Crochet is a textile made from a single thread that is inter-looped by means of a hook. It is looped in such a way that drawing thread through the previous stitch makes a new stitch. There are various forms of handwork – knitting, embroidery and weaving which can be dated far back in time, while one is not quite sure when and where crochet got its start but it is well known that the lace craft is a modern introduction into India and the art of crochet, as we know it today was developed during the 16th century. The word crochet comes from croc or croche, French word for hook, known as crochet lace in France and chain lace in England. The French, Belgians, Italians and Spanish-speaking people call it as crochet where in Holland it is called as haken, haekling in Denmark, hekling in Norway and virkning in Sweden. According to Annie potter who is crochet expert and world traveller it is said that in 1916 Walter Edmund Roth visited descendants of the Guiana Indians and found examples of true crochet. Another researcher of Denmark put forth interesting theories – in China, three-dimensional dolls was known to be worked in crochet, and the earliest evidence came from South America where a simple tribe was evidenced to follow this crochet. The start of crochet has not found its convincing evidence yet in Europe until 1800. As far back as the 1500s in Italy ‘nun’s work’ or ‘nun’s lace’ was practiced for the church textiles. Though the kind of lace making and a kind of lace tape are preserved all indicates that crochet was not known in Italy until 16th century under any name. Various materials have been used earlier like hair, grasses, hemp including cotton and silk yarns. At removal we have hugely wide selection of cotton, wool, silk and synthetic yarns, however unusual materials as copper wire, strips of plastic, and jute can also be crocheted.
The tool that is use to carry on the crochet is a hook, it was earlier made of wood but now aluminum or steel hook is available in more sizes. The hooks were sometimes made of animal bones and horns. At earlier times it was job of men creating this handwork for purposes like hunting, fishing, catching animals and birds. They created strands of knots and strips of woven fiber to hunt. This was also long-drawn-out to include decorations for special days like religious rites, celebrations or funerals. Ornamentation and decorative accessories for arms, ankles and wrists can also be seen. The crochet was considered to be a rich man’s thing and poor could only dream of such things at earlier times. During Victorian times, crochet patterns were available for flowerpot holders, bird cage covers, lamp mats and shades, wastepaper baskets, tablecloths, antimacassars, tobacco pouches, purses, men's caps and waistcoats, even a rug with foot warmers to be placed under the card table. One of the researchers speculates that the cue to keep the same tightness seems to indicate that the same thickness and the person who does crochet to work in correct tightness according to the pattern. Earlier the patterns were simply copied from someone else. Later the samples were made and sewn onto pages and bound like reference books or kept in a box to check upon when needed.
The different stitches of crochet are stitched together in long, narrow bands to keep them as sample stitches and readers could buy small pattern samples along with their yarn. The earliest crochet patterns known to date were printed in the year 1824 and also patterns were purses of gold and silver thread in color works. The crochet books were available as the art of crocheting grew and more books on crochet were also published. The books confined illustrations that were accurate to follow for the reader. One of the growing trends is learning crochet, while the word crochet makes us think of grandma sitting in her rocker knitting, isn’t that case anymore, young people have got the interests in learning crochet and are creating some amazing garments and decorative items. Crochet has also brought a social aspect that was not there earlier. Traders inform artisans about market trends, government and development organizations that have helped them form into cooperatives, while some artisans have also formed Self-help Groups.
The Industrial Handicrafts and handloom cooperative society Ltd (IHHCSL) is one such cooperative in Goa. It was established on August 14, 1980. The society is a non-profit organization helping women earn from home, providing them a livelihood and also retaining Portuguese art of crochet and embroidery alive are the aims of this organization. It whole-heartedly works to retain the art of crochet with the modern designs that are turning up these days.