Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Crocheted Fabrics - An Introduction


Man has always been attracted towards beauty and in his pursuit of beauty, he has discovered many beautiful things too. Crocheted fabric is one such inventions of men which are made from simple materials like yarn or thread using a crochet hook. Crocheting is very similar to knitting as it is simply pulling loops of yarn through other loops. However, in crocheting, only one loop is active at a time with the exception of Tunisian crochet. It also differs from knitting in respect of its crochet hook which is used instead of knitting needles.

Development of Crocheted Fabrics
It is believed that primitive man did crocheting with the help of bent forefinger and as such there is no material evidence of its existence in those ages. However, crocheting as a tradition was prevalent in Arabia, South America, or China though there is no decisive evidence regarding this. It became popular in 19th century in Europe as craft. With industrialization, when the inexpensive cotton threads became readily available, crocheting saw a boom in its popularity. It saw a downtrend after World War I but again became popular after World War II when people regained their interests in various crafts. The crocheting patterns reappeared in many magazines and in the present times, it is such a popular craft that most of the yarn stores offer crochet lessons along with the traditional knitting lessons apart from full magazines dedicated to the craft of crocheting.

Crocheting Process
Crochet patterns are based on mathematical structure and are quite difficult to understand when viewed in a two-dimensional presentation. Crocheting is done by placing a slip-knot loop on the hook, pulling another loop through the first loop, and repeating this process a number of times till a chain of required length is created. The chain is used in two ways- it is either turned and worked in rows, or joined to the beginning of the row with a slip stitch and worked in rounds. Rounds can also be made by working many stitches into a single loop. Stitches are made by pulling one or more loops through each loop of the chain. At the end of a stitch, there is always only one loop left on the hook.

Types of Crochet
There are many types of crochets that include Filet crochet, Tunisian crochet, broomstick lace, hairpin lace, and Irish crochet among others. Filet crochet is a type of crocheted fabric or a crocheted lace made with chain stitch and the double crochet stitch. It is mainly used to create decorative items such as doilies, tablecloth, coasters, placemats etc. Tunisian crochet is the most unique as it keeps many loops active while crocheting and thus it is sometimes equated with knitting also. Broomstick lace uses a crochet hook and a long slender item like a knitting needle and the fabric made from this type of crochet is used for clothing and blankets. Hairpin lace is made with the help of two parallel metal rods. Strips are made by this method and then joined together to create a lightweight fabric. In Irisish crochet, motifs are made separately and then assembled into a mesh background.
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