Crochet’s middle eastern cousin?



Tunisian crochet. Afghan hook. As not only a crocheter but a linguistics major and arabic learner I was intrigued by these names and decided to learn the history of this fiber art. For starters, Tunisian crochet bears little resemblance to crochet except that it uses a similar albeit different hook. It more closely resembles knitting having a knit stitch and a pearl stitch along with its namesake Tunisian stitch. It even curls up at the edges as is characteristic of knitting.

As for the origins it is unclear where the technique came from but it might have evolved from hooked knitting which originated in North Africa and parts of the middle east including Tunisia and Afghanistan. It uses two long needles with hooked ends. Tunisian crochet itself uses a long hook with either one hooked end or double hooked ends for work in the round.

I did find out for certain the origins of knitting and it is in (drumroll) North Africa and the Middle East. It made its way to Europe and the Far East during the Medieval era. It was spread by sailors who traded with the Islamic centers of that time one of which was southern Spain. As the sailors were men one can deduce that the first knitters were men. It was not only an effective form of textile art but prized because of its capacity for color change leading to intricate designs. Of course over the centuries it became “women’s work” but it’s origins are male so shout out to all those hipster guys who knit. Getting back to its roots!

Happy knitting, crocheting and everything in between!


Needlework Through History: An Encyclopedia by Catherine Amoroso Leslie

Medieval Knitting pdf text from Tournaments Illuminated 165


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