What is crochet? Here are 9 potential uses
If you are looking for an engrossing and creative hobby, you might be asking yourself “what is crochet?”. Well, for a start, it’s not knitting! Although to the uninitiated, the two can be confused, as both are yarn crafts. Crochet is fabric is created using a crochet hook to pull loops of yarn through stitches on the previous row working on one stitch at a time, whereas knitting uses knitting needles to form stitches along the length of the needles. Some projects combine the two techniques!
1. Crochet hooks
Crochet hooks can be made from a variety of materials from wood or bone to metal, plastic and bamboo. Ergonomic crochet hooks have a shaped part to hold, making it less tiring on the hands when working for extended periods. There are even crochet hooks with a light, so you can keeping going in the dark!
The all-important yarn can be made from natural fibres — wool, cotton, bamboo, mohair, alpaca, angora, or synthetic materials — acrylic, nylon, polyester, “plarn” (made from strips cut from plastic carrier bags), or a mixture of different fibres.
It’s also possible to make jewellery in crochet. Fine cotton or even wire can be used. Beads can be used to embellish the work, either threaded onto the crochet wire before working, or encased within a crochet mesh. It can be awkward at first to crochet with wire as it seems to have a mind of its own, but the results can be stunning.
Just one more thing — there’s another form of crochet which uses a longer hook; this is Tunisian crochet, which is worked in a different way from usual crochet, and can even look like knitting!
OK, that’s the definition out of the way. Now for the fun part!
3. What can you make with crochet?
Appliqué — small items such as initials or motifs can be worked in crochet and sewn on to other items for identification or adornment.
It’s possible to crochet an item such as an initial or a motif representing an animal, flower, fish, building or location to be applied to crochet, knitted or sewn items.
It’s best to match the fibres used so that the finished article can be washed without fear of distortion through shrinkage.
Baby blankets and shawls — snuggle up the newest member of the family with a handmade blanket!
A blanket can be made mainly for warmth, to ensure baby doesn’t feel cold when venturing outdoors. Alternatively, a delicate and lacy shawl can be made for special occasions, and can be handed down from one generation to the next as a family heirloom.
Baby clothes — keep the little one warm in individual made stylish items! From mittens to bootees and from romper suits to matinee jackets, baby clothes are quick to make and look so cute! Please remember it’s often useful to make larger sizes, as baby clothes are usually outgrown rather than outworn.
Bags — wool items can be felted to make them more of a solid fabric, which makes for ideal backpacks, bags and purses, or openwork patterns that expand to hold just that little bit of extra shopping — I won’t tell if you don’t! Oh, and why not make your own mobile phone sock to match?
If a bag is made using wool, it can be felted by deliberately washing in hot water. This creates a more dense and less stretchy fabric. Note that this will not work with synthetic or superwash wool.
Edgings and trims — collars, cuffs, handkerchiefs, scarves, tablecloths, table runners, table napkins, curtains, sheets, pillowcases and towels — not forgetting the traditional antimacassars to protect furniture — if it has an edge, it can be decorated!
Festive decorations — snowflakes lend themselves to being represented in crochet and displayed during winter.
Home furnishings — from cushion covers and curtains to table cloths, place mats, coasters and tea cosies, not forgetting lacy bedspreads and and throws! There are so many ways to decorate your home with your craft skills, it’s an opportunity not to be missed!
Curtains and bedspreads are more likely to be made using crochet cotton rather than wool or acrylic, so that the stitch definition is clear and a lacy effect can be achieved.
Jewellery and embellishments — it’s easy to create crochet flowers which make ideal embellishments, or necklaces, earrings, bracelets, bangles and rings with beads for extra elegance.
Things to wear — cardigans, cowls, hats and gloves, scarves, shawls, tops, waistcoats… the list goes on! Luckily! There are so many different patterns for warm winter wear or lacy summer weight items, you’re spoilt for choice!
If you have a favourite pattern, you can ring the changes with different colour choices, mixing and matching according to the season.
4. The Royal connection
It is interesting to note that Queen Victoria herself learned to crochet, and it reported that she made crochet scarves for selected war veterans.
It is also said that she was responsible for making crochet lace more fashionable, in this way supporting Irish women struggling during the potato famine in the late 1840s.
It is claimed that Queen Victoria approved of her ladies-in-waiting working on crochet projects.
5. Over to you!
So — what are you waiting for? If you’ve been asking yourself “what is crochet?“, now you know the answer and you can see the range of possibilities for fun and exciting projects… Assemble your crochet hooks, yarn or cotton, and you’ll soon be hooked!
If you are looking for some patterns to get you started, why not browse the Crafty Cavy pattern shop? To start on your crochet journey, have a look at some easy patterns first, such as the simple daisy design.
Other Interesting Reads
Do you know all the terms used for crochet? There are some formal terms as well as "crochet slang"! Let's not forget that there are different terms used in UK and US crochet. A "treble" and a "double crochet" are terms you will hear in both UK and US patterns, but...
Remembrance Day uses poppies as a symbol of the fallen in conflicts during and since the First World War
I watched a series on BBC iPlayer "The Fabric of Britain" which had three episodes: knitting, wallpaper and embroidery. This blog post focuses on the episode on embroidery. The golden age of English embroidery refers to the period 1250 - 1350 when the skilled work of...
I found this interesting article on the fashionoholic website discussing 11 different ways in which knitting and crochet can benefit your health.