Lace Crochet and Mom

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Remembering Mom in Celebration of National Craft Month

I woke up the other morning out of a dream about my Mom.  She was still alive and we were traveling somewhere together – one of those long dreams that keeps changing location as you go.  It wasn’t until I was making my morning cup of coffee that I realized what the date was – the day when my Mom died over 20 years ago.  I still miss her.

Mom

Mom at 19 in the mid 1930’s

It might be hard to see the details in the photo, but this is a crocheted collar that she may have made herself.  Many of the crochet booklets at the time contained patterns and lacy collars were in style.

One of my favorite memories is of the time she taught me how to do crochet lace work.  I was in my late teens and we were snowed in over a long weekend and I was very bored.  She sat happily crocheting in her easy chair.  I caved.  “Mom, how do you do that?”  She looked up and I could read a hopeful but cautious expression on her face. Did she hear right?  Did I finally want to learn lace crochet after years of her offering to show me how?  Or was I just asking a casual question?  She had taught me the basics of yarn crochet when I was a kid, and from time to time I enjoyed making scarves and potholders.  Lace crochet looked much too hard to do and I just couldn’t make sense of the written instructions.  This was before those fabulous magic crochet charts came along.

Mom’s favorite hobby was lace crochet and our house was filled with mats and doilies.  She even crocheted Barbie doll clothes out of designs she created herself.  That winter day she dug out some spare hooks and thread she had on hand and I paged through several or her crochet magazines and books, looking for a pattern to try.  I finally landed on a round doily that didn’t look too complicated.  Mom got me started and it just took a little adjusting to get used to the smaller hook and thin thread.  She helped me decipher the abbreviations and gave me some tips as I went along.  I worked steadily and she went back to her own crochet project.  Every couple of rows I consulted with her about some new instruction that came along.

And along the way I discovered something that altered my way of thinking about my Mom and my approach to life.  I got to a part in the pattern that neither of us could figure out.  After trying a few different options my Mom dispensed with the pattern instructions and completely created a new stitch that got us around the road block. Now, my Mom always was a rule follower and I saw her as very cautious and conventional.  I found out that she was a rule-breaker when it came to crochet work!  She thought of patterns as mere suggestions, and I learned that she often created her own designs and made things up as she went along.  This was both shocking and freeing for me. That weekend I learned a huge lesson in persistence and creative experimentation.

After that, I couldn’t get enough of lace crochet.  Mom lent me back issues of Magic Crochet and after I left home I started subscribing, too.  When they starting publishing bead crochet mats, I gave that a try and loved it.  Here’s the post I did on that subject: Crochet Beaded Heart Mats

Here is one of the largest crocheted mats I’ve ever made – 21 inches in diameter.  An appreciation of the term “exponential” is achieved as each row increasingly takes longer to complete. I can’t remember which issue of Magic Crochet its from, but if I come across it I’ll update the post.

Lace crochet mat: Fiber Art Reflections

Round Lace Crochet Mat – 21 inches in diameter

Lace Crochet Mat: Fiber Art Reflections

This lace mat was made with size 10 crochet thread

For the last couple of weeks I have been on a freeform lace crochet binge.  It becomes a sort of meditative practice, a break from have-to’s and shoulds and musts in life.  It feels so freeing to pick up a hook and a ball of thread and just create as you go.  I’ve been testing out different crocheted cord, tape, and braid patterns which often morph into a freeform piece.  Here are some recent examples of what has been growing off the end of the crochet hook:

Sulky Blendable Thread Crochet: Fiber Art Reflections

Sulky Blendable Heavy Quilting Thread, crocheted with a size 12 crochet hook

Playing with Romanian Point Lace Crochet Braids and Cords

Freeform Lace Crochet: Fiber Art Reflections

Freeform Lace Crochet with #10 Cebelia Crochet Thread and a #10 Steel Hook

Freeform Crochet Lace: Fiber Art Reflections

Freeform Lace Crochet: Fiber Art Reflections

Freeform Lace Crochet: Fiber Art Reflections

Freeform Lace Crochet: Fiber Art Reflections

Freeform lace crochet sculpture: Fiber Art Reflections

Some of these bits and pieces are destined for a friend of mine who creates pottery and sometimes incorporates lace into her pieces.  The lace is dipped into slip and then applied as a surface applique to an unfired piece of pottery. Then the whole thing goes into the kiln.  The lace is burned up in the process but the details remain and become part of the pottery.  Here’s an example of what that looks like:

Lace on Pottery by Stephanie Earl

Recently I came across a back issue of PieceWork magazine (July/August 2010) that had an article about sampler books.  I’m thinking of creating one with examples of patterns and stitches I’m testing out as well as some of the freeform “crochet doodles” I make.

PieceWork Magazine July/August 2010: Fiber Art Reflections

Crochet Sampler Book, PieceWork Magazine: Fiber Art Reflections

Crochet Sampler Book

Crochet sampler book: PieceWork magazine

Crochet Sampler Book

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Thank you, Mom, for teaching me how to crochet and for nurturing a sense of creativity.  I now understand the serene look of contentment I saw on your face whenever you sat down to crochet.

 

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9 responses »

  1. Such a lovely story and history!! Thanks for sharing!
    Your free form lace, and samples are stunning (some of them look like bobbin lace). The pottery is incredible too – who knew!

    • Thanks for your post on National Craft Month, Joanne! I think you’re right about the bobbin lace and I suspect that Bruges lace crochet was created to imitate it. I can’t wait to try out the lace and pottery stuff – my friend and I are setting up a time for that soon.

  2. Your story about your mum and that snowy weekend is so interesting! I love your big doily and your freeform lace is so cool! It looks like a lot of fun! I have never heard of firing lace onto pottery like that – what an amazing result!

  3. Hi again. I have been reading through your posts and just had to comment again 🙂
    Such a lovely story about your Mum teaching you. I have been reflecting recently on how I learned from my Gran, who is in her 80s now and worked most of her life in the Anchor Mills (Scotland). I feel so very privileged to have had handcrafting skills passed down through the generations to me. I taught three of my four children to crochet, but they only really learnt the basics. My only daughter did come to a knit/crochet club with me recently and sat happily doing a basic crochet swatch for an hour or so. Special times. Great blog with quality posts. Thanks.
    Mandy

    • Thanks for sharing about your Gran and how wonderful that you are passing these down to the next generation. I’m hoping to do the same with any of my grandnieces and grandnephews that want to learn (or anyone else, for that matter).

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