The handicrafts of Goa occupy a special place in our country, however the crochet items in particular, make up the heart and soul of these handicrafts. These intricate and durable items with geometric designs can be found hanging like rainbows in flea markets, through the windows, glistening in the sun. The crochet handicraft captures the eye of all types of tourists- international and local Perennial. These crafts can be seen as a mirror of Goa’s perineal beauty and they have won critical acclaim of the connoisseurs of the art world.
QWhat does the word crochet mean?
The word crochet comes from the French word meaning to “hook”
QWhere did crochet originate from?
the earliest form of the craft has been traced to Arabia. In India, it was popularized by Portuguese missionaries who came to Goa and Panjim in particular is particularly famous for its crochet culture. . However, like any other art form, crochet too has travelled far and wide and been adapted and adopted by several cultures across the world.
QHow do we begin to crochet? OR Which are the easiest designs to crochet?
Beginners are advised to try start their crochet journey with the chain stitch. It is the simplest and the basis for most crochet designs.
QIs there a difference between knitting and crocheting?
While both are yarn crafts that require hand eye co-ordination and concentration, the main difference is that crochet uses a single hook to hold the stitches together while in knitting two hooks are used. Knitting involves transfer of stitches from one hook to another, which is not the case with crochet, and has generally more drape.
QIs crochet a woman’s craft?
Traditionally, the craft has been undertaken by women and has been known popularly known as the mother-daughter craft. However, crochet does not discriminate. Men have been known to take up the craft, especially, as there are proven mental benefits to taking up such crafts as it improves concentration.
QWhat are the most famous crochet designs?
As a craft, crochet is evolving and therefore so are the designs! However, generally found crochet designs are Tunisian and Irish. And in India, the mandala motif is also quite popular.
Earlier it was used to make flowerpot holders, bird cage covers, lamp mats and shades, wastepaper baskets, tablecloths, tobacco pouches, purses, men’s caps and waistcoats and the rugs placed under the tables.
With time and experimentation, crochet has weaved its magic across all domains resulting in myriad patterns, designs and items.
The Panjim crochet is used to make a wide variety of pieces- all the way from garments to bed and bath. The use of crochet also ranges from the most basic utilitarian to haute couture.
The home décor products include pillow covers, coasters, table cloths, mats, door hangings, bed covers, altar cloths and much more.
In terms of garments, we can find crochet scarves, dupattas, skirts, shrugs, dresses, tops, stoles and many more.
Special items such as crochet tote bags, book marks as well as torans with fruits and flower motifs, have also entered the market. An interesting addition to the crochet family is “amigurumi” or 3 D crochet toys hugely popular among children. The Amigurumi is a combination of Japanese words ‘ami’ for crochet and ‘nuigurumi’ meaning stuffed doll or toy.
Therefore, Panjim crochet items can find their usage in every aspect of any household and further add a traditional touch to your modern life.
Their delicate appearance and durable nature make them a must-have in every state of the country!
Crochet as a craft is extremely popular- not just in Panjim but all over the world. What makes this handicraft significant is the scale at which it has been found and designed all over the world.
In India, the Panjim crochet is the most acclaimed and appreciated.
Another factor that adds to the significance of these crafts is their wide adaptability and usage. Crochet handiwork can be used to make different items ranging from garments to items for bed and bath.
The different yarns and techniques used for making crochet pieces make this handicraft one of the most unique and delicate looking handicrafts found.
Moreover, the Panjim crochet only requires a few raw materials and can be learnt sitting at home as well! Many individuals believe that crochet displays versatile techniques whose applications can be found from the most basic utilitarian items to haute culture.
Over the past few centuries, crochet is known to have cycled in and out of fashion, however, professional designers believe that it contains the enormous capacity for creative experimentation and regeneration.
Therefore, the geometric designs handwoven in rainbow colored threads and stitched together in varying patterns shows us how timeless and striking a simple woven thread can be, making crochet one of the most significant handicrafts in our country.
