News crochet facts

Published on March 31st, 2017 | by Eric


10 things you don’t know about crochet

Crochet has a long and storied history, but even if you’re a crochet connoisseur, there are bound to be some things that you don’t know about our beloved craft! 

1) “Crochet” comes from the French term “tricoter des torchons en laine” which means “making dishcloths from wool.”

2) The first crochet hooks were made from hardened mud, but were soon replaced with carved volcanic rock, which were then replaced by fish bones.

fish bone crochet hooks

3) Fish bones were soon replaced with aluminium.

4) Unicorns are the most commonly crocheted imaginary animal followed by five-legged cats.

5) Famous American actor Wallace Shawn owns a small crochet company based in Utah with branches in the Isle of Skye in Scotland, Oslo, Norway, and Paju, South Korea.

6) Before crochet, people relied on torn rags for their dishcloths.

7) During the War of Saint-Sardos in 14th century Charles of Valois wore a crocheted helmet cover as he invaded Aquitaine, a decision seen by some historians as an indirect cause of the Hundred Years’ War.

8) Edson Arantes do Nascimento, better known as Pelé, was so poor growing up that he had to crochet his own football (soccer) uniform. He used a 4mm hook.

pele crochet


9) Crochet has come in 2nd place four times as the world’s most-loved hobby, losing to: bonsai, scrapbooking, butterfly chasing, and swimming with sharks.

swimming with sharks

10) The oldest known piece of crochet was found in an archaeological site on Stoltenhoff Island. Carbon dating estimates that it was made around 1242 AD and used the fur of an extinct weasel.

Do you have facts about crochet that we forgot? Leave them in the comments!

About the Author

is a photographer, copywriter, rock climber, skier, traveler, and aspiring knitter. His work has been been published in many international newspapers, magazines, websites, books and even a billboard in Brooklyn.

33 Responses to 10 things you don’t know about crochet

  1. Maggie S. says:

    If I don’t crochet for a day, it doesn’t feel right.

    The first published crochet pattern appeared in 1824 in a Dutch magazine called “Penelope”

    The granny square originally published in 1897 by the Weldon Company (London) is one of the longest crochet patterns in print.

    Queen Victoria of England (1837-1901) crocheted and contributed to the craft’s early popularity.

    A double crochet stitch is 4 times the height of a knit stitch.

    Crochet uses 1/3 more yarn than knitting.

    Crochet lace saved many families during the Great Irish Famine (1845-1849) by providing a steady income for impoverished Irish workers who sold their handiwork to rich English Aristocrats.

    • Delisa says:

      My grandmother taught me how to crochet when I was 8. She wanted to watch her soap operas and crocheting kept me quiet and still, so she could. I have been crocheting for 57 years. Like you, Maggie S., I crochet every night and if I miss a night, I feel like something is wrong or off. It’s the only thing I do well. I made both my children’s Christening Gowns, Caps, Booties & Blankets & I still have them. It’s how I calm myself. It helps me work thru anger, sadness, disappointment anxiety and fear. Something beautiful always comes out of these feelings. I have a whole room full of crocheted blankets, throws, baby blankets & shawls. I thank my grandmother after every project I complete for forcing me to learn this rare art.

  2. Shirley Say says:

    I love to crochet, the very first thing I ever did, while my friends were doing dressing table sets, was a peach coloured mini dress. I obviously had to go and buy a full length slip. Sadly no photos or the dress survived the 60’s
    I still find some difficulty in following a pattern though 🙄

  3. “Crochet” actually just means “hook” in French… (from a French native speaker!)

    • Gail McKeon says:

      that is why velcro is named velcro. It was a French invention and the vel is for velvet and cro is for crochet or hooks which if you look at it very closely it a true description as the soft side is like velvet and the rough side is full of a huge amount of tiny hooks, I am not a Frend native speaker but I realized this after crocheting for years, So now I am multilingual. LOL.

