Learning from Traditions
Every time I sit down to spin, I feel connected to the spinners who came before me. I imagine my great-great-grandmother spinning on a cold winter day, a long skirt covering her legs and a handspun and crocheted shawl wrapped around her shoulders. The spinning tradition is incredibly rich and long, and as I spin a tight Z-twist into my singles—a great option for crochet yarn— I also contemplate the history and traditions of crochet.
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, such as Polish crocheter Maria Gwarków and her daughter, who paved the way before us.
Tapestry crochet is a beautiful technique that manipulates colors worked in single crochet, creating bright geometric patterns and pictures. Many of these colors and patterns communicate social position, religious beliefs, or social standing. This skill has been found and, in some cases, still thrives in the Americas, Africa, the Middle East, and Europe.
And as a lace enthusiast, I am in awe of the nineteenth-century lace bonnets, edgings, home decor, 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 miser's purses from the late eighteenth century. Order Crochet Traditions today and join me as we investigate crochet's history, learn these traditional techniques, and gain a greater appreciation for crochet's history.