Crochet is not merely a craft- it is a connection between generations. Due to its emotional and cultural significance- it is also known as mother-daughter craft. However, this does not mean, that men are not avid crochet enthusiasts!! Crafts like crochet that require concentration and dedication have been proven to be immensely popular with sports persons like Tom Daley the gold medalist British diver and knitting enthusiast encouraging his fans to take up the craft. He even has a separate Instagram account Made with Love by Tom Daley. Further, Finland’s Olympic snowboarding team has also been passionate about crochet and knitting. Therefore, one can say that crochet does not discriminate based on gender.Organizations such as the UNESCO speak of the need to conserve the knowledge and traditions of crafts through advocating for their visibility in the mainstream media. One important aspect of this knowledge sharing is that most of the craft including crochet, have been passed on to future generations through oral traditions. Perhaps one another way is to build allies across gender and nations and in that endeavor, who can be better advocates than Olympic gold medalists!!
Some of the traditional designs used by the artisan, are not even published anywhere and are often passed down from generation to generation.
One must not be deceived by this seemingly simple craft. There is a tale to be told on how crochet have turned adventurous. Yarn bombing or guerilla knitting or yarn storming is a popular activity among fibre enthusiasts. This activity involves turning seemingly innocuous spaces – mostly public spaces- bright and colorful. This is part activism part educational and has been widely popular among artists to make political statements. Traditionally, June 11 is celebrated as International Yarn Bombing Day. These yarns have travelled far and wide and covered public water taps to military tank in Dresden Germany.
Myths & Legends:
The history of the crochet also emphasizes on its traditional value.
It is believed that the brides used to display their skills to the groom’s family by designing beautiful crochet items on the basis of which they selected their bride.
The familial value of this craft can also be understood by looking at how it has been passed on from one generation to the next and is known as the “mother-daughter craft.”
Like the fiber, the stories associated with the practice of crochet, are also intriguing. For example, it was believed that prospective brides would often compete by displaying their
skills and dexterity by designing beautiful and complex crochet items to impress bridegroom and his family.
The history of Crochet varies all around the world.
It’s earliest origins in the world are known to have come from Arabia.
It then spread to Tibet, Spain, and then finally along the trade routes of Arabia and the Mediterranean.
In the 1500s, it was also produced by the nuns, to make the textiles for church. It was known as ‘nun’s work’ or ‘nun’s lace’.
However, there are others who believe it originated from a South American tribe and others who see it as coming out of Chinese needlework and then spreading to Europe in the 1700s.
Though the earliest crochet patterns were found printed in the 19th century in a book.
It is said that Crochet was initially started as a less-expensive alternate to lace.
Earlier the hooks used in the crochet were made of bones and horns of animals as well as of wood.
Men used to crochet initially, which is now completely taken over by the women. Initially this was used in things like hunting, fishing, catching animals and birds.
The period between the 1920s and 30s saw the emergence of new forms of crochet and it soon began to become a major part of the fashion industry.
From being a male dominant craft, it became a female oriented craft, as they used to do it when sitting at home.
By the end of the 1970s, crochet home-ware also started to emerge.
The materials like animal hairs, grasses, hemp, cotton and silk yarns were used earlier. Though the latter two still remain prominent the others are replaced by wool and synthetic yarns, jute, copper wire, strips of plastic and much more.
For Goa in particular, crochet was brought in by the Portuguese missionaries and nunsin around the 15th
Since then it has been passed on from one generation to another.
It initially started off as a craft for the upper class, rich and affluent Christian households.
However, it gradually progressed into becoming a craft for the local women who then practiced it to earn money.
Some women even began carrying it forward to make it a profession by taking large orders and establishing their own shops.
Today, crochet has become an important part of the culture of Goa and is practiced by women from all age groups as a profession to earn a livelihood.
There are more than 100 types of crochet stitches. There are different stitches used for making the crochet designs, some of these are as follows-
Chain Stitch– This is the basis for all crochet designs since every crochet patterns starts with this stitch. The first row consists of the foundation chain and each subsequent chain is required to be made in the same size as before.
Foundation ring– This is used for making motifs. In this, the artisan begins from the center and continues in a ring.
Single crochet stitch– This is one of the most basic stitches since it is short and compact.
Slip stitch– This has many uses, such as- making a thicker chain or edging, joining rounds, moving one or more stitches over, and for ending your work smoothly.
