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The Case for Crochet: Why it is More than a Hobby

I hesitate to place the “hobby” of crochet on a continuum with the many other crochet niches such as teaching, design and production where it would fall at the bottom with crochet art at the top. It is not my intention to discriminate against crochet hobbyists. In fact, hobbyists are indeed the backbone of this craft genre.

For anyone who has even given thought to the illustrious history of crochet in Ireland, the concept of crochet as the tool that contributed to saving a nation from starvation is poignant and memorable story.  Working in unspeakable conditions by candlelight sometimes resulted in the workers losing eyesight! Crocheters developed fine skills which contributed to the production of exquisite crocheted laces sought after by the wealthy classes. Crochet became a business and a successful one at that. People were taught to crochet and urged to teach another in order to save the nation from starvation during the Potato Famine from 1845 to 1851.
Celtic Crochet Design
I am continually reminded of unsung crochet heroes who donate countless hours each week crocheting goods for charity causes. They are depended upon to create the blankets that comfort students as they head off to college, taking those first steps toward independence, with the comfort tucked under their arm that only a little touch of home can bring! Crocheters will also say that their hobby has provided them personal comfort in the form of relaxation after a long day at work or as a distraction while working through some of life’s most critical troubles while the rhythm of their hooks takes them to soothing corners of their minds.

Hobbyists are so important that the craft yarn industry has thrown great effort and grand sums of advertising dollars their way since 1994. Think Vanna White! Granted, crocheters needed a boost to their egos and an education about the vast possibilities of crochet at the time. Many thought they were the “only” crocheters within their realm of existence. How often have you heard, “I just do afghans”? As the participating companies of the Craft Yarn Council  began reaching out through promos, classes and give-aways, crocheters began to come “out of the closet.” An amazing celebration, I Love Yarn Day, sponsored by CYC takes place on October 11, 2013. Join in!

About the same time, the Crochet Guild of America (CGOA) came into existence, and gave crocheters a collective voice. They were able to further their skills through conference classes offered, meet like-minded passionistas, and find inspirations as they shared their skills. The CGOA made a huge contribution by promoting art crochet exhibits from 1994 at the first conference and throughout the succeeding ten years. Crochet as art nudges pre-conceived notions of crochet out of the arena of “grandma’s rocking chair” and into the realm of “almost anything is possible.” This serves to impress even the most seasoned practitioner and inspire them to push their own work to the next level. 
Chunghie Lee exhibited this in the 1994 Juried Exhibit of CGOA
Ellen Moon won the Peoples' Choice award in 1994
A hobbyist may become an artist; an artist may sit down to relax with crochet after a long day in the studio. Much education still needs to be done about crochet art. It flows from the hands and the hook and often the materials guide the artist to the incredible results. No patterns are used or written; crochet art just is. Crochet art is meant to be seen and touched and is meant to move viewers to new streams of thought which in the end is enjoyable!

With the advent of Yarn Bombing in 2005, a much wider awareness of crochet to the general public came to light.  As confidences grew on the part of the “bombers,” more sophisticated works of art appeared. Whether they lasted only overnight in public places or remained until weather destroyed them, they brought an awareness to crochet like never before.
The Art of Crochet & Knit Graffiti by Mandy Moore

Crochet-as- art came blasting into the public eye. Often times quirky and simplistic, the phenomenon served to bring awareness of the craft to the everyday person.
Crochet is art. Crochet is a hobby. Crochet is a means to keep balance in one’s life from the relaxing benefits that come from the rhythm of wrapping yarn around hook. There is no need to categorize crochet except to put it in the “fantastic” file!


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