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The first written description about a type of Crochet (pjoining- all slip stitches) is from the 1700's.  

Historians can find records of needlework schools popping up all over Europe and America starting in the early 1800's.  These were ‘finishing schools’ designed to prepare young ladies for life in society, or they were Lace Work schools established in Ireland to help those folks support themselves during the Potato Famine of the 1830's.

Oddly enough, it was these schools in Ireland that provided a crushing blow to Crochet: with the importance of ‘appearances’ that the Victorian Europeans placed on their lives, doing the same needlework that the Irish peasants were doing was considered ‘beneath’ them.  

About this time, Diego de la Branchardiere (Queen Victoria’s personal needlework teacher) had successfully translated tatted lace patterns into crochet, thus making Crocheted Lace quick and easy to produce.  

Since it did not take as much time, Crocheted Lace wasn’t as highly prized as tatting or cut work or netted lace.  Queen Victoria purposefully learned to crochet and began to personally promote crocheted lace to help her Irish peasants to support themselves.

Here in the US, we have letters and correspondence of ladies describing how they would dismantle one piece of crochet, so that the thread could be used in a more current piece.  Thread had to be imported from Europe, so recycling old needlework was the norm for American needleworkers.  

It wasn’t until the mid to late 1800's that the milling and spinning industry in the States took over the world market, and American needleworkers had inexpensive yarns and threads available.

All of these facts have been the support for my theory for many years, and my current limited research validates these ideas:

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Knitting had been around for so long, that it was an integral part of life
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Sailors on ships knitted their own socks and sweaters
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Young ladies learned to knit in the  preparatory and finishing schools
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Peasants (male and female) learned to do all kinds of needlework in schools to have a marketable skill
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Knitting was done by just about everyone

Crochet, on the other hand-
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was used as a means of financial support for peasants and commoners
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Colonial and Pioneer Americans could crochet lace to decorate their clothing and homes, only if they had energy left from their other chores
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Colonial and Pioneer Americans had to recycle old crochet pieces, to make new
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Colonial and Pioneer Americans had to make mostly practical items like blankets, and warm clothing
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This was not a task a noblewoman in Europe would deem worthy of learning
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Consequentially, Queen Victoria had to be promote it as a worthy needleart

From all of these historical facts, we can see how Europeans labeled crochet as something that only common folks should do.  From the forced practicality of the American Colonists and Pioneers, we can see how crochet was branded as a needlework strictly for utilitarian objects, or that it was not worthy of saving the finished pieces, when the needleworker wanted something new to work on.

Even today, the stereotypes of ‘Crochet is for Commoners and Common People’ is still prevalent.  I believe it is these historical elements that have generated the social programming involved with Crochet.  

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We must be practical with our hobby and make utilitarian projects.
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We must be thrifty with our purchases, because this is just a hobby and we shouldn’t spend a lot of money on it.
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We may be passionate about our crochet, but Crochet- as with all passions, makes a better servant than master.  
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Lastly, this needlework is so fast and easy, we can’t afford to ‘treasure’ each and every project we finish.  We are able to produce so many projects that we would be over run with crochet if we tried to keep it all...
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so we must give them away or rip them out and rework the yarn/thread.

I had several folks make this observation, which is something I’ve believed for a long time:
each needlework style is best suited for certain types of projects, but not others.


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Why is Crochet the Underdog of the Needlearts World?
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