Double crochet stitch– This is taller and it creates work that is more open and lace-like as compared to a single crochet stitch.
Half double crochet- This is used for making a firm textured fabric.
Treble crochet– This can be seen as the continuation of the double crochet stitch.
The technique and yarn used for the crochet depends entirely on the item that is to be produced.
Shell stitch– A pattern is created using five to six double crochet stitches into the same stitch, they fan-out and appear to be of different heights at the edges, just like a shell. The fantail stitch is a variation of it, also used in Goa.
Crochets also come in various types, based on the regions they originated from or the techniques used. Some of them are,
Tunisian crochet- Along with crochet, some knitting techniques are also used in making it. The hook used here is elongated and is called the Afghan hook. Thus this technique is also called Afghan crochet. The material created here is less elastic and also thicker compared to the traditional crochet. So, this is mainly suitable for products related to winters like blankets, hand gloves and caps and not suitable for finer things like baby clothes or socks.
Irish crochet- It was developed around the 19th century in Ireland, during the famine, as an alternative to lace, imitating the techniques used in it. It is nowadays made using mercerised threads and fine crochet needles.
Filet crochet- Only two crochet stitches, the chain stitch and the double crochet stitch are used in creating it. A graph or an emblem diagram is used as a base and the final outcome looks like a square grid. Patterns are created by combining solid and open meshes, where sometimes the background is an open mesh and the motifs are solid.
Broomstick crochet- A historic crochet technique, used since the 19th century, it is also known as the peacock eye crochet. It gets its name from the fact that traditionally a handle was used, resembling a broom stick. It is now replaced by a light-weight plastic needle or a smooth wooden craft dowel pin. The material created using this is soft and stable, and is used making blankets, scarves and shawls.
Hairpin crochet- In the Victorian Era it was traditionally practiced on woman’s hairpins, thus the name. Different frame and loops are used in it compared to the other crochet methods. Mainly it was used for the trims, collars or the edges of a shawl.
A wide variety of motifs can also be seen in the crochets, like,
Granny motif- One of the most used and traditionally handmade motif in the craft of crochet. It also resembles coarse lace. Mainly squares are made using it, though the artisans have experimented and used this basic technique to create shapes like circles, pentagons, triangles, hexagons and various others, as per the needs of the design. Products like clothing, purses, blankets and other household textiles can be made using it. This is also a great way to use he left over yarn to create a lot of these and then join them to create a product.
Pineapple motif- It is a very ancient motif, found in the crochet books of the Portuguese culture of 19th Thus it signifies he craft’s connection with that culture. Earlier done with cotton thread, it is now created using various types of yarns and is a very remarkably used motif. Crocheted table cloths, shawls and skirts have patterns with various variations of this motif. They are mainly used as bold embellishments.
Rose and leaf motifs- These are a part of the Irish crochet, as the Irish women used to sell these crocheted motifs. They used thin cotton/silk yarn and made it as a substitute of lace. Many variations of this traditional motifs can be seen on jewelry, handbags, separate attachments, household products etc.
Mandala motif- It is one of the most common crochet pattern used, as it has a spiritual significance in both Hinduism and Christianity. It is circular and can either have a single coloured simplistic design or multiple colours with various stitches. The idea behind them is that of infinity and the never ending nature of how big a circle can get.
Mainly crochet is done in a single colour, though when it is used in Indian context, like for making torans, a variety of bright colours are used in just one product.
Just like other handicrafts, despite all its glory, crochet handicraft also faces certain challenges. These are-
First, economic challenges. Crochet making is a labor-intensive craft, however, the women are often not paid adequately. On an average it takes half a day to make a crochet of the size 3.5 inches by 3.5 inches and for it they only get around 50 rupees.
Moreover, the increasing cost of raw materials and dwindling sales creates challenges for the artisans. As, creating crochet in turn reduces the profit margin.
Over the years, one of the major reasons given for its decline is that is not ‘value for money.’
Lack of awareness. The consumer market, in general, portrays a lack of awareness behind the effort, progress and significance of this craft.
Various customers are ready to buy the same product if given from a brand but are not willing to pay the same price when bought from a local market.
