|Antique Crochet Sampler, |
Are you curious about how old crochet is, when it started, and how it spread throughout the world? If so, you may be disappointed to learn that there is very little reliable information available on these topics. Why? Quite simply, because crochet has not been considered a worthy topic of study for scholars. The history of knitting has fared only slightly better.
|Antique Crochet Sampler,|
A bibliography of crochet studies doesn't exist, beyond actual pattern books published in Western Europe in the 19th century, beginning in the 1840s. You can find some of these, available for free download, at www.antiquepatternlibrary.com. While they are undoubtedly a great resource, they shed light only on crochet from a limited era, and one culture.
Here to rectify the situation, on behalf of both crochet and knitting, is Karen Kendrick-Hands, who is chairing a symposium this November, with the purpose of bringing together both experts and enthusiasts. There will be lectures and panels to explore and brainstorm about the possibility of establishing a museum and research center devoted to knitting and crochet history.
|"New Stitches" from Ladies|
Home Journal, 1906
Kendrick-Hands received a grant from TNNA's Yarn Group to support the symposium, which is also being co-hosted by the Wisconsin Historical Society. I met Karen last week at a conference of the Textile Society of America in Washington D.C. She explained to me the immensity of the task of creating such an institution, and also its urgency. A Knitting and Crochet Heritage Museum will greatly enhance the perception of these needle arts, raising them to the status of legitimate topics of study. Further, it can be an instrument that assists in evaluating the many neglected and mislabeled heirlooms that currently lurk in many American museums.
|Slipped Stitches from|
Tajikistan, date Unknown
Just imagine what it would be like if a website existed with examples of historical crochet not only from Western Europe and the US, but from Turkey, Peru, China, Japan, and all the other places where crochet is done. Imagine as well that each object had been analyzed by experts, and includes a description of the materials used, the techniques and style of the crochet, and its date. Perhaps there could also be papers exploring the relationships between crocheted objects, showing how techniques have been adapted and changed as they move through different regions and cultures. And even more exciting, imagine a physical space, somewhere in the US, housing an awesome a collection of beautiful, historic, crocheted objects of craft and art.
|Italian Motif book,|
Early 20th Century
My favorite fantasy of this kind: a sweet lady comes to Antiques Roadshow with a lovely blanket that's been in her family for generations. The appraiser studies it closely, realized it is crochet, and tells her that due to the fine work and condition of the piece, it's worth, far from the usual $10 or 20 such an object might fetch at a flea market, is ten times that amount!
Think this could never happen? Have you seen appraisals of 18th century embroidery on that program? Often they are evaluated at many thousands of dollars, because embroidery is a highly respected craft with a well documented history. That makes it collectible, which in turn gives it monetary value. It's that simple folks! So, if you care and want to be involved, consider attending the conference, which takes place November 8 - 10, 2012 in Madison Wisconsin. Check out these links for further information.
If you'd like to read more about the history of crochet, here are some links to articles at Crochet insider.
Thanks so much for reading and happy crocheting!
PS. Courtesy of Random.org, the winner of Capitol Knits by Tanis Gray is:
Commenter #15- Debby, who said, "The Lincoln cardi and the Constitution Hall Scarf would be my first choices. The shawls are gorgeous too and I'd probably get to those next. Thanks for the chance to win this wonderful book."
Debby, please shoot me an e-mail with your shipping address and I'll pop the book in the mail to you right away! It's Kristen (at) jimmybeanswool (dot) com.
Thanks so much to everyone who commented!