  4. Sorry, didn’t see it was April Fool’s Day…!

  5. Nat Ford says:

    Happy April Fool’s Day!

  6. Theresa says:

    Got me! I was believing these outlandish claims, though 6 seems feasible. Are any true? Thanks!

  7. Kymm says:

    Since learning to crochet in January I haven’t been able to stop. If I’m not working on a new project, I’m going through my unfinished ones to have something to crochet. A day without crochet is like a day without sunshine!

  8. Misty says:

    I taught myself to crochet a few years ago because I wanted to make my friend Jen a hat and scarf to help keep her warm while she was undergoing chemo for Stage 5 Cervical Cancer. It was one of the things she loved the most – unfortunately she passed away from her cancer December 15, 2016 at age 39. Since then, I find it very relaxing and have made sets for cancer benefits and work with a local group that makes Afghans for Soldiers. Right now I am working on a popcorn ripple afghan for a friend for her wedding in July – it is a challenging pattern but I want to make sure its done perfectly.

  9. Margaret says:

    My mother was a keen crocheter, I still have some of her work. She loved making doiley’s and handkerchief edgings and tatting. I was always a knitter and have done heaps in my time. She tried teaching me but it seemed too tedious. My best efforts were one granny square throw in lemon, grey and green, I even managed a zip up jacket in DK but that was the extent of it. Last year I decided to make my d-in-law a rug for a housewarming pressie in DK kingfisher blue hexagons joined with a fawn yarn. Then two cushions in varied colours, DK puff flowers with reverse sides in c2c. Now I’m so hooked on crochet I’m doing a DK puff flower throw in blues for my g/daughter. I’m 81 next May and regret all those past years without it.

  10. Mary Harvey says:

    love to crochet. Been doing it for more than 40 years.Now, I have been making blankets for Project Linus. They give blankets to children in the hospitals. I really believe to crochet a day is a day of happiness.This may sound weird, but when I die, I want a skein of yarn and a J hook in the casket..(ha ha)

  11. Jean says:

    Back in the late thirties and early forties, my mother saved the string which was used to tie-up purchases. Most purchases were wrapped in brown paper (paper bags were unknown) and tied with string in those days. She could not afford to “buy” crochet thread or yarn, so all of our mittens, slippers, hats, dish cloths etc., were made of crocheted string. I also learned to crochet using this string. I think my mother regretted teaching me to crochet, because I used up her string ball so rapidly!!

  12. Lisa Clanton says:

    Very interesting! I’m a newbie to crochet and love it. For #9 I can claim two of those hobbies. Crochet and diving with sharks. When I go on a dive trip I can pack my crochet for when I’m not underwater.

  13. Margarita says:

    I learned to crochet about 6 months ago. I actually wanted to learn hour before my 1st daughter was born but never got around to it. I love it so much, it’s relaxing to me. If I’m having a hard day I just pick up my latest project and just go, it clears my head. My husband says I’m obsessed which is true haha. The first things I made was a simple little 5 petal flower for my sister, then I made beanies. I’m still having trouble reading a pattern but I’ll get it eventually. Crocheting is the only hobby that I’ve stuck with. Eventually I’d like to sell my things.

  14. Judith says:

    My grandmothers were both crocheters as was my mother and sister. My sister taught me how to crochet back in the 1970s and I’ve loved it ever since. When I crochet I forget all my troubles. It is better than expensive therapy.

  15. I love to crochet also. When someone asks me if I knit, I just say “I’m a hooker, sorry”. You should see the looks I get.

    • Dan Thompson says:

      That’s a GREAT response! I may use that. I’m a man who loves to crochet. I started in 2003. When I began to learn, YouTube was not quite up and running, and I could not teach myself from the illustrations in books. I also couldn’t find any crochet teachers. I almost gave up, but then found a video (VHS) that taught me everything I needed to know and then I was good to go! I still crochet daily, and everything I make is donated to charity and the prayer shawl ministry at my church. It’s a wonderful and relaxing hobby.

