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Who invented crochet?

Have you ever wondered how old the art of crochet is? And where in the world it was that it emerged? This traditional practice is not actually as old as you might think, but its exact origins are still being contested.

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When did crochet first emerge?

You may be surprised to find out that crocheting is not that old. It is a great deal younger than n√•lebinding (7th Century BCE), embroidery (3rd – 5th century BCE), and even knitting (11th Century CE). It’s thought that crocheting emerged around the 1700s, evolving from tambouring, a type of embroidery that had arrived from the East.

Crocheting was a practice whereby the background fabric was removed, hence the French called it ‘crochet in the air’. Crocheting is characterised by using a hook, the name coming from the French ‘croc’, for hook.

In the 1800s a type of knitting evolved called shepherd’s knitting, which also uses a hook. This was subsumed by the concept of crochet, which was widespread by the mid-19th century and often termed ‘slip stitch crochet’.

In the century that followed, this type of needlework became ever more popular, reaching its peak in the 1960s and 1970s when the ‘granny square‘ became the go-to design for blankets.

So, who actually invented crochet?

According to the theory above, Europeans invented crochet by adapting tambouring. However, some say that the practice emerged in Arabia and arrived in Europe fully formed via Spain. Whilst we’ll never know exactly when or where the practice began, we do know who created the first crochet pattern. This is credited to Mademoiselle Riego de la Branchardiere, who was born in 1829.

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Even today crochet patterns remain key to creating excellent pieces. If you want to get into crocheting yourself, the best way to start is by using crochet kits. You’ll find a huge range of crochet kits available here.

Wherever crochet emerged, it’s unlikely it was the work of just one person. What we do know is that it’s a much younger sister to other fibre arts and one that is extremely satisfying to learn.