Discovering Crochet Traditions

Standing in front of the magazine rack at my local newsstand or
browsing through the latest crochet magazine issue and updating my
mental queue, I find myself thinking about crochet's future. What
techniques are gaining in popularity? What inventive way has a designer
created to showcase filet crochet or Irish lace? But as I contemplate
its future, I realize I am forgetting a vital and fascinating piece of
crochet, its history.

While
the exact origins of crochet remain a mystery, crochet's vital role in
the ninteenth and twentieth centuries is well documented through vintage
patterns, historical photographs, antique pieces, and the stories
passed from generation to generation. Crochet Traditions compiles some of these stories, helping to connect modern crocheters and crochet lovers to those, like Polish crocheter Maria Gwarków and her daughter (at left)  who paved the way before us.

Crocheting gifts for others has always been a large part of the crochet
culture. I would have loved to meet the mischievous Preacher Lewis, an
Episcopal preacher who learned to crochet after he was struck with
chorea, a neurological disorder, as a child. As a pastor in New Mexico,
Preacher Lewis crocheted socks, sweaters, and more for the boys in a
nearby dormitory and made sure every baby he baptized received a
handmade cap. One of the first hats I crocheted was from a pattern (at right) based
on one of his designs.

And
as a lace enthusiast, I am in awe of the nineteenth century lace
bonnets, edgings, home décor, and collars created with filet and Irish
crochet. The collars are amazing and intricate works of art illustrating
the ingenuity of their crocheters as they adapted European and Brussels
lace styles to create wide crocheted lace collars and chemisettes
(collars with short backs and long, square bodices that were belted at
the waist). I find it especially fascinating that in the absence of
modern cleaning agents, women used gin, green tea, boiling water, or
cold milk to clean their handmade lace.

There is so much
about crochet's history and traditions to explore, from the garments and
techniques brought with immigrants to Ellis Island to crochet in the
White House and during the Civil War to bead crocheted misers purses
from the late eighteenth century. Pre-order Crochet Traditions today
and join me as we investigate crochet's history, learn these
traditional techniques, and gain a greater appreciation for the craft we
all enjoy. 

Best wishes,