Thinking Outside the Box with Vintage Crochet Patterns

Jul 19, 2012

What is crochet lace to you? Is it a delicate edging or an elegant shawl? Is it worked in tiny thread or lace-weight alpaca?

Crochet Shawl in Omega Pattern, Weldon's Practical Crochet Second Series 

I am currently fascinated by the lace crochet patterns that were printed in Weldon's in the 1800s. Weldon's says of their publication, "In an effort to bring needlework to the emerging middle class, Weldon's, a paper pattern producer of the Victorian era, began to publish monthly newsletters devoted to various crafts (beading, knitting, crochet, patchwork, and the like). These newsletters were typically 14 pages and cost 2 pence. Later, they were collected into book form, titled Weldon's Practical Needlework." These vintage patterns then underwent another transformation when they were reprinted in digital eBooks.

The lace patterns published by Weldon's in the 1800s held few preconceived notions of what the final piece should look like. The patterns provided basic pattern information and include a sketch of either the project or a swatch of the project, but they leave a good deal of the creation up to you.

I love the beginning sentence of the Crochet Shawl in Omega Pattern. It says, "Procure Shetland or Andalusian wool of the colour preferred, and in sufficient quantity for the size of the shawl." A sketch of the swatch gives you a basic idea of the look of the main body of the shawl as well as the intricate edging. The text shawl pattern begins by instructing you to work a chain for the required length.

Crochet D'Oyley, Weldon's Practical Crochet Seventh Series

Some may see these vintage patterns as too difficult to follow or are intimidated by the sparsely written instructions. I love these patterns. They are inspiration. You are not tied to creating a replica of the sample. How do you imagine your lace shawl? Is it a shawlette to be worn for a special occasion, a large shawl meant for both warmth and beauty; or will you think a little outside of the box and create an amazing afghan?

The Crochet D'Oyley is another vintage 1800s pattern I find particularly inspiring. This pattern, originally published by Weldon's, is an exquisite example of a vintage doily worked in cotton thread. I'd like to try it in a worsted-weight yarn for a circular lace afghan or perhaps an eye-catching floor rug.

So let your imagination tell you what to crochet as you explore lace patterns popular in the 1800s. Within the pages of Weldon's you will also find hairpin crochet, bead crochet, crocheted garments, and more. Download the Weldon's crochet series today!

Best wishes,

P.S. Have you ever been inspired by vintage patterns? I would love to hear about it below.


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RuthC@32 wrote
on Jul 19, 2012 11:22 AM

I regularly use Vintage patterns for the items I make for my Etsy shop, Scarletrabbit...I love "reinventing" them as pieces to wear---my most recent cuff and choker set starting out as an edging insert!

If you are willing to experiment with these old patterns you will be delighted with what you create once you get past the challenge of how they are written. Sometimes you have to rip out what you make and start again, but what you end up with is beautiful.

Char55 wrote
on Jul 19, 2012 2:29 PM

I love the look of lacework, but am afraid I wouldn't have the patience  (or the eyesight) for such delicate work.

A beautiful example was posted recently in the CrochetMe Forums. The poster said that it was a 1917 pattern that had been reprinted in a magazine. She did a wonderful job!

The link to see the beautiful result is:

Nancy Mills wrote
on Aug 13, 2012 10:19 AM

I love Weldon's!! And upon occassion I find a vintage magazine tucked away in a used bookstore or antique shop. Other wise I collect the vintage work I discover and take it home to love, enjoy and ... COPY!!

I have two very delicate dolies that are framed and also framed three pieces my grandparents made - one from about 1940 called Pond Lily, and the others about 1910.

The delicacy of the work amazes me - I feel clumsy next to the dolies my grandfather made as a wedding gift to my grandmother from sewing thread while he was in the Army.

I want to carry on this tradition - and it is a passion for me.

on Feb 14, 2013 12:12 AM

Hi ! I love vintage crochet and purchased the Weldon's seventh serie, hoping I would find the pattern for that beautiful "out of square" doiley. Unfortunately I can't spot it in the book. English is not my mother tongue, so maybe I'm confused... I would be very grateful if f someone has the ebook and could indicate me where is the pattern of the doiley

Thanks !