Crochet as we know it, started around the early 1900s. It started as a cheap alternative to lace. It was also around this time crochet hooks began to adjust in size to accommodate the new thicknesses of yarn available.
It wasn’t until the 1920s and 1930s that it was seen as more than just a decorative embellishment.
1920s Irish Crochet Collar
In the 1940s is was a huge part of the war efforts in both the United States and Europe. Women at home crocheted items for the troops.
1940s crochet apron
The first “boom” in crochet happened in the 1960s, when crochet homeware became all the rage. The granny square because increasingly popular, as it is a simple design that can be made into so many clothing options and accessories.
1960s crochet dress
From there crochet began to die out again, before regaining popularity in the last decade or so. Today it is so much easier to find and obtain crochet supplies and to learn crochet. I do have to wonder though, what the crocheters of the 1500s would think of our skills. What may seem advanced, and highly skilled to us, may seem like very elementary level skills to them as early examples of crochet are a mix of lace work, crochet and knitting all at once.
While gone are the days where we had to know how to crochet to make ourselves socks because we just couldn’t go out and buy another pair, or a new blanket because the old one was tattered beyond use, Crochet is still, in my opinion, a useful skill to have.
The word Crochet comes from croc, or croche, the Middle French word for hook, as well as the Old Norse word for hook, krokr. In Holland it is known as Haken, in Denmark, Haekling, in Norway it is Hekling, and in Sweden it is Virkning.
Crochet, itself, is the art of creating fabric from yarn, thread, or any other stranded material using a hook. The material is worked into loops, forming a smooth chain, then followed by any pattern of your choosing.
Through out history, Crochet has been called many things, netting, knotting, needle-coiling, Tunisian crochet, looped needle-netting, Irish crochet, Shepard’s knitting, lace making, and tatting. Each of these techniques, among many others that have also been called Crochet, are worked up with one type of hook, or needle.
Depending on who you ask, the first confirmed traces of Crochet are from somewhere between 1500 (Italy) and 1800 (Europe) BC. These traces are based on the hand technique of Crochet, though this is likely a Middle Eastern technique that has shifted over the times to other civilizations. In Italy and France it was known as Nun’s work or Nun’s Lace. It reached Europe in the 1700s, though at that time it was known as Tambouring. Tambouring bears a strong resemblance to needlework and embroidery, just with crochet stitches. Tambouring is most likely thought to have developed from Chinese needlework, which in itself is a very ancient from of embroidery known in Turkey, India, Persia, and North Africa. Towards the end of the 18th Century, Tambour crochet evolved to no longer need a fabric background and the stitching was worked on its own. Still using a tambouring hook, it became known as “Crochet in the air”.
This is an example of Tambour Crochet. It is very similar to modern day crewel embroidery.
From then on, crochet evolved into shepard’s knitting, then into Irish Crochet during the potato famine (1845-1850). Irish Crochet literally saved lives as it allowed them to work and make money without relying on crops.
Modern Crochet, as we know it, started in the early 1900s. Which I will cover in part 2 of my History of Crochet mini series.
Crochet baby blankets, they pop up every time someone has a baby. I have nothing against them. I even make a few every year for people. I also get into discussions about what patterns and what yarns to use in them with the people asking for them and people asking my opinion about a particular yarn and/or a particular pattern.
So now I’m going to write my personal recommendations on the subject. These are my personal views, and I know there are others who think otherwise, but these are what I use for baby blankets, based on my own experiences and research on the subject.
The yarn you use is, to me, the most important part of the blanket. Overall, acrylic yarn is the number one type of yarn recommended for newborns, though there are others. Natural animal-based fibers, like wool, can cause allergic reactions in newborns. Newborns have very sensitive skin and can find wool more scratchy and itchy than softer yarns.
Softer yarns, besides acrylic, include cotton and bamboo. Cotton and bamboo are plant-based natural fiber yarns. I, personally, use Caron One Pound yards, but if you’re really unsure what to use, look for a yarn that has baby in the name. These yarns are specifically made for baby related items. If you can’t find any of those, use the softest yarn you can find.
The pattern you choose also requires some thought. You want a pattern that doesn’t contain large holes, like the a Granny Square, or a Virus Pattern Blanket. I am aware that there are pattern books that provide fillet patterns and granny chevron baby blanket patterns. I don’t use these patterns as I’ve had babies get tangled in the hole of the patterns to the point that the blankets had to be cut up to prevent damage to the baby. If you do choose on of these patterns, I strongly urge you not to leave the baby alone with the blanket until you are sure them can get themselves untangled from it.
My go-to patterns for baby blankets is a chevron pattern that uses single stitches and half-double crochet stitches. As you can see from the photo below, the holes are much smaller and its stitch work is much tighter, meaning is will be warm, and yet still soft enough for a newborn. It will also last a long time as there is less risk of it getting caught on something and ripped.
There are hundreds of patterns to choose from, a simple internet search will bring them to you. Look at them and choose one that you feel is appropriate for the baby you are making, or requesting, a blanket for.
So I went over this a little in my post about crochet tools, but given the comments I got in reference to this particular subject, I have decided to devote an entire post to it.
A crochet hook, in it’s most basic form is a tool consisting of a slender handle with a hook at one (or both) ends, which is then used to pull thread or yarn through loops to create various stitches. The sizes, handles, and materials can vary and each has its own benefits and drawbacks from the ease of use to price and comfort.
Crochet hooks come in 4 general materials steel, aluminum, plastic and wood, though there are more.
Steel hooks are the smallest and mostly used in fine thread crochet such as lace and doilies. The sizes run 0.6mm (size 14) to 3mm (size 00).
Aluminum hooks are available in a large range of sizes. These allow you to crochet smoothly and quickly.
Plastic crochet hooks are available to the most common sizes and the jumbo sizes. These are usually large and hollow to keep it light weight.
Wood hooks tend, in general, be the most expensive option. They are also the smoothest option and have a natural warmth to them.
There is a crochet hook type known as Ergonomic. this type is shaped in a way to reduce the amount of stress on the hand and to reduce risk of injuries.
There are two types of crochet heads, rounded and pointed. Hooks with a rounded head is ideal for plied yarns that are prone to spitting, Pointed heads and ideal for crocheting really dense fabric.
As you can see from the above photo between the shaft and the head is the throat. There is two types of throats for a crochet hook, in-line and tapered. An in-line throat has more of a rigid decrease that tends to have a snug hold on the yarn. The tapered throat is easier for beginners as the yarn doesn’t slide off as easy. These are also good for finer weight yarns.
Note: You DO NOT need to use a tapered hook, even if you are a beginner. Try both types and find what is easier for you. I am partial to tapered hooks, however I do own a few tapered in my collection.
In general there are two types of ways to hold a crochet hook. A pencil grip and a knife grip. Both are held exactly like you think.
I don’t hold my hook in either of these methods, as I am left-handed and was taught by right handed people, so I hold my hook with my right hand in a vise-grip like manner. Try both general methods with you dominant hand and if neither of those on comfortable, find what works best for you.
I left this for last because it can get complicated. The sizing of crochet hooks can vary from country to country and manufacturer to manufacturer. I could spend pages going through the differences, but instead, I scoured the internet and found this helpful guide to crochet sizes and the conversions between the hooks in the United States and the United Kingdom.
As you can see, while both countries use MM measurements, the US uses letters and numbers in their sizing and the UK uses just numbers.
As promised I kept this somewhat short and hopefully easy to understand.
That’s it for now. I hope everyone stays safe in these odd times and I’ll see you on the social media or my next blog post.
Greetings and apologies for the long delay. Life, Covid-19, and general chaos have been keeping me busy.
Before I get into the types and definitions of the more common types of yarns, I want to go over some of the more common terms used when describing yarns. You may be familiar with these terms already, but for those who aren’t, I’m going to list them anyways.
Absorbency: How well a fiber holds water. A fiber’s absorbency is used to determine it’s sweat absorption and it’s suitability for warm weather wear.
Breath-ability: How well air passes through a fiber.
Dye-ability: How well a fiber accepts and then holds dye.
Hand/Handle: This refers to any tactile descriptions, i.e. softness, resiliency
Loft: This refers to the amount of air in between the fibers.
Elasticity (aka Resiliency): How well, and how quickly, it resumes it’s natural shape after being stretched.
Thickness: The diameter of the fiber, measured in micrometers.
Now that that’s been taken care of, onto the Yarn types.
I’m going to start with the plant-based yarns.
Plant Based Yarns:
Cotton: Usually dull in sheen, has almost no elasticity unless blended with another fiber type. Pure cotton is good for utilitarian type items, such as purses, tote bags, wash clothes, dish clothes and place mats. Egyptian Cotton has the longest fibers among the cotton types, it is also the smoothest and the softest. Pima Cotton is a cross between Egyptian and American Cottons. American Cotton has medium-long fibers and readily takes dyes. American cotton is also available is the largest array of colors.
Linen is a good, strong fiber. It is also good for warm weather items.
Bamboo Bast which should never be confused with Bamboo Rayon, has an elegant sheen. It is also not as common as the bamboo rayon.
Animal Based Yarn:
Wool: A special note about wool. It is not recommended for children under the age of 3 as due to the sensitivity of their skin it can cause an allergic reaction. I’m only going to cover the 2 most common types of wool yarn here. Merino Wool is softer than cotton, but it does tend to pill. Icelandic Wool: is a strong wool, but it is scratchy feeling to most people.
Mohair is lofty and luxurious, though it is best used as an outer layer as it may feel scratchy to some.
Cashmere is very soft, very luxurious and it tends to be one of the most expensive yarns on the market when it’s pure cashmere.
Alpaca is a very warm yarn and is best suited for accessories such as scarves and hats.
Angora yarn is very soft. It also tends to shed. It is bested used as an accent or blended with other fibers if you plan on using it in a larger project.
Silk is exceptionally strong. It is also lustrous and shiny. It is good for summer wear as it tends to be light weight.
Note: synthetic yarn is, generally, any yarn that is made through, primarily, artificial means.
Acrylic yarn washes very well, is inexpensive, and is good for beginners. It is also good for anything for babies and pets. I would however like to point out that acrylic yarn, and items made from acrylic yarns, should not be kept near anything that gives off large amounts of heat, as speaking from experience, this causes the yarn to change color.
Nylon yarn is strong, very elastic, and washes well. However, it is not ideal for garments unless it is blended with other fibers.
Rayon yarns are made when processed cellulose (i.e. wood pulp, bamboo, seaweed) is extruded into threads. It is, most of the time, inexpensive. It is also highly absorbent and has a natural sheen.
What I have listed is a general list of yarn types and, on some recommended uses. I do not use most of these for a number of reasons. Feel free to experiment with them to see what kinds you prefer and which ones you don’t.
My next 2 posts will be on hooks, because I feel there is enough info out there to devote an entire blog to crochet hooks, and novelty yarns. The novelty yarns may take longer, just because I don’t really use them personally, as I don’t have the patience for them.
Yarn, at it’s simplest form, a long and continuous length of interlocked fibers.
Though, in reality, yarn is so much more complicated than that.
To start with, yarn is usually measured and sold by the weight, rather than the length. This is because of the differences in the yarn thickness. An example of this is 50g of a lightweight lace yarn would be a few hundred meters in length, where are a 50g bulky weight yarn is only about 60 meters in length.
Any yarn can be classified into one of two fiber classes, natural and synthetic. Synthetic fiber is an acrylic or polyester material. Natural fiber is either a plant-based or a protein-based fiber.
The most common plant-based fibers are cotton and linen. Other plant fibers include bamboo, hemp, maize, nettles and soy. All of these fibers tend to be less elastic and retain less warmth than protein fibers, though this is not always the case. These types of yarns are usually want is recommended for babies and hospitals as they are least likely to cause an allergic reaction.
Wool is the most common protein-based fiber. Other common protein fibers are alpaca, angora, mohair, llama, cashmere, and silk. Others, less commonly used in the main stream, are camel, yak, possum, musk ox, vicuna, car, dog, wolf, rabbit bison and chinchilla. Protein yarns are basically any yarn that is made from an animal (is hair, feathers, sill, etc.). These yarns have the advantage of being slightly elastic and very breathable, while at the same time, trapping a lot of air, making these among the warmest yarns available. There are more than a few protein based yarns that can cause an allergic reaction.
There is a type of yarn that can fall into either main category. It is call T-shirt yarn. The make-up of t-shirt yarn depends solely on the materials used to make the shirt.
Generally speaking, when it comes to crochet, knitting and weaving, acrylic and wool yarns are the most common. Here in the US, the biggest 4 suppliers of acrylic yarn are Red Heart Yarns, Lion Brand, Caron Yarn and Bernat, these can be found in any big box craft store and a few home good stores. Wool is usually found at the local yarn store, more commonly call LYS, or the can be found on-line. These tend to be done is small batches and usually dyed by hand. A brand called Lily Sugar ‘n Cream, a mainstream cotton brand, can by found is any Joann’s Fabric or Michaels craft store.
