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


The very first motif I ever made with thread was a beautiful Irish Crochet leaf. I just love this little leaf. It's made by crocheting in the back loop only which gives it raised ridges.

Irish Crochet

I've been learning Irish Crochet for the past few months and there are some absolutely beautiful butterflies in some of the vintage Irish Crochet Books. I hope to make a few of them someday. :) But for right now I'm learning the basics and making some of the motifs out of the Priscilla Irish Crochet Book 1 and Priscilla Irish Crochet Book 2 and a few other vintage books. They are in public domain now and you can find them and other vintage books free in pdf format at the Antique Pattern Library.

I hope to post more soon. :)

Why "Prettyflies"?

My great-grandaughter is only 1 1/2 years old and her word for butterflies is 'prettyflies'. I really love the sound of it so I decided to use the name for my blog.