Posted by – August 5, 2015
As my crochet hook collection grew over the years, I began grouping my hooks first by material the hook is made from (not the handle) and then by style. Most of the more ornate and delicate styles are steel needles or hooks used for thread work and are no longer made. I wondered if I could date them. I eventually found four sources of information useful in dating hooks: patents/registered designs, materials technology, company documents and packaging.
Patents and registered designs are the most accurate way to date crochet hooks. Either can date the first release of a hook. Patents are usually for innovations in technology such as US patent 572809 by Kippenberg in 1896 for the flat (grip, thumb rest) found on most hooks today. British registered designs or US design patents are usually for a decorative element such as the handle like the diamond mark, US design patent D52973, on the grip of the Peerless Novelty Company hooks.
Materials technology covers the methods of working steel to form a crochet hook. The goal is to make a hook better, faster and cheaper. Steel for the earliest hooks was made in small batches and the hooks were fashioned the same as sewing needles. Later innovations allowed steel to be made in large batches and later still to have the steel formed by stamping machines. Materials technology gives a broader date range as it took time for the industry as a whole to switch from one technology to another. A new company might have to be formed or an established company might have to retool before a new technology would be incorporated.
Major milestones in materials technology for crochet hooks included the changes from small batch steel to large batch steel (Bessemer process patented in 1856) seen in the shift from needles in separate handles to one piece hooks, improvements in tool steel that allowed rods to be stamped into hooks instead of hooks being cut into the rod and decorations worked by lathe turning, and the switch from stamping to swagging. A summary of the materials technology in table format is shown in this link. Associated technologies can also be used to date crochet hooks such as offset lithography on tinplate, usually associated with tin toys, used for crochet hook covers.
Company documents such as advertisements, wholesale catalogs, incorporations, mergers and even litigation over trademarks can provide information on the age of a hook or the length of time a particular hook was manufactured. Advertisements and wholesale catalogs usually only give spot data on when a hook was in production but don’t address when it was first or last made. Legal documents such as articles of incorporation and mergers may put outer limits on the dates a hook was made. British crochet hook manufacturers in the early 1800s were cottage industries. These small manufacturers and their brands might cease to exist after a generation or two or might be consolidated into larger companies such as Milward with logos and brand names being used by the purchasing company. Legal documents can date these events.
Packaging can sometimes by useful in dating crochet hooks especially modern hooks. Boxes holding a dozen hooks were used from about 1900 into the 1960s. In the 1960s C. J. Bates changed to individual blister packages for needlework tools and won several awards in the packaging industry. Most large companies followed suit. Changes in the packaging such as price, whether there is a zip code (see image of package without zip code), and changes in logos and trademarks can all help with dating. For the Clipson hook shown, the Clipson trademark was registered in December 1949 and zip codes were created in 1963 so this packaging is from between 1950 and 1963.
The Lace Museum, 552 S. Murphy Ave., Sunnyvale, California, is having a Mary Schiffmann’s Lacy Knitting ebook release party on Friday, June 5, 2015 from 7 – 9 pm as a part of their new First Friday series. The museum will have the knitted samples that were photographed for the book, a display of laces knitted by Mary herself from the museum’s collection, and a notebook of Mary’s family photos. And I’ll be there to fill in details and answer questions! Refreshments will be served and you will receive a discount code for 50% off Mary Schiffmann’s Lacy Knitting good until June 25, 2015.
While at the museum, check out the current display Lacy Beginnings celebrating lace finery for babies.
You can find Mary Schiffmann’s Lacy Knitting in the Interweave Press Store.
How exciting! My first ebook, Mary Schiffmann’s Lacy Knitting, has just been released by Interweave Press. The ebook contains over 20 knitting patterns collected by Mary Schiffmann, co-founder of the Lacy Knitters Guild. Mary collected lace knitting pieces and patterns her whole life and from many sources. She knitted up each pattern and wrote out the instructions. This might involve translating old instructions into modern terminology or creating instructions from scratch for an heirloom doily that someone loaned her. Included in the book are patterns from sources as varied as Mary’s great aunt’s handwritten notebook to patterns she created to express her love of astronomy.
If you are a beginning lace knitter, you can improve your skills by following along with Mary’s 10 session course on learning to knit lace. The course starts out with a simple edging and each subsequent class introduces a more advanced skill. The course outline, all of the patterns and Mary’s teaching notes are included.
You can find Mary Schiffmann’s Lacy Knitting in the Interweave Press Store. Use the code LACE50 to receive a 50% introductory discount. The coupon runs 6/1 through 6/25/2015.
Posted by – March 13, 2015
The pattern for my Art Nouveau Daisy Table Topper in filet crochet was recently published in Blue Ribbon Crochet special issue by Crochet World magazine. It’s about 36″ diameter and worked in size 30 crochet thread. What I like about this pattern is that because of the curving lines has a much more organic feel than most filet crochet. The little squares that make up the pattern aren’t as visible as in most filet crochet.