Yarns may be used either dyed or undyed. Dyed yarns are colored with either an artificial dyes or natural dyes. Outside of solid colored yarn, variegated yarns can fall under one of five categories:
I’ll get more into this when I discuss novelty yarns in a later blog post.
Earlier, I discussed yarn types as a thickness. There are 9 official thicknesses that are generally the same between manufacturers. Here is a handy cart from http://www.lionbrand.com/yarn-by-weight that can explain it better than I can.
That’s it for now. My next post I’ll get more into the types of fibers, their descriptions as well as their most common uses.
So I’ve been debating how I’ve wanted to write this for awhile. There are so many of these lists out on the internet, some of them are more comprehensive than others. I’m going to attempt to keep this list somewhere between the simple and overly comprehensive.
There are 4 basic supplies I feel that every crocheter should absolutely have. Yarn, hooks, scissors, and yarn needles. There are other supplies, that I’ll get into later. Of those, a few are important but not absolutely necessary from the get go and the rest are, in my opinion, completely optional.
There are enough basics on yarn, that it will be getting its own blog post soon.
So at the most basic there are 2 types of crochet heads and 3 types of materials.
The hook heads are In-line and tapered. Note: One is not better that the other. Which head type you use is completely up to you. I’m partial to the tapered head, but I know crocheters who only use in-line heads. I do own both types. This photo, courtesy of www.dabblesandbabbles.com, show’s the visual difference between the two.
Material-wise, the majority of hooks are made from aluminum, wood or plastic. Very tiny headed hooks, meant for lace work, though they can be used for very tiny stitches, are made of steel. The aluminum hooks, at least here in the US, are either made by Susan Bates (In-line Head type) or Boye (Tapered Head type). Both of these can be found at most commercial craft stores. Wood hooks, usually bamboo or a hardwood and not as slippery as aluminum or plastic hooks and are best suited for slower crochet work. I own a set of rosewood hooks for this purpose. Plastic hooks tend to be in the larger hook sizes and I find them best for really young children who are first learning or when I have to fly somewhere as not all airlines approve of metal crochet hooks in carry-on baggage.
Hook sizing can get confusing since the US sizing is done with a combination of letters and numbers, and everywhere else does sizing in millimetres. The sizing in the US can also differ between manufacturers. The millimetre sizing however, is universal. Most patterns list the mm hook sizing rather than the US sizing, though there are some patterns that only list the US sizing. there are multiple hook conversion lists on the internet.
There is much more to hooks, but this is just the basics. If I get a request for it, I’ll write a whole blog post on the subject.
A good pair of scissors is a must. I use a standard sized pair, but a small pair will work just fine. Please make sure that these are sharp, as dull scissors can prevent a clean cut of the yarn and make it that much harder the thread in the ends once the project is finished.
A yarn needle is always useful. They make sewing in the ends so much quicker, and depending on what you are doing, assembling pieces together. Yarn needles are also referred to as tapestry needles and darning needles. They can be either metal or plastic and they are also dulled at the point, rather than sharp the way a regular needle is.
Now for the optional crochet things.
This one, I consider important, but not absolutely necessary. A book on crochet stitches. I own a few and I do consult them from time to time. I’m not referring to a pattern book, though those are good to have to (I have over a dozen at this point and I get new ones every few months). A good crochet book will have a lot of basic crochet stitches, with written steps, diagrams of the layout, and a picture of the finished stitch. My favorite in my collection so far is 500 Crochet Stitches: The Ultimate Crochet Bible.
Things that are optional:
A hook case. A case is good, if you only have one set of hooks, though if you have many sets, or a lot of hooks, anything that can hold them all in one spot works too. I have a friend that has all of hers in an old coffee can. I believe she’s about to find something bigger as the can can just barely hold all of hers that she’s collected over the years. I keep all of mine in an old pringles can, as I have long, Tunisian hooks (more on those in a later post) in my collection.
A tape measure. By this, I’m referring to a sewing tape measure. This is used for figuring out gauging, though there are a few patterns that I’m aware of that tell you to crochet to a certain length rather than until you reach a certain row number.
