Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Who Wants To Learn How To Crochet? Free Video Tutorials

Learn the basic crochet stitches. These are some of the stitches I use when I crochet my hats. Click on each link to learn each stitch. Remember, learn each stitch from top to bottom in that order. You must either have Quicktime or Windows Media Player installed. Happy Crocheting!

The Chain Stitch

The Slip Stitch

The Single Crochet Stitch

The Extended Single Crochet Stitch
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What is Crochet?

Crochet is the act of using a hook and a length of yarn to create an interlocking looped fabric for handbags, clothing, and any number of apparel, accessory, or house-ware items. Crochet gets its name from the French and Germanic derivative of "croc," which means "crook" as in "hook." The decorative hook below (created by Brian of Brainsbarn) is an example of how the head of a crochet hook is crooked, hence the name:
Brainsbarn crochet hook
There is no specific date associated with the invention of crochet, but many believe that it has been used to create decorative lacy edgings for church vestments as well as warm, wool clothing for at least the last two hundred years or so. The craft of crochet made its way around Europe and into the homes of many women.
Thread crochet became popular in Ireland in the mid-19th century, producing a host of intricate, lace-like items such as collars, cuffs, doilies, etc., all of which were inspired by decorative lace needlework from previous centuries. Some women were able to earn a living making crocheted items, saving themselves and their family from hunger during the famine. Many thought it was charitable to buy the faux lace from the poor in an effort to help those less fortunate. And for the first time, commoners could afford them too, much to the chagrin of the wealthy. At the end of the famine, companies stepped in to earn a profit and as the demand for these crocheted items increased, the quality of the work decreased.

Eventually crochet made its way to America, as most things did during that time period. Women of the 1920's grew more liberated, yet sported their crochet on a smaller scale in the form of lacy underthings, not to be seen by all. And of course, there was the 1960's and 70's. Young people took up the art form as a modern rebellion, creating an array of items using new materials beyond yarn. Rope, leather strands, raffia, cord and of course colorful yarns were used (some say abused!) by both women and men. This is where some theorize crochet became seen by many as the simpleton sister of knitting, sort of a one trick pony, if you will. While knitting has endured many centuries, crochet has come and gone like a fashion trend, and with each new emergence into the fiber community, it has undergone a life-altering "make-over." Moreover, the history of crochet is not as consistent as that of knitting, and in that regard, it's lead a more interesting "life."

Crochet has once again emerged as a popular pastime by people of varying ages, and continues to count men amongst its followers. The advent of new yarns and other crochet-able materials, as well as the increase in fashionable crochet designers and magazines dedicated to the craft, have all put crochet back in the limelight. Equally interesting is the history of the crochet hook.

Hooks have been discovered before the 19th century, but there is no evidence to suggest they were actually used to create crocheted items. The earliest hooks were just as intricately detailed as the work being created with them. Crochet hooks themselves have undergone a change, with the earliest ones being made from bone, ivory tusks, and wood. Today, aluminum hooks like the one below are commonly found in most craft stores that sell yarn:

tunisian crochet hook

Larger plastic lucite hooks are used for patterns that require a larger gauge, like blankets, pillows, and scarves:

crochet on the double hook

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