The first time you see a piece of Irish crochet it's like magic. A fantastical collection of flowers, leaves, grape clusters, and lace joined with a complicated lattice of chain stitches—how do they create these projects?
Enter Máire Treanor. Máire began crocheting Clones lace, a form of Irish crochet, in 1987. Since then she has gathered information on the history of this amazing thread crochet technique. In her newest DVD, Irish Crochet & Clones Lace with Máire Treanor, she shares the history of both Irish crochet and Clones lace. She will also teach you how to create the Clones lace's basic knot, which joins the motifs, and a variety of traditional Clones lace motifs.
The Story of Clones Lace
Cassandra Hand introduced Irish crochet to the Clones area in 1847, after she arrived in Clones from Surrey, England, with her husband, the Reverend Thomas Hand. Horrified by the sight of people by the road, dying of starvation or disease, they decided to do what they could to alleviate this terrible poverty. Cassandra invited one of the Kildare crochet teachers to Clones to set up a crochet lacemaking school. The women of the Clones hinterland were excited by the use of the hook to re-create stylized flowers.
They could crochet a seven-inch piece in twenty hours, whereas the same-size piece would take at least three hundred hours to sew in needlepoint lace. They worked in groups, making it possible to crochet a large garment in a relatively short time. By 1850, there were more than 1,500 crocheters within a thirty-mile radius. The crocheters developed their own distinctive Clones lace-distinctive, in part, for the use of packing cord in the motifs, the Clones knot in the joining stitches, and motif designs unique to the Clones crocheters. . . .
Each family had their own special motif, or "bit," by which they became known. The Lily Quigleys made the lily motif, whereas the Rosie MacMahons crocheted the wild rose. The small rose (heart) was made by the children in the family, and the mother added the wider petals to the flower.
She might walk with her neighbors fifteen miles, over hills and down lanes, to the fair in Clones each Friday, exchanging the motifs she had made for items such as sugar, tea, material, or a hat for a child who crocheted some of the motifs. The buyer then gave a variety of motifs to another woman who joined them into a garment or collar.
— Maire Treanor (Interweave Crochet Fall 2011)
I am excited to learn the traditional Clones lace technique of building motifs around packing cord to create 3D lace and how to use a pattern template to create my own projects. Irish crochet still seems magical, but it a magic that I can create as well.
Purchase Irish Crochet and Clones Lace with Máire Treanor today and learn how to create your own Clones lace creations.
P.S. Have you ever crocheted Irish Lace; what tips and tricks did you learn? I'd love to hear about them below.