Tuesday, June 16, 2009

How tough it must have been for those hookers...

The first time I read about the history of crochet was from Debbie Stoller's extraordinary book Stitch n' Bitch Crochet: The Happy Hooker. I usually hate reading historical texts, but the way she wrote it was fun and so engaging. Apparently, crochet became famous in Europe and in the U.S. as a cheap alternative to expensive lace. But because of extremely low wages, crocheters allegedly resorted to prostitution to augment their income. Hence the word hookers.

By the way, I highly recommend the book to everyone interested in learning about crochet. I think it should be the very first book anyone should have. The author discusses everything involved in making crocheted pieces. I love the fact that she came up with the book because crochet instructions vary so much. She did a very good job in explaining all these variations, and adding what she thinks is the best way to go about crocheting. There are also a lot of fun patterns, and short biographies of the pattern authors. I've read other reviews of the book, and they mirror what I have to say and think of the book. One left-handed hooker complained though, that there aren't enough instructions for left-handed people. Which I wouldn't be able to relate to anyway, so I couldn't comment on that.

Anyway, back to hookers. So with all the negative and immoral associations that crochet had back then, it was relegated to the crafty sidelines and branded "EVIL: do not touch." And was only redeemed during the Irish Potato Famine, when Irish nuns taught crochet so that they can import their works and earn some money. Well, the hippies love it a few decades afterward, and made granny squares an everyday staple. And now, crochet is seen on modern and high fashion runways. Although it's not as popular and rooted as its sister knitting, it is slowly making its mark on everyday fashion and house items.

I just found myself wondering this morning, how I would have felt if I lived back then. Forced to do crochet lace every day, into the wee hours of the night (give or take a few "sideline jobs"). I absolutely LOVE crocheting, but if I have to do it to get paid, I think it would change the way I see crafts.

Here's an example: I LOVE writing, being able to express my thoughts and challenging myself to relate better to readers. But if someone took the freedom away from writing, and started paying me for it... It would change a lot of things. Like how I would start hating doing the same thing over and over again every single day. And how I wouldn't have the choice to write about anything I want, in whatever style I want. Or how I have to write like I believe in something I'm totally opposed to. And how I would go homeless and bankrupt if I stop doing it.

I mean, these women spent their lives crocheting. And the only souvenirs they got were poor eyesight, and really sore wrists.

* I got the image from this great collection of pictures. Please do visit the page! i love the one where a little boy is making such a neat... something. I cannot understand any word on the page, but the pictures speak for themselves. Enjoy!

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