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Her research turned up examples of lace-making and a kind of lace tape, many of which have been preserved, but "all indications are that crochet was not known in Italy as far back as the 16th century"- under any name.Research suggests that crochet probably developed most directly from Chinese needlework, a very ancient form of embroidery known in Turkey, India, Persia and North Africa, which reached Europe in the 1700s and was referred to as "tambouring," from the French "tambour" or drum.The tambour hooks were as thin as sewing needles, so the work must have been accomplished with very fine thread.At the end of the 18th century, tambour evolved into what the French called "crochet in the air," when the background fabric was discarded and the stitch worked on its own.She published many pattern books so that millions of women could begin to copy her designs. Riego also claimed to have invented "lace-like" crochet," today called Irish crochet.Irish crochet was a virtual lifesaver for the people of Ireland.They crocheted between farm chores and outdoors to take advantage of sunlight.After dark, they moved indoors to work by the light of a candle, a slow-burning peat fire or an oil lamp.

Families relied on their earnings from crochet, which gave them the chance to save up enough to emigrate and start a new life abroad, taking their crochet skills with them.Irish workers - men as well as women and children - were organized into crochet cooperatives.Schools were formed to teach the skill and teachers were trained and sent all over Ireland, where the workers were soon creating new patterns of their own.Fortunately, the crocheted piece could be washed and its original luster completely recaptured.Ironically, buyers abroad were unaware that their delicate collars and cuffs were made in primitive dwellings under poverty-stricken conditions.

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