Although I didn’t learn knitting from any of my grandmas who did fiberwork, I do come by it honestly, and on my visit to the family homestead in April, Mom let me pick out some samples of my great-grandma Delphia’s needlework to keep. I’ve yet to branch out from knitting, but if anything is going to inspire me to finally learn my way around a crochet hook, this is the stuff.
“Basic” doilies in a variety of patterns and colors:
I love the way the variegated yarn brings dimension to the pansies–this is one of my favorites.
There are more unusual pieces–doesn’t this pink and white dresser set have a very modern feel?
And this square of candlelight lace is just luscious:
There are some spectacular samples of tatting:
The lace insets in this runner make me think of rose windows:
There are mysteries, too, like this embellished towel:
What technique is this? Is it a variant on crochet? A kind of knotwork? I’ve never seen anything like it.
The most beautiful and intricate piece was one I didn’t get to bring home, because it has pride of place in Mom’s home:
If I want one of these for my own–and I do–I’m going to have to get crackin’ on my crochet skills.
Some of these pieces are fragile, as you’d expect of century-old lace, and will need to be conserved carefully. The tatted snowflake, for example, is destined for a secure retirement framed behind glass. Many of them are surprisingly sturdy, though–with a gentle cleaning, several of them could go right back into daily service on dressers and tabletops.
One of the things I like most about these works is the sense they give me of my great-grandma’s personality. I was lucky to grow up knowing her–she passed on when I was 22–but I knew her mostly as a stern, intimidating figure. It’s interesting to have these delicate, colorful bits of creativity as hints to what might have delighted and pleased her.