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Crochet and Society: How Crochet has Contributed

Wednesday, September 4, 2013
Because I am passionate about crochet and because it plays such an important role in my life. I am constantly “thinking crochet.” I want to bring awareness about crochet to everyone in the world. They don’t necessarily need to achieve the level of passion that I have for the craft, but my dream is that our society in general would come to recognize crochet as a valuable art and craft.  I also want to see the entire genre of crochet planted firmly on a continuum with all the other needle arts as a valuable pastime and art, and for the day to come when society stops confusing it with knitting!

I have often joked that I am “covering my world in crochet” and that’s because I think crochet can beautify nature as well as contribute to many aspects of my community. I have been covering rocks for years and I turn them into sculptures or decorative objects.

Claire Zeisler: Fragments & Dashes, Threads magazine, Oct/Nov 1985
My first covered rock (1985); inspired by Claire Zeisler

I also yarn bomb in my community or on my travels to bring awareness of crochet to whomever might see my work and wonder, “Wow, how did that happen?” and “Wow, how interesting!”

Yarn-bombed bench in front of a local yarn store

I can still remember the first thrilling moment in the late 80s when I found my first “crochet sighting”.* Crocheters and Crochet were in the closest then; crochet sightings were far and few between. Along came the 90s, and crochet became a fashion icon. Designers like Dolce & Gabbana presented crochet fashion often. By then I had growing notebooks full of crochet sightings: so many that I kept a notebook for each year! With the establishment of the Crochet Guild of America in 1994, we had a growing group of “crochet lobbyists” who were on the look-out for anything that would validate the worth of crochet. 

There is strength in numbers and our confidence was growing exponentially and we wanted to shout it from the roof tops that crochet is fabulous!  Often, I had crocheters who would send me magazine clippings of crochet sightings they had found! I was so indebted to so many watchful eyes; the validation was important to us and it was great PR for the non-believers! Back in 2008, I went green and scanned a hugs sampling of my crochet-sightings to blog about

Designers and celebrities helped us immensely by wearing crochet and even practicing the craft themselves! It was truly exhilarating to see big-name designers being inspired by crochet lace of the past and turning it into chic and trendy on the runways.

Oscar de la Renta, Vogue, Nov. 2012

Dolce & Gabbana, Marie Claire, Dec. 2012

I knew crochet had arrived and entered into the mainstream of popular culture the day I found an advertisement in a magazine for tampons and the model in the picture was wearing crochet! I concluded that crochet was accepted as an everyday, fashionable way to dress! In this 2013 ad for tampons on my crochet-sightings page, the current trend of yarn-bombing is used. Please feel free to send me any crochet-sightings that you find!

Whether you enjoy McDonald’s restaurants or not, they are an enduring part of our culture. I have just discovered my most thrilling and valued crochet-sighting to date their newest commercial and accompanying campaign, “I’m Loving it” which involves customers in their commercials. Everyone is invited to go online and submit photos or videos within several categories including “share your handmade stuff; share how much you love books; share your chaotic mornings,” etc. 

Carol Hummel: Lichen It at Morton Arboretum, Chicago
Yarn bombing was viewed as artistic and at the same time revived warm and fuzzy childhood memories of grandmothers and aunts creating household staples for family and friends.

No one can refute the fact that crocheters are a generous lot. They spend endless dollars and hours making blankets for all of life’s occasions from birth to death and everything in between!  Yarn manufacturers and trade associations have gotten on board and encouraged the use of our crochet talents for such ends. One very successful event is the annual Caps for Kids sponsored by Merlin Mufflers. The power of the numbers of crocheters is recognized by this company and has led to a successful campaign for their charitable giving year after year. To bring two such divergent entities together as a team tells me about the power of giving from talented and generous crocheters

The Craft yarn Council has been responsible for encouraging crocheters to also donate blankets to various causes with its Warm Up America.  It has evolved to blankets for the Red Cross which puts them to very good uses during national or international disasters. Project Linus is another charity that provides flannel blankets with crocheted edgings to needy children.  Most local hospitals are generously supplied with premie and baby caps from community crocheters.

Through these charities, crochet has been in the spotlight as a wonderful way to contribute to communities in need. Many of those actively involved in the process would no doubt say that they gain more than they give and that doing these charity projects is how they relax from busy and stressful days. 

There have also been numerous instances where crochet has been touted for its healthful benefits. I for one, agree that it is sure cheaper than counseling and is a productive use of time which brings satisfaction thus, health and happiness. In an article I wrote for Crochet! magazine in 2006, "No Offense: Crochet Behind Bars," Colorado businesswoman, Judy Dittmore added crochet and knitting to the offerings sponsored by the Colorado Corrections industries to train the offenders to become self sufficient. "Our instruction is helping them to move forward," Judy says. "It doesn't matter to us what they did in prison."

Two wonderful books which I have reviewed come to mind Crochet Saved My Life by Kathryn Vercillo

 and Contemplative Crochet by Cindy Crandall-Frasier

To summarize, I hope I have conveyed my belief that crochet is a ubiquitous part of our social make up and it touches lives in countless ways.  From birth, every baby deserves the comfort that only the soothing warmth of a handmade blanket can provide; to death, when a prayer shawl offers hope and comfort until the very end. An art exhibit can  provide inspiration that launches new creativity or be just plain fun; relaxing with our current project each evening takes us away from the stress of the day. Learning the skills of crochet can provide incentive that leads to new confidence when applied to survival/life skills. The wide range of crochet techniques and myriad applications serve to provide great benefits not only to the crocheters themselves but also to the lives they touch with their skills and generosity.

*Crochet Sighting: Crochet used in the media to convey a message.


Ann Le Roy said…
I always enjoy reading your blog, I so want to crochet now.

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