Posted by – October 13, 2014
I’ve just posted an in-depth discussion of and instructions for the Perfect Irish Rose and Irish Rose Leaf in the techniques section (pdf). These two crocheted motifs are probably the most recognized motifs in Irish Crochet. Discussion includes how repeats and progressions are used to make the two motifs and how you can easily memorize the basic formula for each so you’ll never need to search for a pattern again! You’ll also learn how to easily modify the patterns to get the exact look you want.
Posted by – March 2, 2014
Coats and Clark Pansy Patch Bedspread made by my grandmother, Laura Nehring, in the late 1960s. Pattern reprinted with permission of Coats and Clark.
March and National Crochet Month have rolled around again. This year for Crochetville’s National Crochet Month blog tour, I want to introduce you to a new section on my web page, Quiet Yarns – Textile Artists. You’ll see the section in the right hand column about half way down.
Quiet Yarns is a collection of stories that I will continue to add to about women (and maybe a few men) who did needlework as part of their daily lives. You probably haven’t heard of any of them. They worked quietly in their homes to add a little luxury to their lives, have a creative outlet, do a little needlework to relax, or maybe make a little money to help support their families. Their stories are typical for the times they lived in so were seldom considered important enough to tell. I’ll tell a few here. I’d like to start you off with the story of my grandmother, Laura Nehring, and her crocheted Pansy Bedspread.
If you missed last year’s blog tour, check out my Crochet Hook Classification. It’s a work in progress but already has a lot of good information that will help you identify and date your old crochet hooks. It also has photos of all of the CGOA Commemorative Crochet Hooks.
And finally, if you did not see my blog post last month, I have a free crochet pattern for Carol Danvers’ (aka Captain Marvel) Lucky Hat first seen in Marvel Comics – Captain Marvel Issue 9. The hat looks like and stretches like knit but it is actually made with slip stitch crochet. Since this hat was made by for Carol by her grandmother Rose in the comic, my version features a beautiful crocheted rose.
Posted by – February 3, 2014
I have a 20 something friend, Julie, who is taking up crochet. She works from patterns which she gets from both print and the internet. Julie is also a comic book fan and one of her favorite characters is Carol Danvers, Captain Marvel. Now Carol has a Lucky Hat (Captain Marvel Issue 9) that her Grandmother Rose made for her and Julie wanted to make herself one. She could find a pattern in knit but not crochet so Julie asked me if I would design a Lucky Hat pattern in crochet. Julie is modeling the result above.
The hat looks like and stretches like knit but it is actually made with slip stitch crochet. Since this hat is crocheted, it uses a beautiful crocheted rose instead of those messy, undefined things in red. The hat was made by Grandma Rose after all.
The pattern for Carol Danvers’ Lucky Hat in crochet is here.
Posted by – January 21, 2014
I’ll be teaching three classes at the IOLI (International Organization of Lace, Inc.) national convention in Sacramento, CA on Aug. 4-8, 2014.
Romanian Point Lace Necklace
This Romanian Point Lace Floral Necklace is a new class that I am introducing. It is based on Romanian Point Lace technique with crocheted cord and needlelace fillings. I’ve taken some liberties with this piece in that it is worked in layers and is not reversible like traditional Romanian Point Lace.
I will also be teaching this 9″ Irish Crochet Butterfly based on a piece in the collection of The Lace Museum, Sunnyvale, CA. If desired, you can also improve your skills at working Irish Crochet from 1990 era patterns.
And for the 6 hour session, I will teach how to make the four buttons pictured above.
Posted by – January 7, 2014
I’ll be teaching Irish Crochet at The Lace Museum on February 1, 2014. We’ll be working on two different Irish Crochet motifs from Irish Crochet Lace by DMC circa 1900. Learn to work over a padded cord, make grounds, make the perfect Irish Rose and practice reading antique patterns. You also have the option to continue working on your Irish Crochet Butterfly from last year’s class. Donna has also promised that she will pull the boxes of Irish crochet out of the archives for us to study. Class is from 9:30-4:30. Go to The Lace Museum website to sign up.
Posted by – December 10, 2013
Recently I was looking at an old Interface Age magazine (Sept 1978, p. 76-81) and I ran across this gem. It’s a program on a vinyl record, called a Floppy Rom, that prints out McCalls sewing pattern 6066 for the dress pictured above in sizes 9-13. The program is designed to print out the pattern on a 132 character wide printer in multiple long strips that you tape together. The pattern is mapped as it was sized on the pattern sheets. There is no provision to dynamically adjust the pattern.
For you geeks out there, a bit about the Floppy Rom. The Floppy Rom is a 33 1/3 rpm vinyl record that is thin enough to be bound in a magazine. Usually these records held one song or some audio advertising but a technique was developed so that the vinyl record could store digital data in the Kansas City standard, a format originally developed for audio cassette tapes.
Click on the link to see the full article The Automated Dress Pattern for the Apple II by Wm. V. R. Smith III, (c) Artsci Publishing. It is reprinted here with permission of the author. You can follow Bill’s current company and learn a little more about how the pattern program was developed under the history section at Artsci Publishing and learn a little more about Bill on his web page William V. R. Smith.