HNW - Crochet History

Chris Laning claning at
Wed Aug 16 08:58:05 PDT 2000

>I know we have discussed this subject to death... but what is the earliest
>period of recorded crocheting... or its origins.  I seem to remember seeing
>a show about the excavations in Egypt showing crocheted things.  Did anyone
>else see that show on FOX network.  I recorded it but it was like 3 hours
>long.  I don't want to re-watch the tape right now. Does anyone recall that?
>I thought it may have been in the National Geographic's article about the
>Greco-Roman excavations in Egypt but I checked and it wasn't.

It is my humble opinion that ALL archaeologists should be *required* 
to learn to knit and crochet -- if only so that when they run across 
textiles that are *not* knitted or crocheted, they recognize that 
fact! <g>

Unfortunately, few of them seem to consult textile specialists for 
identification. Sometimes stockinette-like fabrics are identified as 
"knitting" (they may be knitting or nalbinding, you have to know what 
to look for to tell the difference). But anything that *doesn't* look 
like that is often assumed to be crocheting.

Such "crocheted" textiles (all the ones I know of are actually 
nalbinding) often seem to catch media attention when they turn up in 
reports of Egyptian finds, perhaps because "Egyptian" to so many 
people implies "thousands of years old" (which may or may not be the 

Every piece of so-called crocheting that I've seen from before 1800 
has turned out to be something else, including the often-cited Coptic 
piece in Annie Potter's _A Living Mystery: The International Art and 
History of Crochet_. Lis Paludan's _Crochet: History and Technique_ 
is the only source I've seen that seems to have seriously looked at 
pinpointing a starting date, and she seems to think around 1820 is 
the most likely.

A simple chain stitch may have been around earlier, if you consider 
some pieces mentioned by Santina Levey in _Lace: A History_. She 
cites inventories that mention something that sounds a lot like a 
chain-stitched cord, which is then sewn down as an ornamental braid. 
She also illustrates a piece of lace which she suggests might look 
like something from the late 17th century, and which looks like a 
clumsy attempt to imitate bobbin lace using just chain stitch.
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