Wednesday 5 June 2024

Crochet lace


There are many types of crochet lace, including Irish crochet lace and hairpin crochet, but today I’m looking at the type of crochet lace patterns that were popular homemade crafts in the 19th and 20th centuries. The instructions for many of these designs were easily available in women’s magazines, needlework books and craft leaflets, many of them produced by the thread manufacturers. The equipment was a simple hook and thread and the work was portable and easy to pick up and put down if the housewife had a few moments of leisure between household tasks. The majority of these crochet items were made at home for use in the home.

Mats and doilies, like the one in the main image, were popular, but crochet was also used to make lace trimmings for clothing and household linen, such as this example from Therese de Dilmont’s encyclopaedia of needlework, which mimics needlemade reticella lace.

Another reason why crochet was such a versatile craft for the homemaker is that items could be made from a collection of smaller squares or medallions, which were easier to work than one large piece of lace, and could be assembled to form the finished larger item once enough squares had been made. An example is this chair back, which is also illustrated with instructions in de Dilmont’s encyclopaedia.

It is no longer fashionable to incorporate so much lace in interior design, but many families have heirloom pieces of crochet lace made by their forebears and although we do not use them in our daily lives we should acknowledge their beauty and not dismiss the level of skill involved in their construction.

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