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"Crochet" is actually a French word that means "hook". To crochet means to create fabric or needlework through the process of interlocking loops with a hooked needle. It is similar to knitting in that loops of yarn are pulled through other loops, but it differs in that only one loop is active during the making of a stitch and one crochet hook instead of two knitting needles is used.
There is a lot of speculation about when the technique of crochet began. Some say that it is an ancient practice in which a crooked finger was used in place of the modern crochet hook to create looped fabrics, but others say there is no evidence of actual crochet needleworks until the 1800s. Donna Kooler, the author of A Dictionary of Crochet, proposes that it was the development of machine spun (and thus less expensive) cotton thread that led to popularization of crochet, especially as a method of producing less costly forms of lace.