Storytelling with Crochet

Dec 19, 2011

Crochet is captivating in its beauty. Hundreds of little stitches are combined in millions of possible arrangements to create a final a final work of art, whether it is a lace collar of intricate thread crochet or a simple hat to keeps a child's ears warm.

In our enjoyment of its beauty, it is sometimes easy to forget that each piece of crochet carries with it it own story, and that story can be just as beautiful as the piece itself.

The Fan Edging on this elegant baby pillow (at left) is breathtaking. The intricate thread lace is worked with a size 13 steel crochet hook, and each fan consists of 24 rows of tiny stitches. My mind is spinning with ideas. Wouldn't this be lovely at the edge of a sleeve or the hem of a dress? Luckily inspiration doesn't have to contemplate the hours of crochet needed to create the yards of lace I would need.

Bart Elwells adapted this edging pattern from a pillowcase created by Mary Rebecca Spagnola, who passed away while her children were still young. And it was Mary's needlework and crochet that led her granddaughter Rosemarie on a journey to discover Mary's story including how her gift at crochet had helped to support her family during the 1930s and early 1940s.

Another one of my favorites is the Orenburg Lace Shawl. This motif based project is a stunning work of art. But until I saw this shawl in the page of PieceWork I had no idea about the story of the goats of Orenburg. Orenburg goats, from which cashmere is derived, live near the southern tip of the Ural Mountains. White and gray are the most common fiber colors due to a fashion trend that led to breeding away from the brown that was seen as common. Due to this misguided breeding, brown cashmere is rare, but some Orenburg goats still produce this rare shade.

The story each piece of crochet tells is as beautiful as the project itself. Learn the stories behind crochet with a subscription to PieceWork magazine.

Best wishes,

P. S. We would love to here your crochet stories.

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on Dec 19, 2011 12:22 PM

My grandmother crocheted not just afghans, but doilies, baskets and bowls. I can remember her crocheting with her eyes closed as if she were crocheting in her sleep. For color, she would add a bright red thread at the top rim of her baskets or bowls. To strengthen the baskets and bowls, she used a sugar starch.

Somehow my sisters and I figured out the sugar starch...we were very young, so who knows how this happened. All I know is what my mother remembered, which was how she used to bust us sucking on the crocheted bowls/baskets. Never caught in the act, but by the red dye around our mouths!

We were scolded constantly and warned to stay away from my grandmother's crocheted items, but like a siren song, we were drawn to the sugar. Until we were about 4, we had the reddest mouths and my grandmother had the limpest baskets and bowls.


CdM wrote
on Dec 20, 2011 10:20 AM

You might be interested in this photo of a piece of autobiographical crochet made in 1916 ( by an Adelaide Hall.  I haven't been able to find out any more about it, but it fascinates me.  I wonder who she was.  How did she construct it.  Why did she construct it and what did it mean to her.  It is art and history all rolled into one small square.  Elegant, yet quaint.  Powerful in its simplicity.

It haunts me.  I wish I knew where it was and who had it on display and if Adelaide did more pieces.  I will be digging into this more.


CdM wrote
on Dec 20, 2011 10:26 AM

Found out who she was:

If you are interested.  8-)


CdM wrote
on Dec 20, 2011 10:40 AM

Sorry, I tried to post this, but I got an error message.  I was able to find an article that gives the history of Adelaide V. Hall.  Very interesting.


abarrera26 wrote
on Dec 20, 2011 9:21 PM

I can tell you I have a family thanks to crochet. My grandfather died when my grandma was barely 30, with three children and one on the way. My grandpa's business partner tricked her and cheated her of her monetary part of the business. She found herself out of her home and the things she loved. But being a strong woman, she put to work the only skill she had learned at an early age: crocheting.

She started making doilies, runners, tableclothes and bedspreads and selling them in several stores. She taught my mom, my aunt and even my uncle how to crochet, so they all worked of small pieces that she would later  arranged into finished projects. They survived. I grew up with beautiful pieces on the beds and furniture. My mom, a dress maker and designer, would try to incorporate crochet in the dresses she designed. I am sorry that I couldn't bring those pieces when I came from Cuba. Just a collar in a blouse, my first one, made with 4 strands of sewing thread because we couldn't find any other crocheting thread to buy.  I remember being very little when my mom taught me to "chain." And from that moment I was "hooked!"

Denise@242 wrote
on Dec 24, 2011 9:04 AM

I learned to crochet at age 11, a friend of my mother's taught be to make granny squares.  Recently a family member returned the 1st granny square afgan that I made for my mother out of bits and pieces of left over and donated yarn. Being brought up my a seamstress mother I was taught to make things that last and never leave a thread hanging! I'm proud to say that my 1st blanket has lasted 40 years and was with my mother as she died.

Now I supplement my income with wire and bead crochet - funny that I had just told a customer that each piece is a story in its self. The first piece am proud of is the Dragonfly Bracelet made after going to the creek by my house with my young son. Here is a link to a picture and the story behind the bracelet: