Crochet, Lace Making

Going Back To The Beginning

Going Back To The Beginning

I was going through pattern books recently looking for baby knitting patterns when I came across a cotton crochet book. The temptation of going back to the beginning of my crochet journey was very strong, but I diligently resisted while I finished a few projects that were on the go.

Going Back To The BeginningProgress has been quite good over the last month or so, so I unearthed a ball of cotton I had bought on special a while ago “just in case”, got out my set of crochet hooks, and allowed myself the treat of starting one of the so-called “Easy One-Day Doilies”. To be fair, the pattern I have chosen is relatively straight forward and, if I gave in to temptation and just sat with it until it was finished, it would probably only take a day to do. The unfortunate reality is that there are a lot of other things that need to be fitted into my days as well, minor details like work for instance, so it has taken me over a week to get halfway through so far.

Going Back To The BeginningIt has been really enjoyable to do some cotton crochet again. I taught myself to crochet doing fine cotton pieces. These were inspired by the beautiful things my grandmother made. The book I am using has some lovely projects in it and I am sure I will be able to make time to do some more. I now enjoy crocheting with yarn, which is obviously a bit quicker, but there is something very special about the delicate lacework of fine cotton crochet.

Crochet, Knitting, Lace Making

So What Is Lace Anyway?

So What Is Lace Anyway?
What do you think of when you hear the term “Lace”? If you are anything like me you will probably think of something white, intricate and delicate, possibly even frilly. We usually associate lace with things like wedding dresses, christening gowns and ball dresses. Lace fabric and trims are often used for special occasions like these.

A fairly generic definition of lace is “a fine open fabric of cotton or silk, made by looping, twisting, or knitting thread in patterns and used especially for trimming garments.” As you can see, this includes a lot more than the traditional idea of lace. I would like to share with you some personal examples I have at home.

So What Is Lace Anyway? The more traditional items I have are crocheted and tatted. These items were all made by my grandmother, and I inherited them from her. The small round table cloth is crocheted. It was made using a small hook and fine cotton.

So What Is Lace Anyway? So What Is Lace Anyway?The tatted items are a bit older. These items used to be more common when lace was a lot more expensive and less readily available than it is today. People made collars, cuffs, and neck trims which could be transferred from one garment to another. This set is two collar points and a central trim a bit like a cravat.

So What Is Lace Anyway?I have also included a rather basic example of bobbin lace. This is one of the test book marks I made when I started to learn to make bobbin lace. It was made using coloured crochet cotton. You may also remember the needle lace sampler that I started earlier in the year. Unfortunately I have not made much more progress on it as yet, but hope to do some more in our upcoming school holidays.

So What Is Lace Anyway? So What Is Lace Anyway?The last photos are of a shawl I knitted for one of my grandchildren. This is a bit heavier than the other examples, but the border of this shawl still qualifies as lace. I have made a lighter, lacier baby shawl but, unfortunately, I don’t have any photos of it.

I plan to follow up with some more examples of different types of lace soon.

Lace Making

The Old and the New

The Old and the New

After writing my post on “Rediscovering the art of Tatting”, I went hunting and unearthed the box with my tatting equipment in it. Included amongst the bits and pieces was an old pattern book which belonged to my grandmother (see my photo). Unfortunately I have not been able to locate the shuttle she left me.

It is amazing what a variety of patterns you can make using just one basic stitch, the double stitch. This stitch is formed by working alternately under and over the ring thread (see the YouTube video I posted earlier). Complex patterns can be formed by combining and linking a variety of rings and picot loops. Two shuttles can also be used to produce multi-coloured work, or to allow you to work stitches over connecting threads between rings.

I am currently working through the lessons in my book “Learn to Tat” by Janette Baker (also in my photo). Once I am more confident I am planning to tackle some of the projects in my grandmother’s old pattern book. I still have a few pieces of her work and it would be really cool to replicate some of them. It makes me feel a stronger bond with her knowing that I can carry on the work she loved doing.

There are a couple of points to note here regarding the thread used for tatting. Firstly, it is better to use a smooth, tightly twisted thread. This will help produce even stitches and the thread is less likely to unravel and separate while you are working with it.

The second point relates to the weight of the thread. When using mercerised cotton, the higher the number the finer the thread. For fine, delicate looking work you need to use number 70 or 80 thread. The heavier number 10 and 20 threads are good to use for practice work.


Crochet – Convenient and Versatile

Crochet - Convenient and Versatile
Image courtesy of Google

Crochet is a French term meaning “small hook”. Whereas knitting uses two or more needles to form yarn into a fabric, crochet is done with just one hook. Instead of working with a row of stitches, each stitch or cluster in a row is completed individually before moving on to the next.

I think most people immediately associate the word crochet with “Granny squares” and rugs or throws. Granny squares are great ways of using up odd balls and scraps of wool. They can be made separately and joined together in whatever combination or size you want to do. The fact that you are doing just one at a time means they are easily tucked into a bag to take with you if you know you are going to be sitting somewhere waiting for a while.

While these are all very handy features of crochet, there is so much more you can do with it. Projects can range from fine cotton delicate lace to chunky yarn floor rugs or cushions. You can make clothing, accessories, home wares and even jewellery.

My grandmother did a lot of fine cotton crochet and I still have some pieces of her work. I probably took my inspiration from her as this has been the form which has appealed to me the most. There is something special about a handmade table cloth or dressing table set, as opposed to mass produced machine made ones.

There is a great range of versatility in crocheted garments as well. You can use basic yarns, stitches and motifs to make practical everyday wear, or fine luxury yarns and intricate lacy patterns to make stunning special occasion pieces.

The internet has provided a great forum for sharing patterns and tips in recent times, and also gives access to a huge online market for purchasing patterns, yarns and accessories.