In this next article we move from China to France. This may seem like a large jump however, crochet actually started in Europe here first. It came here as part of the trade on the silk road and then expanded to something delicate and light, something we don’t practice with our bulky and warm wool yarns. The word crochet came from the Old French word crochet, meaning ‘small hook.’ Which in turn is from croche. Croche comes from the Germanic word croc. Both mean hook. Now, it’s far as this point to talk about the Germanic states in the 1600’s.
Let’s just cover Germanic states and crochet very briefly here, not because its inconsequential, but because there’s only two really interesting things to come out of the region; the German scalped crochet stitch that’s fairly new to the game and the way they started crocheting. When you are speaking of Germany’s early modern period you are speaking about a time from c.1500 to around 1800. They were divided religiously and politically. It is the time of the Holy Roman Empire (which is neither and empire, nor holy, nor roman…but they tried). It’s also the time of the Reformation (Hello, Martin Luther). These entities being what they were meant that the region was under a constant state of violence both on the ground level and politically.
But court still needed lace and in Germany they believed that one should always keep the tension, either crocheting loosely or tightly but keep to one. The also said that unless you are working in a circle you should tie off every end. Every. End. We wouldn’t work both side of crochet until like 1920……yeah about that. We’ll get there. The German scalp stitch is similar to others buts flourishes are smaller more delicate….its also made with a smaller yarn though not as thin as the French thread used during this same time. That brings us back to the French. Crochetage means a single stitch used to join separate bits of lace together. People used this term in making French lace in the 1600s. The word crochet came to describe both the hook and the craft. Before Yarn crochet was thread crochet. Remember that up to this point yarn as we know it wasn’t a thing for this… that would change in Ireland when threads would become finer and thicker. At this point its a thin thread and they are making lace. Elaborate, expensive lace. This is before patterns are published; we’ll get to that Dutch Penelope article from 1823. When we get to the Danes I’ll also talk about Nalebinding which is knitting and crochet with a needle instead off a hook.
In France, they had the Tambour crochet which also involved beading and is a professional hand beading technique that is performed with a hook in a holder. This holds a shortened French Cornelli needle, and is used to bead onto fabric that is stretched over a frame. This technique is used in French Couture to embellish gowns, interiors and accessories. And we’ve all seen examples of those gowns and surprisingly I’ve even see a how to instagram recently. However if you don’t know what it is you might take it for a trick of the light needle point. The French work is done with the thinnest of threads and the smallest of needles making truly elaborate pieces of art work.
It was this expensive piece of haberdashery that made Ireland embrace the bulky, comfy (more then at hand) sheep’s wool and create something cheeper, stronger and more attainable to everyday life.