Wednesday, June 9, 2010

History of Crochet

This information was gleaned from  and forwarded by Bev for our information.

The modern needlework technique, crochet, stems from an embroidery technique
called Tambour Work or Tambour Embroidery. Tambour Embroidery was widely
used to create a single, continuous chain stitch on either a piece of fabric
or a net ground, depending on the time period. Early samples of Tambour Work
are dated to the fourteenth century in liturgical textiles almost
exclusively. This work was executed by nuns and was also referred to as
Nun's Work.
One of the many symbols of freedom that came out of the French Revolution
was Crocheted Lace. Since the people were free from the foundation and
restraints of the old government, lace making became a statement of being
freed from the old ways of manufacture. The word "frivolitaire" was used to
describe crochet and this new technique was categorized under "Punto en
Aria", literally "stitch made in the air".
Crochet is worked without a foundation pattern. Soon ladies of quality and
leisure were crocheting everywhere as a sign of their freedom from tyranny.
The novelty of crocheted lace did wear off and the market was restored for
bobbin and needle made laces. Thus crochet fell out of favor until the Great
Potato Famine struck Ireland in the mid nineteenth century. In an effort to
bolster the Irish economy as well as help feed the thousands of starving
Irish, crocheted lace was introduced to the Irish poorer classes by nuns and
charitable English women. Queen Victoria did her part by making Irish
Crocheted Lace popular in english society as well as throughout the
With the onset of the twentieth century, lady's magazines published patterns
for many types of homemade crafts and crocheted lace continued.
It should be noted that up to this point in history, all crochet was done
with fine cotton or linen thread, not yarn. Knitting was still the method of
choice for working with wool, so socks, sweaters, comforters were still
knitted. The bulky yarns and super sized hooks which are much used today
came along during the post World War Two era and reached a heyday in the
1960's with the various back-to-nature movements. Because heavy yarns and
large hooks worked up much faster than the fine steel hooks manipulating
fine thread, the Jiffy Crochet gained favor. A person could quickly turn out
a handmade article without putting too much time into the work.
Chain stitch is also known as tambour stitch and point de chainette. Chain
stitch is one of the oldest of the decorative stitches and is the basis of a
large group of stitches.


Tambour embroidery, introduced to the Western world by France, is a
continuous worked chain stitch formed with a tambour hook, which forms a
loop similar to a crochet chain. The stitch is formed on the fabric with the
thread held underneath in one hand while the other hand inserts the hook
down through the fabric to catch the thread. The needle is brought back
through the same hole, forming a loop. The following stitches are formed a
short distance from the previous stitch, catching the loop of the last
stitch at the beginning of the next.
The Chinese introduced this embroidery technique to the French during the
later part of the 18th century. The French term "tambour: (meaning) a drum"
best described the technique that required the ground fabric to be first
stretched taught in a frame before the stitching was begun. The embroidery
yarns used for a tambour stitch could be: a single strands of floss, twisted
silk, metal or fine silk chenille threads. Even though the stitch itself was
simple, the elegant yarns coupled with the intricate shading and elaborate
designs tended to create extraordinary thread painted works of art.


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