CROCHETING IS ONE of the easiest and fastest yarn crafts ever; one needs only yarn and a hook--and not always the hook, because fingers can do just as well. Most people can crochet a sweater in half the time it takes to knit one but a crocheted garment rarely looks as refined or elegant as a knitted one.
Crochet is the French word for "little hook" but a form of crocheting was known to the Pima Indians centuries ago, and pulling loops in yarn has been common in the Middle East and Western Europe for many generations. The craft didn't become widely known, however, until it was suggested to Irish women in the mid-19th Century as a means to combat poverty brought on by the potato famine. Irish immigrants to this country brought the craft with them. The Irish are best known for crocheted lace; crocheted afghans, blankets and sweaters are comparatively recent inventions.
There are thousands of patterns for crocheted afghans, but probably the two most popular are granny squares and ripple. The former uses many colors of scrap yarns to form squares, which are then joined, traditionally with black borders. The ripple is a wavy design rendered in crosswise stripes. There are high-tech-design afghans, soft mohair clouds, Arctic wool blankets, fancy stitches--an afghan for every sofa.