This is particularly demotivating for the artisans and we need to be supportive of their work and efforts.
Social problem– as the economics of handicraft production does not support the women adequately, many people believe that this is the last generation of women practicing crochet work in Goa.
Moreover, due to a lack of interest from the consumers and initiative from the government, the next generation of women are not willing to continue with this profession or learn the skill of crochet making.
There are also a few health concerns that the artisan might face overtime. One of them being spondylitis, as they sit whole day in a non-ergonomic position.
Also the artisan prefers working with light colours like white and beige, as dark colours like black and red would strain their eyes.
Despite being emblematic of Indian textile heritage, today the crochet art and the artisans face huge difficulty in continuing this social practice. One way that the artisans are unable to continue this cultural heritage is due to the lack of their representation on national and international forums. Therefore, it is upon us, as conscious consumers and fabric enthusiasts, we can do our part in learning and practicing this art.
Through the process of crocheting, fabric is created by interlocking loops of strips of any material, like cotton, wool or even plastic, using a crochet hook. Although it is similar to knitting, here geometrical and floral motifs are mostly preferred. Mostly it is completely handmade and the artisans source their materials from the local stores.
The only raw material required for this beautiful handicraft is the crochet yarn.
Over the years, different materials have been used for making these crochet pieces- all the way from hair, grasses, reeds, animal fur, hemp, flax, wool, gold to cotton, silk, wool and synthetic yarns in the present.
These crochet yarns come in a multitude of colours, shapes and sizes to suit the different needs of the artisans and consumers.
Even today, one can find different types of yarn and different yarn fibres which result in a different look for the crochet product.
These yarn patterns fall mainly into 4 categories- Natural– This consists of yarn made out of plant sources such as linen, bamboo and cotton.
2. Animal– This consists of yarn made out of animal sources such as cashmere, alpaca, silk.
3. Synthetic– This consists of yarn made out of synthetic sources such as nylon, polyester and acrylic.
4. Blend- This consists of yarn made out of a combination of natural and synthetic fibres to provide a softer feel.
The textures of the yarns are also significantly different from one another. For example, plied yarns features several strands twisted together. This is also known to be the traditional yarn used for crochet handicrafts.
On the other hand, we have boucle yarn which is a highly bumpy and textured yarn and features a combination of threads and loops.
Another type of yarn is the Chenille yarn which can be difficult to work with, however, it has an extremely soft, round and velvety texture.
The Eyelash yarn is most commonly used for scarves and then have the ribbon yarn which is made out of rayon or a rayon blend.
Some crochet pieces could also feature a combination yarn which is composed of two or more yarns having same or different fibres/twists.
Crocheting is also a great way to reduce waste, as things like plastic bags are used in making crochet bags and other products.
Tools & Tech:
The crochet hook:
Though quite a few tools are required for making the crochet pieces, the most important tool out of them is the crochet hook.
This hook is used for the purpose of making loops in a yarn and then interlocking them into crotchet stitches.
The hook can be seen as a round shaft pointed on one end and with a lateral groove behind it. This point makes it easy for inserting the crochet material into the hook and the groove makes it possible to pull the loop back through the material.
The tip and throat of the hook are used to make the stitch and the diameter of the shaft section determines the hook size and the grip and handle are used for holding the hook.
They come in various sizes and materials. Some of them are,
The cro-hook- A type of the crochet hook, which is a double ended crochet hook. This permits the artisan to work stitches from either end and also use two thread colours simultaneously.
The yarn hook- This is specifically made to crochet yarn. It is made of various materials like Aluminium, bamboo and plastic crochet hooks. They range from 2.5 mm to 19 mm.
The steel hook– Used to crochet threads and for fine crochet work. They range from 0.4 mm to 3.5 mm.
The common size of needles used in Goa, ranges from 00 to 14.
Some of these hooks also have ergonomically shaped handles and comfort grips.
Scissors: This is used to cut threads.
Measuring Tape: This is used to measure the length of crocheted work.
Large-eye needle: This is used to sew or knot crocheted work.
The process for making the crotchet pieces is as follows-
1. Gathering the needed materials-
This steps includes gathering all the raw materials and tools required to undertake the crochet making process.
