Hand crocheted cap (taqiyah) from Cairo, Egypt, purchased in 1997. Hand crocheted cap (taqiyah) from Cairo, Egypt, purchased in 1997. Courtesy Textile Research Centre, Leidden (TRC 1997.0008).

Crochet is a form of lace worked with a hook and a continuous thread. The English word comes from the French crochet for a small hook. Crochet consists of a series of individual loops comparable to a chain stitch, which are combined in a number of different ways to produce various lacy effects.

Crochet is thought by some to date from the sixteenth century in Italy, but this is by no means certain. What is clear, is that it became popular in Europe and elsewhere in the early nineteenth century. It seems to have been first described in a Dutch journal, Pénélopé, in 1824.

It is possible that crochet developed out of tambour embroidery, which is a technique using a small hook to create a chain stitch. Tambour work became very popular in Europe, especially France, in the eighteenth century. It is possible that the idea of crochet developed when the ground material of tambour embroidery was ‘lost.’

One of the earliest known printed crochet patterns was published in a Swedish magazine, Konst och nyhetsmagasin för medborgare av alla klasser that dates from 1819 (now in the Royal Library, Stockholm).

The hooks used for crochet can be made of a wide variety of materials, such as bone, metal or plastic. They are being made both commercially and domestically in a wide variety of sizes. See also the so-called Afghan hook, used for Afghan or Tunisian crochet. The threads used include cotton, linen, metal, silk and wool, as well as a range of synthetic forms.

Crochet is used to make a wide variety of objects, from narrow decorative bands for sewing to bedspreads, collars, pillow cases, table cloths, as well as garments such as cardigans, hats and jumpers, even skirts.


  • CAULFEILD, Sophia Frances Anne and Blanche C. SAWARD (1882). The Dictionary of Needlework, London: Upcott Gill, p. 102-131.
  • EARNSHAW, Pat (1984). A Dictionary of Lace, Aylesbury: Shire Publications Ltd, p. 39.


Source of illustration (retrieved 14 September 2021)


Last modified on Tuesday, 14 September 2021 17:50
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