Sunday, September 26, 2010

Grape Leaf From Priscilla Irish Crochet Book 2

Leaf from Figures 79 and 82 in Priscilla Irish Crochet Book No. 2

Over the past summer Lily (Ms. Crochet) and I have been having a lot of fun working through some of the vintage Irish Crochet motifs from the "Priscilla Irish Crochet" books No. 1 and No. 2. Free downloadable copies in pdf format can be found on the Antique Pattern Library site

Lily and I take turns picking motifs and then we work through them together trying to interpreting the old instructions. The language is often archaic and you have to try to figure out just what they are trying to say so we email back and forth if we run across something that can be interepreted in more than one way. For instance, a single crochet in U.S. terms is a double crochet in U.K. terms. Once you get used to it though it's not hard to convert your thinking.

Sometimes the vintage books just assume that you know something and they don't necessarily always explain what they mean. The Priscilla books often tell you how to do a technique once and then don't usually repeat the instructions again. The first book was written as a teaching tool and the techniques, once learned, are often repeated in various motifs through out the book. Sometimes they'll refer you back to a technique or motif that was worked earlier in the book and it turns into a treasure hunt, but that's part of the fun for me. :) 

This past couple weeks Lily and I have "graduated" from just sending emails to actually crocheting together in real time using yahoo messenger. Quite a feat considering we live half way across the world from each other! Good thing I'm a night person and stay up all night.LOL When it's night where I live it's day time where she lives.  Using head phones and mics we can actually talk to each other as we crochet and discuss what we think needs to be done next. It's the next best thing to actually being in the same room together. It's been great fun and the first night we actually finished this whole motif in one 8 hour sitting! Yes we are crazy!  Whew!!! We enjoyed it so much and the time just flew by, but we have decided that we won't try that again! LOL 

This motif was relatively easy to make and very gratifying. It's actually part of a collar which features grapes and leaves held together by a crocheted background. I decided just to make the leaf motif to learn how to do it. I made mine out of white #10 crochet thread for the working thread and size 3 crochet thread for the pc (padding cord). It's huge! LOL  Lily made hers out of size 50 for the working thread and size 10 for the pc.  She made her leaf green and also crocheted a pretty bunch of yellow grapes to go along with it. It's just beautiful.

The only thing that bothered me about this motif is the little 'sprig' off to the right side because it seems to not belong. I don't necessarly need symmetry in my designs, but this little 'growth' just seems out of place. If I make it again I may leave it off.

I hope you've enjoyed reading about our adventure.

I also belong to the Irish Crochet Lovers ravelry group. We are just about to start working a different motif every month as a group and I know that will be great fun too. They also have a sister group Irish Crochet Lovers yahoo group that goes by the same name. I've learned a lot from thes wonderful crocheters. They are always open to new members. :)

Monday, September 13, 2010

Fig. 31 From Priscilla Irish Crochet Book No. 2

I've finally finished another motif. It's Fig. 31 from the Priscilla Irish Crochet Book No. 2. I've really enjoyed making it. As with all of the motifs from the vintage books, it was a real learning experience. 

I was tired of making white motifs so I decided to make this motif with black for the leaves or 'ribs' as the book calls them, and a pretty, dark mauve for the flower. Of course, in the vintage book they are all white. 

I felt a little playful with this one so I decided to make the button in the flower black to match the ribs. Another thing I did with the button was to add an extra row. The original directions left you with a kind of tube which you were supposed to stuff with a little cotton and then sew down onto the flower. Instead, I added an extra row in which I decreased by skipping one sc on the previous row all the way around. So I did an sc then skipped the next stitch on the previous row and repeated this all the way around the row. This caused the tube to pull inward and fold under making the button double thickness so I didn't have to stuff it.

I didn't sew the flower down to the ribs because I'm not happy with them. I miscounted a few times and the ribs aren't even. I'll make another one eventually and do it right but right now I'm bored with this motif and I want to go on to something new.

Monday, September 6, 2010

More Details Figure 56

The center flower portion made up of 3 separate motifs stacked and sewn together.

Figure 56 From The Priscilla Irish Crochet Book 1

Well, whew! It's been quite a while since I posted anything here.
I've been working on a project out of the vintage book, Priscilla Irish Crochet Book 1. It's sure been an interesing journey. This piece is made up of smaller motifs which are crocheted separately and then finally joined together to make a lovely piece. My favorite part of the whole piece is the flower in the center. It's made up of three different motifs which are stacked and sewn together. I love the lacy flower in on the bottom layer.

