My 9-5 job offers stretches of hours where I’m sitting and people watching. During these moments of boredom I have to find a means to keep my hands entertained. My mind goes into overdrive without some form of distraction and my anxiety can peak horrendously. I am currently dealing with mental illness and am trying my absolute best to mitigate it by balancing both pharmaceuticals/counseling and natural/homeopathic remedies. Regarding the downtime at work, I usually have Youtube playing in the background while I crochet baby blankets. I’m a novice when it comes to this craft and barely learned how to use a puff stitch. However, the soothing effect crocheting has on my brain is something my medication has been unable to provide me. Chamomile tea doesn’t even hold a candle to it.
Nobody knows how old the art of crochet really is. The term “crochet” is not referenced before the 16th century, but the art form has been passed on all the way from Italy to China, all the way to South America. The art form itself utilizes a hook and some yarn to pull yarn through intertwined loops. This needlework is used to make everything from scarves to table runners to dog hammocks. Some crochet stiches are even used to mend fishing nets! From my experience, it is grandmothers and mothers who teach crochet to their children. My mother did not teach me and my grandmother tried briefly but I showed little interest. When I finally decided to learn, it was my second mother Lorraine who handed me some resources. Modern crochet continues to be practiced to this day, but instead of knowledge coming from hands-on instruction, many aspiring crocheters utilize step-by-step Youtube videos to learn how to crochet. It is through this method that I continue to learn new stitches, review old stitches, and crochet along with experienced crafters to learn a new pattern.
Over the years, crochet has evolved from making the finest lacework for nobility to the “hobby” it has become today. During the 16th century, folks who crocheted sold their work to elite class members. Nobility collars, jackets, and headpieces were adorned or completely made from crocheted materials. By the Victorian era, however, crochet patterns were becoming increasingly available to middle and low-class folks. By the 1930s, it was mostly women creating supplies of afghans, rugs, cozies and potholders all through the art of crochet. These days, the art of crochet and the supplies needed are readily available to the public to make simple pieces of work. However, the remnants of this art work’s past can easily be experienced by picking up some fine lace thread and a super small crochet hook. Some folks still sell their finest lacework and I gotta admit, their prices are quite deserving. Ever wonder why those custom wedding dresses are so expensive?
Just like in the 16th century, today crochet can still be utilized as a means to get additional income. During times of famine in the 16th centuries, crocheters depended on their craft to put food on the table. Due to the minimal supplies needed to create pieces of lacework, it was easy for laborers to till their fields and crochet between chores. This means that some nobility may have worn lace pieces crocheted, dropped and dusted off from a sheep field, or even in a chicken coop! These days, modern crocheters rent tables at craft shows and farmer’s markets to show off and sell their pieces. Some folks turn to Etsy and Facebook to sell their items online. Much like the artisans from the past, modern crocheters many times do have a 9-5 job and take advantage of their free time to crochet. Regarding the popularity of the products, from the trends I’ve been noting, potholders and dish scrubies seem to be the most popular items to sell in bulk stacks, while baby blankets and winter gear continue to dominate the apparel area. And as I mentioned before, you can get creative and sell dog hammocks. I’m sure a chihuahua owner would love to have their dog snuggled up in their own hammock. It would at least make for a very interesting Instagram post.
For me, crocheting is therapeutic. I don’t sell my work, not because I don’t want to but because I have no one interested, but I enjoy the time I spend creating it. I don’t count stitches, care about yarn quality or practice reading patterns. Maybe someday I will, especially with the artform called “amigurumi” appealing to my inner geek. Either way, from my anxiety I create pretty okay pieces of work that I use in my daily life. That baby blanket I mentioned? It’s the dog’s now.
As always, be kind and tender to one another.
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Featured image provided by Twilight Taggers. All other images provided by Single Stitches, In Pastel and Suzette from Flicker’s Creative Commons.