2. Holding the crochet hook-
This step includes the crochet hook has to be held in the dominant hand. A slipknot has to be created and placed over the end of the hook.
3. Creating stitches:
The slipknot loop is placed on the hook from a single thread and is inter-looped by means of a hook in such a way that a new stitch is made by drawing thread through the previous stitch, and repeating this process to create a chain of suitable length. The chain is either turned and worked in rows or joined to the beginning of the row with a slipstitch and worked in rounds. Pulling one or more loops through each loop of the chain makes stitches. At any one time at the end of a stitch, there is only one loop left on the hook. The threads used for crochet are cotton, white, pale and bright colours. Thicker the yarn, larger the diameter of the crochet hooks. Thicker yarns generally require fewer stitches and therefore, less time to work upon a given design. It gives a bold look comparative to thinner yarns. Thinner yarns are used for delicate pattern works and consume more time to complete a pattern work. The size of the hook is chosen according to the pattern work. The hooks are of steel these days. Steel crochet hooks range in size from 0.4 to 3.5 millimeters. These hooks are used for fine crochet work such as doilies. At any one time at the end of a stitch, there is only one loop left on the hook. There are most noted stitches that are crocheted as well.
Goa is a tiny state on the south western coast of India and finds itself to be the home of various handicrafts. These handicrafts not only serve as tourist attractions but also contribute significantly to the industry of Goa and support the talent of the local artisans. The culture, food, festivities here presents a unique blend of Portuguese and Indian elements and the people are as warm as the sun and as loving as the gentle waves on the coast.
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Goa gets its name from the Konkan word ‘Goyan’ which means a patch of tall grass.
In Mahabharata it is also referred as the nation of cowherds.
The actual history of Goa can be traced back to 1312 wherein it was under the Muslim regime till 1370.
During this time the Islamic culture was introduced in this region and various mosques were built. The biggest one being in Ponda, which is relevant even today.
After that period, Goa fell into the hands of Harihara and eventually into the hands of the Portuguese in 1510.
The Portuguese initially took over this region to control the spice route from East.
However, gradually, the Portuguese began a religious conquest in Goa wherein they began converting Hindus into Christians.
One of the main strategies used by them at that point in time was to promote the marriage of soldiers to local women in order to ensure Christian children.
Around 1550, the Portuguese installed a printing press in this region, as they believed in record keeping and Goa became the first place in India to have it.
The Marathas tried to take over Goa in the 18th century, however, they failed and Goa continued to be under the reign of the Portuguese.
However, in 1961, Panjim alongside rest of Goa and other Portuguese territories were annexed by India through invasion of the ‘Portuguese India.’
Finally, in the December of 1961, the Indian army defeated the Portuguese.
Also a music revolution happened in Goa when hippies came and settled there around the 1960s.
Goa was declared as the 25th state of India in 1987.
5 years later, Konkani was declared as the official regional language.
In the present day, Goa can be seen as an emblem of harmonious co-existence of diverse religions and follows the spirit of ‘Sarva Dharma Sarva bhava.’
Many small clusters practicing the craft of crocheting can be found in North as well as South Goa. Especially in and around the Mapusa market. Most of the raw materials are also ordered from this place.
Panjim is located at 15°29′56″N 73°49′40″E with an average elevation of 23 metres.
It is headquartered in the North of Goa on the banks of river Mandovi.
Panjim or Panaji is the capital of Goa.
The state of Maharashtra lies at the north of it, Karnataka is at its south and the Arabian Sea is on the west.
Geographically Goa has three divisions; mountainous regions formed by Sahyadri, plateau region and a river basin.
There are five main rivers of Goa; Mandovi, Tiracol, Zuari, Sal and Talpona.
Due to the highly flourishing tourism industry of Goa, the infrastructure of this region is highly developed.
Basic facilities such as clean drinking water, electricity and sanitation are in place.
Moreover, hospitals and educational institutes have been setup all over the state.
Transport and communication lines are also highly developed.
In fact, Panjim has been selected as one of hundred Indian cities to be developed as a smart city under the Smart Cities Mission of the government which has further facilitated the development of its infrastructure.
