Saturday, March 21, 2009

Looking Lace

I thought I'd show you some of the lace I've been making the last few evenings. It's very relaxing, like knitting, the repetition of the movements and watching a ball of thread become something in your hands. Immediate reward.

During the day, working with computers and programs at a very hectic and fast-paced run, there's a feeling afterward that there's not a lot to show for all the hours and thinking that went on, not anything tangible that you could hold in your hand.

So to sit down with a tiny steel crochet hook and a ball of thread, following a pattern I've had from the early 1970's, to make a strand of lace like this seems like the antidote to the workday.

The pace is slow and measured, the results immediate and visible. It grows organically in the hand, stitch by stitch and row by row.

Some of these patterns have been around since the 1800's and even earlier, being worked by women to make money for their family, or to occupy genteel upper class female hands that weren't allowed to go into the work world and needed something to make, to be productive.

The idea of a trouseau, of pillowcases, doilies and linen sheets decorated with lengths of this handmade lace, in a sweet smelling cedar chest. Small girls and teens being taught the skill of handwork, of needlework. Dress fronts and bonnets ornamented with handmade lace.

In the 1970's I was visiting a friend's family at a ranch in southwest Texas, an old ranchhouse that's probably no longer standing. She went to an old cupboard and pulled out a wooden box, and inside were rolls and lengths of tatted and crocheted lace. Aged, golden color from time, they were gorgeous. Beautifully ornate, made by female family members over the generations. A treasure trove. Also nestled inside were the ancient hooks, some of ivory and some in steel, and carefully wrapped packages of the cotton threads to make the lace. Put away carefully for another day.

I want to try my hand at irish lace crochet, I have reproductions of the books used to teach the irish women and girls how to imitate the venetian lace designs that were so popular at the time with french fashion designers. The history of it is facinating, how they used crochet methods to imitate the fancy lace patterns to make money to support their households. For them it wasn't relaxation. For them it was their work and their livelihood. It's nice to have it as a pastime, I prefer it that way.

Is your beading or needlework your refuge, too?


Fanciful Expressions said...

Hi Lynn,

Your lace is so beautiful! Where did you first learn to do that? Is it the same as crochet?

Gorgeous, just gorgeous.


LLYYNN - Lynn Davis said...

Hi, Carolyn,
My grandmother taught me to crochet when I was a little girl, it was an inexpensive way to keep me occupied. For a fifty-cent pattern book, a twenty-five-cent hook and a dollar ball of thread, she could keep me busy for a long time!

The patterns are very old but they're being republished now so they're available again.

It's particularly memorable that I'm making the lace now, if you pop over to the Art Bead Scene blog for my Studio Saturday post today you'll likely see what I mean.

Thanks for asking!

dogfaeriex5 said...

wow!!! the lacework is so beautiful from a forgotten era...i love to find treasures of lace at the flea markets, there is something about where it has been and who used and what for...these stories always swirling in my mind, lol

SarahKelley said...

It's so delicate and beautiful-- I'm not great with a crochet hook. If I was I might try this. It's wonderful.

LLYYNN - Lynn Davis said...

The trick is to start with a simple pattern and learn the rythmns first, before jumping into a large complex design. And yes, there are visual cues that help like highlighting repeating components and underlining the tricky spots that need your attention.

And never stopping in the middle of the repeat - I lose track of where I was!

Otherwise, it's very simple once you get the hang of it.

lacelady said...

Love your descriptions, and pictures of, your crochet lace. I love to make Irish Crochet lace, and have lots of reference materials that I can share or point you to. It is lovely to do, and to have.

SummersStudio said...

Lynn, this brings tears to my eyes. My Gramma tatted lace and I have a few treasured pieces in my cupboard. Such a lovely memory, seeing her with her shuttle in hand. Thank you!

LLYYNN - Lynn Davis said...

OOOh, LaceLady, yes, that would be great. I have some printed books from the site at but sometimes they're hard to read when they're printed. There are some from 1913 in french, from Marie Antoinette (I believe it's a pseudonymn, not her real name) who hepled to teach the Irish how to replicate the Venetian Point lace.

Have more? Do tell, or click on the photo of the Ringleader of LLYYNN and send me an email ... THANKS!