  16. Janice says:

    My mother wasn’t a crafter. Luckily my Aunts on both sides of the family were. I have done it for 50 yrs now. Loving every moment.

  17. Barbara says:

    Underwater basket weaving became popular due to the need to hold yarn for underwater crocheting.

    Marie Antoinette is credited with the stabilization of the French yarn industry when she famously stated, “Let them make cakes!”

    When crocheting those cute Pokemon amigurumi, one must wrap all skeins into balls in order to crochet them all.

  18. Gail McKeon says:

    i am 71 yo. my great grandmother and grandmother and mother all worked to teach me to crochet when i was about 7 yo. Back then there was only one yarn. Wool. It was scratchy but it was colorful. I never remember things my fore mothers did make except for my graduation from high school in 1963 they presented me with a granny square afghan all of us had made squares for and my grandmother put together and embroidered down one side of the trim with my name and the date. I had to preserve it in a cedar chest to keep it moth free but over fifty four years later and over sixty years since it was made I still have that afghan. I have crochetted probably thousands of items since those days and the thing is I am a lefty but learned because i sat facing my grandmother and did her stitches but mirrored her hands then years later as i was in Vietnam as an Army nurse I found out I was pregnant so I sent for yarn and needles and a book and taught myself to knit and made a baby sweater for my son who is now 48. I have that in my cedar chest though by then synthetics were used for yarn. I also have the book I used to learn among my many knitting and crochetting books and patterns. I also quilt, and do other hand crafts but my crochetting and knitting bag goes everywhere with me and I have usually at least four projects going at a time. It for me is like meditation and calms me.

  19. Angela says:

    I always wanted to learn to crochet. My mother & her mother both crocheted but never taught me how. In 2000, when I went to prison, a lady there taught me how & I caught on really quickly. I stopped crocheting when I got out of prison & didn’t pick it up again until 2014 when I started making a granny square afghan. I still haven’t finished it. I work on it a little bit here & there, but it just doesn’t seem like I have much time for crocheting like I wish I had. I have an aunt that said she could never learn to crochet, but did learn to knit & I used to have a beautiful afghan from her. I do have one of the afghans that my mother made for my grandmother a long long time ago. My grandmother had made me a couple granny square afghans when I was younger, but I don’t know where they are now unfortunately. If I had more time to crochet I would & I have an obsession with yarn, I love to collect it. Also, I love to quilt, but just do not have the time to do it. I work a lot & am very busy. I do plan on teaching my granddaughters how to crochet this summer.

  20. Dawn says:

    My grandmother taught me to crochet when I was 8 , she taught me the basic stitches and always finished off a project for me so I never really finished anything on my own . She’s since passed I crocheted here and there and about 3 years ago I picked it back up , and I haven’t put it down since , I can crochet basically anything , with the help of YouTube
    And I can also read patterns now . Crochet is my addiction, I love it , can’t live without it . I crochet every night ! It a wonderful gratifying hobby !

  21. Barb V says:

    I have a habit of nibbling my nails when watching television. Fortunately I love to crochet so I have lovely long nails. Can’t crochet and nibble at the same time.

  22. Rachelle says:

    Give me a piece of graph paper and I can do just about any thing with a grannie square. I used the grannie zoo book and took the turtle enlarged and then used a sea foam variegated yarn on the bottom half and then a brown variegated on the top half to make a king size afghan of a sea turtle coming out of the ocean on to the sand. I have made baby blankets with teddy bears using grannie squares. So you can do any thing with a grannie square. I just love them.

