On July 13, 2019 I had the privilege of being inducted into the Crochet Guild of America Hall of Fame. In my acceptance speech I talked about some of the research I am doing on the history of crochet. You can read the speech here.
My Family Heirlooms Crochet Sample Book won first place in thread in the 2019 CGOA Design Competition. It was inspired by the crochet sample books popular from about 1880-1930 but I had a few” improvements” in mind. Many of the old books had raw fabric pages that ravel so I wanted the individual pages finished. Many of the old books had several empty pages at the back which I don’t like so I wanted mine to be expandable having only as many pages as necessary. Most of the old books have no information on maker, dates, materials, stories, etc. I wanted mine to have room for notes and journaling.
So here are some features of my book. Each fabric page is edge-finished in crochet. Pages are assembled into an expandable book using a unique, flexible button and buttonhole spine. The book is filled with swatches made by me and both my and my husband’s grandmothers and great grandmothers. The backs of edge-crocheted ball bands provide journaling space for family stories and notes.
I already consider this a family heirloom and it’s only 6 months old! I love flipping through the pages and remembering my grandmothers and great grandmothers.
I was thrilled to win the 2019 CGOA Design Competition Grand Prize with my Rockabilly Swing Dress. It features a sweetheart neckline, form-fitting bodice and full skirt. Made with Aunt Lydia’s size 10 crochet cotton using Catherine’s Wheel stitch. Internal shaping used to shape bodice. Cape and gloves complete the ensemble but were not submitted as part of the design competition. The dress took about 150 hours to complete.
My article “Mid-Nineteenth-Century British Crochet Hooks: A Story of Invention” has made its debut in the Nov/Dec 2017 issue of PieceWork magazine. It discusses early crochet hook designs and advances in steel technology that made them possible. Dating of hooks is backed by British patents including the patent numbers. Here’s a link to an excerpt from the article.
There haven’t been many articles on crochet hook collecting published. One of the early ones was a magazine article in the June 1979 issue of Crochet World. It’s an interview with Bert Turriff of De Pere, Wisconsin, who collected old hooks using an ad in a trade magazine. You can read the entire article using the link below.
All Crochet Hooks Look Alike by Jean Ferenbach, Crochet World vol 2 no 2, 1979-06, House of White Birches.
The new issue of Vintage Crochet, a special issue of PieceWork magazine, has just been released. I’m thrilled to have an article on Irish Crochet, Bebe Irish Crochet – DYI Irish Crochet from Written Patterns, and two projects – Irish Rose Pillow and Pansy Pillow in the issue. My article discusses changes in Irish Crochet needed to move it from a commercial production technique for a finished product to a written pattern technique that could be worked by a single person.
For magazine purchase:
For digital purchase:
I created this Irish Crochet doll dress as an appreciation piece to see what it was like to make Irish Crochet on the scale used in the 1850s. It is worked with size 80 cordonnet for the motifs and size 100 for the mesh. These thread sizes would have been on the larger size of those used in the 1850s. Working in the 18″ doll format allows use of full-sized stitches while keeping the overall size down. Still the dress took over 300 hours to complete. The dress won the PieceWork Needleworker of the Year First Place in Crochet in 2001/2002.
Here’s where the appreciation comes in. First of all, I didn’t think it would take that long to make this dress and I’m a fast crocheter. I estimate a similar full-sized woman’s dress would have taken about 5000 hours. It also surprised me how much such a little dress weighed. I asked Maire Treanor about the weight and she told me that the Irish Crochet was made in a lightly twisted thread (similar to DMC floche). A tightly twisted thread like cordonnet weights much more than a loosely twisted thread like floche.
The pattern for the dress was published as Irish Crochet Doll: Annie’s Attic leaflet 872651 in 2001. I have a few copies left. Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested.
I always wondered if any of my children would take up needlework when they became adults. They all learned basic sewing skills (as well as basic carpentry skills, cooking skills, etc.) as children but you never know which they will enjoy as adults. My oldest daughter, Carrie Merrell, has taken up quilting and her grandmother, Laura Nehring, would have been pleased. I think one of the things that appealed to both of them (and to me) in quilting is the math.
Carrie has just released her first ebook, the Quilty Math Workbook. It’s one of those books you look at and wonder Why Didn’t I Think of That? When I design a quilt, I spend hours figuring out how much of each fabric I need. And the next time I design a quilt, I start all over from scratch figuring out how much of each fabric I need. Carrie has organized the designing and math of a quilt into graphs and tables that you fill in as you go. The graphs help you visualize your developing quilt first as blocks and then as an entire quilt top. Then, as you work down each table, she has you apply simple math to the measurements of your quilt block to figure out how much fabric you need. And I use to figure out the math from scratch every time I designed a new quilt – Never Again! I’m using her workbook to keep my designs organized and the fabric calculations as simple and fast as possible.
I’m always surprised at how many people in their 20s are picking up crochet. I guess I don’t notice it because most of the ones I meet are crocheting without patterns. Noelle, one of my daughter’s friends, made this African grey parrot to look like our real African grey parrot named Hermes. It is so lifelike that at least two of us in the family have tried to put the fake Hermes back on his perch! Noelle said she was thinking about putting some of her work up for sale on Etsy. I volunteered to teach her how to write patterns if she would rather sell patterns than finished items since she has never crocheted from a pattern herself. Hope she takes me up on my offer as her work is outstanding.