This certainly has been a learning experience for me. I worked with padding cord (pc) a lot making these motifs. At first it was quite a challenge to get the right tension on the pc. If I pulled too tight the petals curled and if I didn't pull tight enough the stitches might look too spaced out. The padding cord is generally a heaver thread than the one you crochet with. The book called for size 70 working thread and size 10 padding cord, but I'm still learning so I used size 3 crochet thread for the padding cord and size 10 thread for the working thread. Of course, this made my finished product absolutely huge! LOL But that's ok. I don't mind. It was a good practice piece and I had a lot of fun learning how to make the various motifs.

I worked on the motifs every week while I was waiting for my husband's appointments at the clinic. It gave me something to do and helped pass the time. I love that crochet is so portable and easy to do just about anywhere. You just need a little ball of thread, a hook and you're good to go. :)

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Irish Crochet - The Original Freeform Crochet

Irish Crochet is the original freeform crochet. It's amazingly versatile. The process is simple to understand once you learn the techniques. Basically you make various leaves, flowers and motifs, sometimes called 'sprigs' and then they are joined with a 'ground' or 'background' crochet technique. There are several different stitches that are used to make the background. Which one you use depends on the look you want the finished piece to have.

Working this 'ground' was such a mystery to me. I just couldn't imagine how they did it and kept all the little leaves and flowers straight. I read somewhere that you pin the finished pieces to a cloth or piece of heavy paper and then crochet the background. But since I hold my crochet hook like a pencil I just couldn't imagine how you could do and keep all the motif's straight. And how could you crochet with with cloth or paper behind the flowers and leaves? I couldn't imagine how you'd crochet the background if you held the crochet hook 'like a knife' either. It just didn't make sense. How could you crochet with the motifs pinned or sewn down to cloth?

Over the years I've asked several people how to do it and no one knew how. The book wasn't that clear on how to work the background and it remained elusive until I found the most wonderful video by Ira Rott. It actually shows her working the ground and crocheting the motifs together! I was in heaven! It 'clicked' and I finally understood the concept. You can see her video on youtube at
She has two videos, one shows her working from a distance, but this one shows her hands up close as she works on the ground.

Now that the mystery was solved I could start learning how to work with the padding cord. Now that was a different story! Whew. It's not as easy as it sounds. Basically, you carry a thread, or several threads along and crochet over them. The cord can be pulled tight to create curves and other looks in a motif. At first it was so awkward. It took me a long time to get just a few inches finished.

Fortunately I found a wonderful yahoo group called Irish Crochet Lovers. They also have a sister group on Ravelry by the same name that has many of the same people in it. The Irish Crocheters there are all so nice and helpful. I've learned so much from these crocheters. I'm forever grateful to them. Roz, Eileen, Maire, Lori and Lily along with the other crocheters on Irish Crochet Lovers have all been so wonderful to help me along.

Lily has a blog spot where she shows some of her Irish Crochet work along with beautiful doilies and other crochet work. Her blog is Ms. Crochet. I've added a link to her site in the Links To Blogs section. We often do the same motifs and encourage each other to learn more.

I've done several single motifs and now I'm attempting my first multi-motif piece. I almost have all the parts finished now and all I have to do is make the vine and sew the motifs to the vine. I can't wait to get it finished. It will be great fun. I use size 10 crochet thread, which is very large for Irish Crochet so my finished product is going to be huge! But that's just fine with me. :) The books recommend size 70 thread. Yikes! But a lot of the crocheters I've met on the net use size 20 or size 40. I'm not brave enough yet to use such small thread. LOL

Pretty Irish Crochet Rose

I love these Irish Crochet roses! As I've surfed the internet I've found that there are various ways to make Irish Crochet roses. This is one that's in the Priscilla Irish Crochet Book 1. I really like it.

Actually, the very first Irish Crochet Rose I made was years ago from an Annie's Attic leaflet called Irish Crochet Jewelry. It had some really pretty jewelry made with Irish Crochet. I actually made my first rose out of yarn though instead of thread because at that time thread was just too small for me. I don't have a good picture of it, but it's made just a little bit differently than the one in the Priscilla book. The very center of the rose is raised and solid instead of having a ring in the center. They are both equally lovely!

My Original Priscilla Irish Crochet Book

Here's a picture of my original Priscilla Irish Crochet Book 1. It's over 100 years old! It was published in 1909! I found it in an antique store several years ago. It's starting to become very fragile so I don't use it now. I just take it out and look at it every now and then put it back on the shelf. It's one of my 'treasures'. :) I sometimes feel like Gollum in 'Lord Of The Rings' -- "My Precious!" mwahaha! Ahh er.. oops.. Sorry. LOL
I do have a reprinted book for every day use. In fact, it has three books in one. It's "Irish Crochet Lace Vol II published by Lacis. They have combined "'Priscilla Irish Crochet Book 1" by Lula M. Harvey, "Priscilla Irish Crochet Book 2" by Eliza A. Taylor, and "Irish Crochet Lace", by Sarah Hadley into one book. I love having all three books in one. You can find it at their website