Stitch markers. Some people use these, some people don’t. They are great for keeping track of stitch multiples on large projects, or for marking where the next round starts if you’re doing amigurumi. I personally don’t use them for that. I do own them, but I use them to hold a stitch if I’m putting the project down for awhile, as I know the hook may fall out of the project, of the yarn may get pulled on, and thus removing stitches, before I get back to it.
Row/Stitch counter. I, personally, don’t use them. I know people that do, and they love them. I don’t care for them. They keep track of your counting for you, mainly so you don’t have to.
Crochet materials storage: How you choose to store you yarn and tools is entirely up to you. I have two 27 gallon totes, one holds my extra amigurumi supplies and that other holds all of the products I’m made for my Etsy shop. I have a third one for when that first gets full. My tools and odds and ends are split between a 31 bag and a cardboard box and all of my yarn is kept in a canvas bin that I found on clearance at Burlington Coat Factory with what yarn I am currently using sitting in a farmers market bag sitting on top of the aforementioned canvas bin. This set up works for me, but my needs will probably be different that yours. Experiment a little and find what works for you. If you have a whole room to dedicate to it, awesome. If you don’t, that’s fine. I have a little corner of the living room with my bins being stored in the dining area just so I don’t have to keep going to the garage.
I would add more, but I feel like I’ve probably written enough for the moment as is. Please let me know if you have any questions, and I’ll try to answer them as best as I can.
So, over the weekend I went and ordered some patterns. I still need to get 2 more, but I have the 4 main ones that I will need.
I ordered them from TruelyVictorian.info. (I am in no way reimbursed for this plug)
I will, probably for the next few years, be attempting to make a Victorian Day Dress circa 1880s. The tail bodice is circa 1883, the overskirt is circa 1886, the underskirt is circa 1885, and I’ll be using a corset pattern from 1880.
I still need to get a chemise pattern and a bustle pattern. I just need to do some more research on the types of bustles and chemises from that era to decide which route I want to go.
I have no idea what colors will be in this dress, nor what types of accents I’ll be using.
I’m waiting on the patterns to get here so I can see what materials are recommended. After that, once I decide materials, I’ll decide on colors.
As previously mentioned, this is a multi year project, and that’s for a number of reasons. The first being that I do not currently own a dress form. The second being space. I don’t have space for a sewing machine, which is fine, because if I stay period true to this dress, I’ll be doing a lot of hand sewing.
Just a quick-ish update, given how the world, as a whole, has lost its damn mind.
On the store front, I am still in the process of making product to replenish what sold out during my birthday sale. The sale did alot better that any of my other sales have in the past. I made the same amount of money during those 4 days as I did in the last year combined.
I also learned that the dice bags and crowns sell better than the octojelly do. So as much as I love my octojelly, I’ll be making more of those. I bought some beads to experiment with. Might add them to the crowns, or the bags, or both, I haven’t fully decided yet.
On the mom front, my little one has either a sore throat or strep throat. Given his lack of social interactions with the public, (he is very, very wary of people he doesn’t see on a regualr basis and even then it’s iffy about who he interacts with), I am 100% certain that he doesn’t have the current (according to the media) world ending virus.
Remember, just because he might be 100% healthy, doesn’t mean that there isn’t someone around you that is at a high risk to catch this thing.
Safe safe everyone, and remember to look after your elderly nieghbors who might not have anyone else looking after them during this mass stupidity.
An octojelly is a cross between an octopus and a jellyfish.
My octojellies started out as a pattern for an octopus in a crochet book I got for Christmas a few years ago. The original pattern is for an octopus that is roughly 2 inches x 1.5 inches.
In my excitement to try a new pattern, I used what I had on hand. The completely wrong hook size and the wrong yarn. The ending result was a funky looking octopus that was 6 inches across and about 10 inches in length if you count the tentacles.
A friend of mine fell in love with the thing, and I started getting requests for more.
At this point I was still calling them octopus. They because octojelly after another friend of mine’s kids recieved theirs and decided that they were not octopus, nor were they jellyfish. The kids decided that they were a cross between the two, and thus, the octojelly was born.
Granted these days, as I’ve made more, they look more like octopus with the right yarn, I do still get to ones that look like my original attempt at the pattern.
Since then I’ve branched into making other things, dice bags and crochet crowns, for example. The octojellies are still at the heart of my shop