What is Crochet

What is Crochet: The Complete Guide to Crochet.

Have you ever been curious as to what is crochet? Wonder no more. Whether you realize it or not, you’ve definitely encountered some form of crochet in your life.

After reading this article, you’ll feel confident discussing crochet with even your craftiest friends. You might even feel inspired to learn how to crochet! This article will cover:

    • What crochet means,
    • When crochet was invented,
    • The tools needed to crochet,
    • The difference between crochet and knitting,
    • And samples of crochet projects.

What Does Crochet Mean?

First things first, what is the definition of crochet? The word crochet can be used in two different (but similar ways), namely:

Part of Speech

Definition Example Sentence

Verb

Defined as: “to make (a piece of) needlework using a hooked needle to make interlocking loops of thread.”

“I am crocheting a hat right now.”

Noun

Defined as: “needlework done with a needle having a small hook at one end for drawing the thread or yarn through intertwined loops.”

“This is a beautifully made piece of crochet.” 

In other words, “crochet” can refer to the act of creating needlework and the textile itself. Let’s take a deeper look at the two definitions of crochet.

In summary, the crochet textile is made by interlocking loops of yarn using a crochet hook. Although yarn is the most common material used to make crochet, other materials (such as metal, different types of fabric, plastic, and more) can also create crochet.

Crocheted wire jewelry book
Image source: Crochet Concupiscence

The needlework technique is frequently used to make clothes, such as crochet tops, crochet tank-tops, and trendy crochet bikini tops. If you look in your closet, you will probably find at least one crocheted clothing item!

Besides clothing items, crochet is a popular method of crafting accessories for the winter months, such as cozy crochet scarves, cute crochet beanies, and warm crochet hats.

When Was Crochet Invented?

The exact origins of crochet are unknown, but historians believe that modern crochet is connected to 18th-century French tambour embroidery. The term “crochet” itself is derived from the old french word crochet, which translates to “small hook.” 

The term was used in France’s 17th century lace-making industry, to describe both the textile and the hooked needle used to create a stitch connecting pieces of lace.

What is crochet
Image source: Jennifer Stumpf Blogspot

The earliest discovered crochet instructions published for public use were found in the Dutch magazine Penelope in the year 1823. The crochet patterns included three different purse styles to be crocheted with silk thread.

What does crochet mean
Image source: Tuppence

A few decades after the Penelope publication, Elizabeth Grant’s memoirs were published. Grant wrote about “shepherd’s knitting” (crochet) in an 1812 entry. This is the earliest known English reference to crochet.

In the 19th century Ireland, crochet was introduced as a method of famine relief from the Great Irish Famine. Irish workers made crochet lace to sell and children were even taught to crochet in school. It’s believed that when the Irish migrated to the United States, they brought crochet with them.

When was crochet invented
Image source: Selvedge

What Is the Difference Between Crochet and Knitting?

Now that you know what crochet means, you might still be confused on what separates crochet from knitting. At first glance, the two techniques look similar, but a few key differences separate the two crafts.

Knitting vs crochet
Image source: Knitting Stitches

Crochet and knitting are both needlework techniques that require skill and patience to learn. The similarities between knitting and crochet include:

    • Both are methods of stitching yarn together
    • Health benefits, including mental benefits, are the same
    • Similar projects take approximately the same amount of time
    • Reading a chart or pattern is required for both techniques
    • Both techniques require careful planning of the time and materials needed to complete a project.

These important similarities mean that those new to both crafts can freely choose which they would prefer. If you’re not sure which technique you’d like to learn, review the defining characteristics of crochet and knitting below.

What makes crochet unique:

    1. Crochet uses a single hook, which comes in a range of styles but is consistent in shape. Beginners can get away with using a few basic hooks for most projects.
    2. Crochet stitches look like a collection of small knots
    3. Unlike knitting, you don’t need different types of hooks to crochet a circle (crochet in the round)
    4. There’s no need to hold or transfer crochet stitches. Crochet stitches are completed before starting a new one.

