A Stitch In Time


Country MoonGrowing up here in southwest Michigan, we had to find creative ways to pass the long winter evenings. It was a given to see my grandmother, my mom, and my aunts doing some kind of needle art every night. It was also a given that my generation would grow up learning the basics of this art form.

"Needle art" is an umbrella term that covers various crafts including crochet, knitting, hand embroidery, tatting, counted cross stitch, and more. Long considered an older generation’s craft, times are changing, and younger folks are discovering the joy and benefits of this art. Besides the normal hats, mittens, scarves, sweaters, and table runners, new patterns are springing up all the time for a bounty of new items.

I learned to crochet at an early age, as it was my mother’s favorite type of needle art. I was given a ball of yarn, a crochet hook, and was taught the basic chain stitch. I was told to practice until all the stitches were uniform. Needless to say, I think my chain could have made it into the Guinness Book of World Records!

Apparently more and more Americans are discovering the attributes of needle arts, because approximately 31.5 million adults participated in needle arts in 2012 — an increase of 2 million people from 2008. Many of these arts are similar, but each has its own characteristics. It is usually a matter of personal and individual taste which to choose.

Crocheting and knitting are sister crafts, as both use yarn or other fiber, both use patterns, and the finished product is basically a series of loops. However, there are distinct differences:

Crochet is a process of creating fabric by interlocking loops of yarn, thread, or strands of other materials using a crochet hook. It dates back to the 18th century, and is a French term meaning “small hook.” The hooks used are made of metal, plastic, and wood. The crochet stitch is made by pulling yarn — or whatever material is being used — through an active loop, and each stitch is completed before proceeding to the next one, just opposite of knitting, where a large number of stitches are open at the same time. Usually yarn, thread, or wool is used to create the fabric. However, rope, grass, wire, dental floss, and even human hair have been used.

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