The Goan architecture is representative of the different cultures that have influenced its history through the ages.
The most striking feature about Goan architecture starts with its houses that are painted in bright colours- ranging all the way from yellows to blues along with red tiled roofs.
The churches present in Goa are representative of the European culture since they were built by the Portuguese community.
These churches characterize a few gothic elements as well as baroque façade.
As for the forts, apart from presenting themselves as a symbol of grandeur, in the early days, these forts served various practical purposes.
When we look at the city of Panjim in particular, we can notice the terraced hills, concrete buildings with attached balconies and cherry red tiled roofs.
Several avenues in the city are lined with trees such as Gulmohar and acacia.
In the 17th century, the Portuguese constructed the architecture of this city with stepped streets and a seven-kilometre-long promenade on a planned grid system.
The culture of Goa is extremely rich and dynamic and therefore, it attracts thousands of tourists from all over the globe.
Portuguese influence can also be seen in this culture, as Goa was a Portuguese empire for 451 years.
This state is known to be a place filled with talented and creative individuals who present a unique blend of Eastern and Western cultures.
The dance and music forms of Goa have evolved significantly over the years and form an integral part of rural Goa culture.
These dances draw their inspiration from Portuguese, Dutch cultures and combine them with Indian elements.
‘Dekhni’ is known as a rare combination of traditional and modern music performed by women. Fudgi and Dhalo are known to be the most popular dances of Goa, followed by the group tribal dance ‘Kunbi.’
The dance form of Fudge is also popular and is known to be a symbol for women to express their innermost devotion to the deity.
During the Shigmo festival, these women hold lamps on their heads and dance to the beat of the drums in traditional costumes.
The Goan music is popular for bringing a form of synergy to everyone’s lives and taking a break. Mando, Ovi, and Suravi are forms of folk music that are still popular in Goa.
The energy and festive fervour of the Goan residents is best visible through the celebration of their festivals and fairs.
In February every year, a carnival is organized by the government to increase tourist attraction.
This carnival features parades, processions and music.
The Shigmo festival is also very popular here. This is known to be the ‘Goan version of Holi’ and is celebrated in March every year.
The Shigmo parade takes place in Panjim and all Goans excitedly rush every spring to take part in it.
The Sao Jao festival in June is also popular. This festival initially started out as a tradition wherein the newly wedded son-in-law would jump into a pond. However, today, the festival involves people who dress up in colorful clothes and spend the whole day in water.
Other popular festivals include Ganesh Chathurti, Zatra, Eid, Diwali and Christmas.
The Goa Arts and Literary Festival is also arranged to introduce the culture of Goa amongst the people. Debates, discussions, and lectures on art, music and photography are held.
The food of Goa presents countless lip-smacking dishes featured from the East and West.
In particular, people truly enjoy authentic Goan food.
The food from this state features flavors of beef, coconut, jaggery and an enormous amount of seafood.
Goan food can be compared to the Portuguese food due to their influence over the state.
Bread and different spices are also used to make the dishes more attractive and mouth-watering.
Some of the well-known dishes include chicken caffreal, bebinca, and the cashew drink, ‘feni.’
The people of Goa are the heart and soul of the state.
They are known to have a laid-back attitude and a warm heart which further attracts international tourists and boosts the tourism industry of this state.
They converse in their regional Language-Konkani which further has various dialects.
The Konkani spoken by the Catholics is known to be significantly different from the one spoken by the Hindus.
Some portion of the Goan population still speaks Portuguese due to the Indian-Portuguese ancestry.
It is known that the village names in Goa can be used to identify the clans of people.
According to the 2011 census of India, Panjim had a population of 114,405 wherein males constituted 52% of the population and females 48%.
It had an average literacy rate of 90.9% with the male literacy being 94.6% and female literacy 86.9%.
The distinct religions in Goa represent the ethos of religious tolerance.
Panaji compromises of three major religions - Hinduism being the majority with 64.08% followers, Christianity with 26.51% followers, and the smallest being Islam with only 8.84% followers.
Around 0.4% of the population includes Buddhist, Jain, and Sikh followers.
However, despite the diverse population, the people here believe that they are Goans first and then their religious identities.