Prussian Crochet

Automation has made it possible to produce so many objects — from bread to shoes — without the intervention of human hands (assuming that pressing a button doesn’t count). What things do you still prefer in their traditional, handmade version?  This post is part of the Daily Prompt at http://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_prompt/handmade-tales/.

I love the fineness of handmade crocheted doilies.  I know they are old fashioned and not really in vogue, but nevertheless, the textures of the threads appeals to me.  I still make them by hand just as they were done in my family for years.  Crocheting with thread or “tatting,” was originally a cheap way to embellish clothing by making a decorative lace to edge sleeves or collars.  Along the way, as women often do, they figured out they could make accessories for their homes.  Doilies were made into lacey curtains, tablecloths and even covers for furniture pieces.

For me it is about creating something handmade.  The added bonus of it being a skill handed down within my family for generations has made it something I cherish.  My mother, and grandmothers, in fact all the women in our family, all crocheted doilies.  I feel like I am a part of that rich Prussian history I come from.

In addition, I enjoy the repetition of the patterns as some are done in a round form, others in a square.  Some are continuous stitches and some make a mesh pattern called “filet crochet.”  Filet crochet is my favorite.  The heart piece shown below was completed this spring.  I love counting the stitches and seeing something develop in my own two hands from a ball of thread and a crochet hook.  It is so satisfying!

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My favorite heart doily in filet crochet is shown in the next picture below.  I crocheted this in a deep plum color to match the colors in my bedroom.  I crocheted two of them and my plan is to frame them and hang them on the wall.  I decided if my craft is old fashioned then I had to come up with ways to display my creations that were more modern.

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Normally, I prefer to use either ecru or white thread.  The white or ecru colors are the most authentic to the doilies made long ago.  Although, I know my grandmother used to “tea stain” her white doilies by soaking them in tea.  They came out a rich warm brownish color.  Grandma used these on the kitchen table.  I suppose these helped to not show as many food stains back then.

I have seen commercially made doilies for sale in different craft stores.  They do not have the richness or quality in the stitches as my handmade doilies do.  I prefer the real thing and enjoy the completion of each new doily project I create.

Gardening With Thread

One of my favorite things to do while I am waiting for my garden to grow is to crochet with thread and make doilies.  Inevitably, I end up sitting in my comfy chair, during the hottest hours of the day, with a ball of crochet thread and a good pattern.  I love to crochet old fashioned doilies!  There is a calming satisfaction I seem to get from counting those stitches and watching my creation grow from my own fingers.

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I made this ecru doily a few months ago and love the color and texture.  Crocheting, like gardening takes time to see the end result.  You start out small and with daily work, you see your creation blossom into a stunning work of art.

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This plum colored heart doily is one of my favorite patterns and I make it regularly to give as gifts for my family and friends.

I learned to crochet with thread because my Prussian mother and grandmother had both crocheted doilies.  I wanted to learn the craft and taught myself many years ago.  I started with yarn and eventually moved to thread.  If you want to learn how to crochet, check out the Crochet Geek on YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/user/tjw1963?sub_confirmation=1 for videos that will walk you through each step.

Although doilies are a bit old fashioned for our modern décor; I wanted to figure out a way to incorporate them in an understated manner into my home.  The plum heart doily shown above has a twin to it. My intention is to frame them both with a white background and black frame and hang them in my bedroom, as the plum color matches my curtains.

I am currently working on a white doily called, “In the Vineyard.”  It seems even in crocheting, I am drawn to garden themes. What do you like to do when you are waiting for your garden to grow?

crochet piece