I was invited by Smallest Leaf of Small-Leaved Shamrock Blog to join her Blog Carnival about Irish Culture. Now, my dad does have red hair, and I do have green eyes, but as far as I know I do not have any Irish blood flowing through my veins. But as everyone who knows me can attest to, that would never stop me from participating!
My grandmother, Beatrice Cook Keesey, great granddaughter of John Brown, was a prolific crocheter. Her tiny crochet hook flew as she created IRISH Crochet tablecloths, bedspreads, and doilies out of fine, thin, cotton thread. Bedspreads made up of thousands of small squares, tablecloths made up of hundreds of small squares. The projects were protable – a ball of thread, a crochet hook, a small pair of scissors, and the pattern were all she needed to carry and work on the projects. Some patterns called for waiting until to end to sew or crochet the squares together, others called for attching squares together as they were created. She taught me how to read IRISH Crochet charts, and how to create the beautiful demensional lacework, but my creations never looked as perfect as hers always were.
IRISH Crochet is made up of very detailed, lace like crochet stitches. I own a pattern for a pincushion with 3inch Irish crochet square top. There are over 300 stitches required to complete it. The pattern does not have a picture, but I found a very similar one one line.
IRISH Crochet is done with a very small crochet hooks. I inheritated my grandmother’s hooks, and I love using them. I feel as if she is sitting next to me when I crochet with them.
The hooks range in size from OO which is 2.65 mm, and appears huge next to the 10 which is 1.15mm, and so small it looks like a toy.
Many IRISH Crochet patterns are deminsional – the roses are worked in layers, each rose petal standing up from the center – there patterns that have balls that look like pinecones – some of it is worked over cording to give it depth.
IRISH Crochet was done by Irish women during the potato famine as a way to make money. Charity groups offered free lessons and thread to young women so they could create items that could be sold and assist the family when times were hard. IRISH Crochet is so fine and so detailed that it is often mistaken for tatting. Some patterns call for individual mofits to be crocheted and then basted to a piece of cloth. Once all mofits are attached, chains were used to connect the mofits. Then the fabric backing is removed and what remains is beautiful handmade lace.