The Crocheted Pineapple, a Modern Motif with History

By Caissa "Cami" McClinton – 4 Comments

The pineapple is a very traditional, completely beautiful, crocheted lace pattern. Pineapple patterns (both representational and symbolic) have been found in needlework books dating back to as early as the 1840s, but the recorded history of the pineapple as fruit and symbol goes back to hundreds of years before that.

Pineapple is native to the Caribbean, and the indigenous Carib people used to place a “nana” at the entrance to a village to signify welcome to guests. As the fruit was spread to other regions by Christopher Columbus, among others, the tradition of the pineapple as a welcoming symbol also spread.

The pineapple, sometimes called the “princess” or “king of fruits” was adopted as a symbol of wealth, abundance, and privilege. This is due to the fact that attaining a pineapple outside of the native, tropical area was very difficult, as the fruit would often spoil before it could reach its destination in Europe. A fresh pineapple was a rare and expensive treasure in Europe, especially before the mid-1600s, when horticulturists began to cultivate pineapples in “hot-houses.”

Not surprisingly, as the fruit gained popularity and was grown in different places, the symbolic nature of the pineapple motif also grew. Painting, architecture, and needlework are mediums that have prominently featured the pineapple. Three-dimensional pineapples have been crafted into fashionable wristlets while the pineapple lace motif been used in everything from thread doilies, to blankets, to garments, to accessories. The crocheted pineapple lace motif enjoyed a hey day in the U.S. in the 1930s and 1940s, and could be seen everywhere!

Pineapple doilies were traditionally considered to be a perfect addition to an American dinner table or guest room. The pineapple crochet motif persists as a classic pattern with a modern life. The motif has staying power, both because of its beauty and its meaning. Indeed, we here at Crochet Spot have two very lovely pineapple patterns!

Click for Pattern to Amy's Summer Lace Fingerless Gloves

Click for Pattern to Amy’s Summer Lace Fingerless Gloves

Click for Erin's Square Pineapple Doily Pattern

Click for Erin’s Square Pineapple Doily Pattern

Have you ever crocheted a pineapple? What do you think of the crocheted pineapple lace motif and the history of the pineapple’s symbolism? Please leave any thoughts, questions, or ideas in the comment section below!

Sources
Throw Back Thursday – Pineapples!
Pineapple Culture: A History of the Tropical and Temperate Zones (Google eBook)
Social History of the Pineapple Being the Brief and Colorful Story of a Truly American Plant
Perfect Pineapple: A Knitted Regency Reticule, c 1800
Pineapples and Fish
Symbolism of the Pineapple
The Pineapple, “Princess of Fruits” and Symbol of Hospitality

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4 Comments

  1. Kate says:

    There’s an uglier side to all this: the importation of pineapples to Europe and North America goes hand in hand with extermination of native Carib people and enslavement of Africans in the Carribean. Pineapples (and other island products, especially sugar) were to a large extent the spoils of plantation ownership. So welcoming guests in, say, New England with pineapple or pineapple-themed household goods was basically a way of stating that you’d made a pile of money from other people’s misery.

    Which, of course, has little or nothing to do with the crocheted pineapple, which is a Fibonacci spiral found in innumerable places in nature other than just in pineapples, from pine cones to romanesco cauliflower.

  2. Akorin (Nelita) says:

    Beautiful story about the pineapple fruit. I had crocheted some pineapple motif and it is always noticed by whoever sees the item. The mittens pictured seemed easy to do and it’s a nice gift to give. Thanks for the story.

  3. Maria says:

    Yes, I have crocheted a few pineapple patterns. But, would you believe, I once accidentally grew a real pineapple inside my house. When I buy a fresh pineapple, I always cut off the top and try to root it in a pot of soil. The success rate is low, but now and then I get a plant that lasts a few years. A couple of years ago one of them actually grew a pineapple a little larger than a hen’s egg. I finally had to cut it off because the stem dried up. There was only a tiny bit of edible flesh, but it was certainly the freshest pineapple I ever ate.

  4. Linda says:

    I love the pineapple design and have crocheted many doilies, centerpieces and tablecloths featuring this design. I prefer thread crochet to yarn as I find it easier to work with and also less expensive.

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