Research suggests that crochet probably developed most directly Chinese needlework. Since this art is believed to be the oldest; I’ll cover this next for our around the world series. If you look at our previous articles you’ll see Amigurumi; which is essentially the same as crochet, only it refers to the process of making 3-D toys, and Tunisian Simple stitch which takes 4 seconds longer to make then a traditional double crochet stitch (a US single stitch). Neither of these things would be possible without that first Chinese needlework.
Chinese needlework was widespread by the Han Dynasty (1027-221 BCE). There are today five different types the oldest being Yue embroidery from the Guangdong Province and the youngest being the Su school of Chinese Embroidery. However, it is the chain stitches used to make tambour lace and needlelace that are believed to have given us our beginnings in macrame and crochet. Chain stitch is an old craft that archaeologists have found evidence of as far back as the Warring States period between the 5th and 3rd centuries BCE. Excavated from royal tombs, the embroidery and lace was made using silk threads. From here Chain stitch spread to Iran and onto the Silk Road.
There are several Chinese crochet stitches that are popular today and that we will go over in this article. The Chinese Puzzle stitch, the Chinese lanterns stitch and the Chinese lace stitch.
The Chinese Puzzle stitch uses two different types of double crochet to create it. The Puzzle stitch gives a knitted look that if you create squares will give you a beautifully textured Afghan blanket. Please take into consideration before starting such a project that the edges of the squares will not lay flat and you will have to block it. For this I would use a 5.5 or a 6 to complete the pattern. Chain a multiple of 7 its; plus add an additional 4 sets starting the chain. The final finished dimensions will be 8” by 8” blocked. I’ll provide more detail instruction in an upcoming post. The Puzzle stitch and Puzzle Stitch Afghan are one of those challenges we take to brush up on our skills no matter what level you’re at. I love looking at it now in the cold season when I think I’m going to be crocheting. The recommended yarn for this project is Medium weight/Worsted weight and Aran (16-20 stitches to 4 inches).
The next stitch we’ll cover is the Chinese lantern stitch. This stitch is composed of double and single crochet stitches and chain spaces. Chain multiple of 8 and 2 start out this process and again I’ll post more detailed instructions in my tips and patterns sections. This lantern shaped stitch is good for light weight blankets and those that small children will become attached to.
Our last stitch to be discussed in this article is the Chinese lace stitch. This is the oldest of the stitches and you can do this with the lightest weight silk thread or a thicker, hardier yarn for colder months. The lace stitch will require blocking materials and a 3.75mm hook. Unlike some Chinese knitted lace and French lace you won’t need the bobbins. If you are very apt at this stitch you may find you don’t need the blocking though it does come highly recommended. Most lace patterns recommend starting out with a single foundation stitch.