Crochet is the art of creating intricate knots using crochet thread or yarn and a crochet hook. This fibre art uses a few tools, including scissors, stitch markers and a tapestry needle to weave in loose ends. Crochet artisans are able to design and make almost any design and item imaginable, from socks to blankets.
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Crochet has been in existence for approximately 200 years, compared to other fibre arts, which have been around for over 20,000 years, according to crochet expert Debbie Stoller. Stoller recounts crochet's unusual history. Because lace adornment was only available to the wealthy in the 19th century, people from the working classes learnt how to make lacy creations from crochet. Because of this, the rich derided crochet as a "less respectable" form of needlework.
Types of Crochet
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Various types of crochet have been developed over the years. Stoller lists several of these, including tapestry crochet, in which the crocheter creates a picture with crochet stitches.
Fillet crochet is a lacy type of crochet incorporating chain stitches and double crochet stitches. The chain stitches are worked in succession, creating an open mesh, while the double crochet stitches are used to "close" mesh blocks. Again, pictures and patterns can be created with crochet.
The afghan stitch, also called Tunisian crochet, Tunisian knit and Tunisian simple stitch, is a hybrid of crochet and knitting. It creates a very dense fabric, suitable for small rugs and thick afghans.
Features of Crochet
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Crochet can create a tough fabric suitable for an area rug, slippers or a child's garment. The crocheter can use crochet to make a light, romantic shawl or a flirty shrug. Because of the different stitches, crochet is more versatile than knitting. Crochet can be used to create a warm, funky beanie or a light, decorative neck scarf.
The crochet artist can crochet small squares, called motifs, to sew or stitch together and make a baby blanket or an afghan for a bed. Lacy stitches can be used to create a foot thong. Speciality stitches like the popcorn or shell stitch can be used to make a small handbag or make-up bag.
The crocheter simply slips her hook through loops, hooks the yarn and pulls that yarn through to create chain stitches. In order to make the single stitch, she slips her hook through a previous loop, hooks the yarn and pulls it through the two loops on her hook. In the half double crochet, she hooks her hook around the yarn, slides the hook into the third stitch from her hook, pulls the loop through, grabs the yarn with her hook again and pulls the yarn through the three remaining loops on her hook.
In double crochet, she hooks the yarn, slides the hook through the fourth chain from her hook and pulls the yarn through one loop. She now hooks her yarn again and pulls it through two loops on the hook, then repeats this final step. For the triple crochet, she hooks her yarn twice, slides her hook through the fifth chain from her hook and pulls the yarn through one loop on the hook. She hooks her yarn again, pulls it through two loops on her hook, then repeats this step two more times.
Functions of Different Crochet Stitches
Crochet begins with the chain stitch, which is the foundation of any crochet item. This is not an actual stitch--instead, it is the way taller stitches are made at the beginning. The next stitch is the single stitch, a short stitch that creates a tough, dense fabric. Next up is the half double crochet, slightly taller and less dense; the double crochet is taller still and creates a slightly lacier fabric. This stitch is suitable for shawls, light afghans and sweaters. The triple crochet is the tallest common crochet stitch and creates a very lacy, flowing fabric.