  23. Leslee Sharp says:

    Hi crocheters! The way I learned to crochet must be totally unique! I was born in South Africa, and my mother wasn’t crafty, so it wasn’t until I was 24, in hospital after a car crash, that a night nurse taught me the basics. I had a fractured pelvis and was stuck there for several weeks, flat on my back, no pillows, my leg in traction, staring at the ceiling. The nurse was an Afrikaans speaker and had no English. (Afrikaans is a derivative of Dutch and is the second official language in South Africa.) In those long quiet nights she taught me using the Afrikaans terminology. For eg, single crochet = kort bene (short legs), double crochet = lang bene (long legs) chain stitch = ketting steek (chain stitch) and so on. I lay flat on my back and held my work up in the air so my arms got a bit tired! When I got out of hospital, (on crutches for six weeks) I bought a crochet pattern for a simple granny square afghan and started to crochet, working out which stitches were which as I went. All went well, but it was a bit tedious, so I bought another pattern book and dived into making a lacy baby jacket. Only trouble was, nothing seemed to work out right… After a lot of frustration I asked a crafty friend to help explain the pattern. It was only then that I learnt that American terminology is DIFFERENT to English: single crochet is called double crochet in the USA, while double crochet is called treble! There is no single crochet in the US. All the stitches are a step up – no wonder my baby jacket was so misshapen! I had unwittingly bought an English pattern for the afghan, followed by the baby one from the USA. So now I had a THIRD lot of terminology to learn! I am happy to say that I can now crochet in three languages, Afrikaans, English and American, and it is just as enjoyable in every one! PS. I am 72, have lived in Australia for 40 years, and I still have to alter all the stitches in US pattern instructions before I start. (Downloaded from the internet.) Has anyone else been caught out by the differences in stitch names between countries? Happy hooking, everyone!

  24. Jaxie says:

    Why do Kangaroo’s have short arms ?
    So that they can Crochet…. Lol…

  25. Yvonne Gellineau says:

    I taught myself to crochet almost 50 years ago. I still get a thrill every time I make something. I also taught myself to knit and made my mother a knitted jacket that my daughter how wears. I have two bookcases filled with yarn and numerous boxes. It is my drug of choice.

  26. Debbie says:

    I am happy to have learned to crochet at 11 years old – my mom was quite the crochet whiz but said she lacked the patience to teach me. The girls my age were taught at church. But once I learned the basics, my mom was able to help me get the complicated stitches. I would love to see your christening dresses – can you post them? I made my middle daughter’s dress from a 1920’s crochet pattern and made a different one for my granddaughter 2 years ago…..all in thread, of course! I crochet in airports or anywhere else I might be waiting – sometimes even in traffic (not while moving, of course). My daughter-in-law was thrilled to get a crocheted egg-collecting apron from me (the yarn cushions and separates the eggs; very practical).

  27. Patsy says:

    I learned how to crochet by sitting at my mother’s feet watching her edge handkerchiefs and crochet table doilies out of the tiny cotton threads. I would sit there until my eyes burned until one day I got the nerve up to pickup one of those tiny steel needles. I tried and tried to get the stiches right and then asked my mother if it was correct. When she said yes, I was hooked! I learned to read the patterns and now I can make just about anything with or without a pattern and any size needed! I don’t have to look at what I’m doing most of the time – except to count the rows. She also taught me to sew on her Pfaff sewing machine when I was 8 or 9. I’m 62 now and love to craft. She passed last year. I have that same sewing machine to this day and all of her crafting supplies! I wouldn’t trade anything for those hours sitting at her feet!

  28. Karen Hauck says:

    I learned how from my mother and grandmother when I was about 7 or 8. I am 78 and still crochet. I made 13 afgans one year for Christmas and Christmas of 2016 I made 30 for gifts@ I crochet everyday, riding in the car, at the doctors, in my chair watching TV !!! Everywhere and all the time. It is very relaxing and great therapy !! I love crocheting!!@ 🤗

  29. Diane says:

    Gosh, I wish I could crochet like some people such beautiful stuff out there, I try but I am not very good at it, but I will keep persevering..i have a black scarf I need to now start for my son, hope it comes out right 🙂

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