What makes knitting unique:

    1. Uses a pair of long needles (of different sizes and types) to create stitches
    2. Stitches create a “V” shape
    3. Different needles are required for different stitches, which can mean that you need to purchase more needles to complete different projects
    4. There are several different types of knitting techniques, which can create different effects in the finished project. Different knitting styles are generally categorized into western, eastern, and combination knitting methods. Common examples of knitting styles include:
      • English knitting
      • german/continental knitting
      • Lever knitting
      • Portugese
      • Shetland knitting

      5. Pausing a knit project might require you to leave stitches “open”  on both needles, making it difficult to transport. You might need to use needle stoppers and/or stitch holders to travel with your knitting.

What is crochet definition
Image source: Modern Daily Knitting

Yarn Position

Western

Eastern

Combination 

Knitting

Dominant hand

Throwing

English combination

Non-dominant hand

Picking & Norwegian

Eastern uncrossed

Continental Combination

Dominant hand + lever

Flicking & Irish Cottage

From the hip

Shetland

Behind the neck

Portugese

Learning Crochet: Where to Start

If you’ve decided that crochet is the needlework technique for you, then it’s time to start stitching! The world of crochet can be overwhelming for new crafters, so let’s review the most essential crochet skills in their recommended order.

Good news: you don’t have to know how to sew or learn how to sew in order to become a master crocheter. Pick up a pack of basic crochet needles and some beginner-friendly yarn and you’re ready to go!

    1. Start by learning how to create a slip knot. Slip knots form the beginning of nearly every crochet project.
    2. Practice starting crochet chain. Crochet chains form the foundation for your first row of stitches and are used to move between rows.
    3. Once you know how to start a crochet project, make sure you can finish the project by weaving in ends.
    4. Then, you can start to learn the basic crochet stitches. Simple, common stitches include:
    5. You may want to learn even more stitches at this point, but don’t forget to practice changing colors in crochet. This is essential for creating colorful, patterned projects.

The list might look short, but becoming truly confident in all of the above skills will require time, patience, and perseverance. Don’t give up! If you need extra motivation, try completing a small, simple project that only requires one or two stitches.

As you start to tackle more ambitious projects, you’ll discover new stitches and techniques to learn, such as the triple crochet stitch, crocheting in the round, magic circles, increasing, and decreasing. Enjoy discovering new techniques as your skills grow.

Beginner-Friendly Crochet Projects

Once you’ve gotten the hang of the crochet basics, you are ready to create your first project! Browse the list of beginner-friendly crochet projects below.

Crocheted Baby Blanket

Learning how to crochet a baby blanket is an excellent first crochet project because it is fairly small and can be made with very few stitch types.

Basic crocheted blanket
Image source: Mama In a Stitch

This crocheted baby afghan only uses single and double crochet stitches. Since it’s a solid-colored pattern, you don’t even need to learn how to change colors.

Soon, you’ll be producing baby blankets at a rapid pace. If you love making these but don’t want to give them all away, consider adding customized care labels and selling them in an online crochet store.

Crocheted Blanket

After mastering a small, simple blanket, learning how to crochet a blanket with a bit of color in a regular size should be an easy next step. 

What is the definition of crochet
Image source: Easy Crochet

This chunky crochet blanket pattern only uses two stitches, although you will have to switch colors to create the colorful stripes. Add a custom woven label to personalize the blanket, and gift it to a loved one.

Granny Square

Learning how to crochet a granny square is a crochet fundamental. Granny squares allow you to practice basic crochet skills in a small piece.

Crochet summer flower top free pattern
Image source: Share a Pattern

As an added bonus, granny squares can also be stitched together to create larger items like the crochet halter top pictured above. After branding the crochet top with a custom hang tag, it would also make a great addition to a crochet store.

Crochet Flower

Crochet flowers can range from the simple to the ornate. This simple crochet flower pattern would make a beautiful finishing touch to a crochet beanie.

Easy crochet flowers
Image source: Annie Design Crochet

You can also use your yarn scraps creatively by creating these types of small, decorative pieces. These flowers require you to be able to crochet in a circle, but the stitches are very basic.

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