October 20th, 2011

My fascination with crocheted lace continues. While researching petticoat edging, I’ve come across so many collar patterns from the 1840s and 50s that I finally gave in. For my first attempt, I chose a pattern by crochet goddess Cornelia Mee in imitation of Brussels lace. I’m not quite sure in what way it is meant to resemble Brussels lace though.

Lace Collar

There were still two more rows to be added when this picture was taken. They didn’t do much to increase its affinity to any Brussels lace I’ve ever seen.

Real Brussels Lace

This is real lace. I found the photograph (culled from Ebay) on Lace News. Brussels lace is a pillow lace, originally made in and around Brussels, naturally. It’s frequently confused with other types of lace made in the same region, including Brussels point, a needle lace that is quite different. At least the experts say so.

Back to my crocheted collar. It seemed awfully small when I began, so I added an extra 30 stitches to the starting chain, thinking that my gauge was off (always an iffy thing with an historic pattern) or that necks are simply bigger in 2011. But when I finished pressing it flat I was horrified to discover that my “swan-like” neck was just swimming inside the collar. So I immediately began a new iteration, sticking strictly to the pattern. I’m nearly done with the new version (it works up very quickly) and plan to give away the enormous one to someone who will wear it with modern blouses, which have wider necklines.

Ready for a Petti

October 12th, 2011

My guipure petticoat trim is complete! It measures just a bit longer than 150 inches — perfect to apply to one of my three breadth (of 45 inch muslin) petticoats.

Guipure Trimming

I know this one will have a sufficient hem (for a change). But the question is, how many tucks will it sport? What will be their pattern? No embroidery. At least that’s what I’m thinking right now…

Final Stretch

October 10th, 2011

Actually, I’m now even closer to finishing my latest petticoat edging than when I took this picture…thanks to an evening at home watching movies with my favorite fellow.

Guipure, final row

I’m working on the final row. It’s going fairly fast — I’m nearly halfway done after just a few hours of work. Good thing too, as I’m getting a little tired of crochet — at least this pattern. And my wrists ache, my fingers are stiff, and there is a nasty bruise on my right palm where the end of the hook rests. Genius is pain.

Next I’ll need a petticoat to sew this to. I think I have just enough muslin left. Tucks seem like the way to go again, since I still have yet to find any evidence of a mid-19th century petticoat sporting both crochet and embroidery.

Thanks for the Thread

October 8th, 2011

Look what Richard (our wonderful UPS man) delivered this week:

Crochet Materials

I needed reinforcements for my growing interest in crocheted lace. Pictured here we have thread sizes 20, 30, and 40, and a size 14 hook (the smallest sold in most American stores). Thread used to be available in every numbered size, but by the mid-20th century they’d narrowed it down to every 10. I’ve been using size 10 (size 5 and 3 are also available, though very chunky) with a size 10 hook. I’ve got sizes 11 and 13 hooks waiting for the 20 and 30 thread. My new ball of size 40 seems about right for the new hook. Funny story about size 14 hooks…my friend and dauntless seamstress Zoh chose a size 14…to LEARN crochet! She’s my hero.

I’d also like to thank Mr. I. U. for financing this venture.

Crochet Class

October 2nd, 2011

Yesterday afternoon, eight ladies and two gentlemen gathered in the basement of the Ottendorfer Library under the auspices of the New York Nineteenth Century Society to learn about crocheted lace. I was drafted to deliver the opening remarks, since I’ve been reading about crochet lately, thanks to my petticoat obsession project.

After my little speech, complete with a few gems culled straight from period sources (stay tuned for a full article on early crochet as soon as I get the time to put it together), everyone whipped out their hooks. We began making samples from the triangular looped 1855 pattern I found in Peterson’s and used for my recently completed petticoat.


Luckily, everyone there already knew how to crochet. I was just leading them a bit further down the primrose path to needlework insanity. They caught on quickly, producing impressive headers for their samples, and even getting so far as the first row of loops. The photo above shows one of our talented hand-work circle members in mid-double-crochet.

Audio MP3

Here’s an audio excerpt from the introduction I gave. Before you listen, a couple of possible errata. I call point lace an embroidered lace, but I think it would be more accurately termed a needle lace. Also, I say that Peterson’s is searchable on ProQuest. I don’t believe it is…but there is another major database that many research libraries do carry with Peterson’s, if I could only remember which one!


After I finished my little speech, everyone set to work. I wandered around helping as needed, and working on my own petticoat trim. To make it more portable, I wrapped it around my neck (as captured in this photograph by my handsome and talented father, who was in attendance).

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