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.
Table of Contents
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
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.”
Defined as: “needlework done with a needle having a small crochet 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. A piece of crochet fabric often requires a larger quantity of yarn compared to a similarly-sized knitted fabric. 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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
- 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 crochet hooks for most projects.
- Crochet stitches look like a collection of small knots
- Unlike knitting, you don’t need different types of hooks to crochet a circle (crochet in the round)
- There’s no need to hold or transfer crochet stitches. Crochet stitches are completed before starting a new one.
What makes knitting unique:
- Uses a pair of long needles (of different sizes and types) to create stitches
- Stitches create a “V” shape
- Different needles are required for different stitches, which can mean that you need to purchase more needles to complete different projects
- 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
- 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.
Image source: Modern Daily Knitting
Picking & Norwegian
Dominant hand + lever
Flicking & Irish Cottage
From the hip
Behind the neck
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.
- Start by learning how to create a slip knot. Slip knots form the beginning of nearly every crochet project.
- Practice starting crochet chain. Crochet chains form the foundation for your first row of stitches and are used to move between rows.
- Once you know how to start a crochet project, make sure you can finish the project by weaving in ends.
- Then, you can start to learn the basic crochet stitches. Simple, common and basic stitches include:
- 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.
Image source: Mama In a Stitch
This crocheted baby afghan only uses single and double crochet stitches. Since it’s a solid-colored crochet 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.
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.
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.
Learning how to crochet a granny square is a crochet fundamental. Granny squares allow you to practice basic crochet skills in a small piece.
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.
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.
Frequently asked questions
What Is The Difference Between Yarn And Crochet Yarn?
Both crochet and knitting can utilize a wide range of yarn types. However, there might be some confusion regarding very fine crochet cotton yarn, which is commonly used with a small crochet hook to create delicate lace items.
It’s important to note that this type of yarn is not exclusive to crochet and can also be used for knitting. On the other hand, if you intend to make cozy winter items, chunky yarn with a large hook can be employed for both knitting and crocheting. The thicker yarns are versatile and suitable for either craft.
Which is faster: knitting or crocheting?
Crochet tends to be a faster craft compared to knitting. This is because crochet stitches are typically taller than knitting stitches, allowing you to cover more ground with each stitch. However, as with any skill, speed improves with practice. The more you dedicate yourself to knitting or crocheting, the more adept and efficient you’ll become.
Can I use different yarn weights in crochet?
Yes, crochet allows for versatility in terms of yarn weights. Different projects require different weights of yarn, ranging from lace-weight (super fine) to bulky (super thick). It’s important to match the recommended yarn weight mentioned in the pattern for the best results.
How does crochet differ from knitting?
While both crochet and knitting are needlecraft techniques, they differ in the tools and stitches used. Crochet uses a single hook to create stitches, while knitting uses two or more needles to create loops and interweave them.