So, what’s the difference between knitting and crochet?
Taking it back to absolute basics, knitting uses two long straight pointed needles, whilst crochet uses a single short hook. Although of course, nothing is basic in the world of knitting and crochet.
Encyclopedia Britannica defines knitting as ‘ production of fabric by employing a continuous or set of yarns to form a series of interlocking loops, whereas crochet is “a method of making cloth or clothing by using a needle with a hook at the end to form and weave loops in a thread’
This means knitting uses multiple loops and standard crochet uses one single loop. Crochet is my preference as there is no scope for “dropped stitches’ and the fabric works up much much quicker. Knitting on the other hand can be used to produce much finer, detailed work.
So which came first – Knitting or crochet?
The earliest example of knitting in the V and A museum is from 3rd century egypt and is a pair of socks that were produced by ‘nålbindning’. This is a more time consuming method of knitting, using a knitting needle and a sewing needle. The sewing needle is used to tread the yarn through the loops. Nalbindning was also predominantly used by vikings and there are many more examples of this available.
The first examples of knitting using two needles comes from North African and were produced some time between 1100 and 1300.
Crochet on the other hand seems to be much younger. The crochet guild of america says that although no one can give an exact answer as to the date crochet began, researchers suggest the earliest evidence to be 16th century.
Did crochet really save lives?
Indirectly yes. In 1845 The Irish potato famine began. As the sale of potatoes was the livelihood of the Irish, they were thrown into destitution by this catastrophe. Around this time, lace collars and cuffs and intricate lace work became popular in Europe and Irish families – Men, women and children – began turning their skills to producing crochet. The money from this allowed over four million irish people to escape the famine and emigrate to america by 1900.