine between 1845 and 1850.

Censorship: during the latter part of the 1800s, crochet was banned from needlecraft classes in Prussian schools on the grounds that it was a superfluous pastime. We are sure that today’s fans of crochet would loudly disagree!

Crochet Your Cares Away!


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