Crochet is the French word for hook. Crocheted pieces are worked with a needle like a knitting needle but hooked at one end. In the British Isles in the eighteenth century, crochet work was known as shepherd’s knitting. In the sixteenth century, fine forms of crochet were used as trimming for church vestments and altar cloths. The earliest books of crochet patterns deal with these lacy forms, done with fine thread on fine hooks.
Hook size and the weight of the cotton or yarn used are related and determine the end product. For instance, the rug and the tie that will be featured later this week are worked in the same basic stitch, but sisal rope and a Q hook made the rug, while a size-F hook and four-ply worsted made the tie.
The crochet projects in the upcoming posts are planned so they will introduce the basic crochet stitches progressively. The stitches and the abbreviations used in crochet instructions are explained below. By using only one of these stitches (except chain stitch) exclusively, an even-textured fabric results, as in the the tie, bag, and rug. Combinations of stitches produce open, lacy work, which you will see in the evening dress pattern. A variety of stitches produces intricate patterns, such as the pincushion.
Steel hooks sized 00 to 14 (with this type, higher numbers designate finer hooks) are used with cotton thread, ranging from sewing thread to stringlike weights, to crochet doilies, tablecloths, bedspreads, and the pincushion shown later this week.
Aluminum or plastic hooks are marked from D to K—or 1 to 10 1/2, depending on the manufacturer (here, the higher the designation, the larger the hook). These are used for most of the projects described here and for sweaters, afghans, and hats.
Wood hooks are sized 10 to 16. Giant wood or plastic hooks are designated Q to S.
Crochet hooks, thread, and yarn are sold in variety and department stores and knitting shops. The sisal rope used in the rug is sold in large hardware stores.