HNW - h-needlework V1 #450

Chris Laning claning at
Tue Sep 14 21:15:34 PDT 1999

Kathryn wrote, in response to me:
>>The best reference I've found on the history of crochet is Lis
>>Paludan's_Crochet: History and Technique_ (Interweave Press). She only has
>>a few pages on early history, but it's more than anyone else has.>
>I agree. I took a deep breath and paid the $35.00 it cost, but it was well
>worth it.  BTW, everyone try to avoid that strange book whose title is
>something like "Crochet: A Living Mystery". Once the author jumped to
>various conclusions she felt she had "proved" that crochet was ancient,
>then dragged in all sorts of other needlework forms for some reason I never
>could fathom. Very odd.

I actually bought that one, too, when I saw a copy on one of the used book
services on the Web for under $30. I was very curious because a lot of
people cite a particular example from that book and claim that it really
*is* a piece of crochet from an Egyptian tomb.

The example she shows is from a museum in Athens, and it's clear why the
author fell in love with it. At first glance, it looks strikingly like a
piece of a crocheted "ripple afghan". However I've scanned and enlarged the
photo, and examined it closely, and it's clear that whatever is going on,
the path of the thread is NOT the same as in the modern crocheted example
on the same page. My Laurel claims she can reproduce the Athens sample in
naalbinding; I haven't seen it yet nor tried it myself, but that still
seems like the most likely candidate for the technique used.

The book is also interesting as an example of just how easy it is to
produce a book that gives the impression of "proving" something without
actually doing so. There are lots of modern close-up photos of crochet,
interspersed with small and faraway pictures of museum pieces done in
other, unrelated lace techniques.  It talks about ancient "looping
techniques" such as sprang and netting, and implies -- though it doesn't
actually *say* -- that crochet is as old as the rest of them. While all the
photos of crocheted samplers (for instance) are clearly dated to the 1800s,
on the same page are reticella patterns from the 1500s. This is confusing,
if not actively misleading.

_A Living Mystery: The International Art & History of Crochet_ by Annie
Louise Potter. 1990, A. J. Publishing International, ISBN 1-8794-0900-3.

O   Chris Laning
|   <claning at>
+    Davis, California

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