1930s | 1940s | Accessories

Irish Lace

October 4, 2014

Technically not sewing, but it’s from a vintage pattern, and I know there are some other knitters/crocheters on here who I thought might like to see this.

In what little time I have to sew and knit lately, I’ve managed to grab a few moments here and there to ย work on a new sort of project for me. A couple of years ago a good friend gifted me with a pretty massive stack of vintage and antique crochet and knitting books, ranging in age from about 1915 to the 1950s. The vast majority of them are crocheted lace patterns (plus one KILLER 1930s knitting book, which I’ve got plans for later this winter), and while I’ve never been much of a crocheter, some of these lace patterns are just too pretty for me not to try my hand at it.

I decided to try and stick with something fairly simple for my first go ’round, so I picked this fabulous Irish lace jabot pattern. There is no dat on the pattern, but I’m guessing it’s from around 1940. It has taken me MONTHS (ok, honestly I have no idea when I started this thing, but if feels like eons ago) to finish this thing. Mostly since I only had little bits of time here and there to work on it, and even then I couldn’t work for very long in a sitting because it started to make my hand cramp after a while. Maybe this should tell me something about my tension?

1940s crocheted irish lace jabot ruffle

1940s crocheted irish lace jabot ruffle

A lot of these patterns call for size 50 crochet cotton, but I had a hard enough time finding 30 anywhere. I’m seriously doubting whether 50 even still exists, but it seriously has to be about the size of hand-quilting thread because the 30 is pretty darn tiny. Anyhoo, this pattern was not only simple, but it was one of the few that called for 30 to begin with, so I guess it was kismet. After the foundation rows the jabot is worked back and forth in a “U” around the center, building outward in a series of simple 7-chain loops. The final three rows are done with an alternating 7-chain loop and double crochet shell. I was kind of winging it on the final rows, since I couldn’t tell from the picture exactly what the edging was supposed to look like. In theory, this is right. Either way it looks pretty, so who cares, right? The entire piece is about 18 inches long, and gets folded in half when worn. I have no ideas what I’m actually going to wear it with since almost all of my clothes have “V” or scoop necks, but I’ll figure something out. It’s just too awesome not to wear.

1940s crocheted irish lace jabot ruffle

I still need to hit it with a little bit of starch to get the ruffles to hold really well, but overall I’m really happy. I’d say for a first lace project it was a success. Has anyone else been trying their hand at something new lately? I’m always keen to learn new skills (because I clearly don’t have enough projects already). Even if I only end up doing something once I can at least say that I have.

  1. Gorgeous! I wish I could crochet, particularly lace! I can knit, but try as I might, I never can remember when to insert the hook (and where!) and when to loop the thread. Ends up in a knot! :^) This is lovely and I too have a stash of old magazines and patterns that I love to look at and mine for ideas. I think the style looks mid/late 30’s but you should wear it in whatever style you’d like. Good Job!

  2. For a first project that is nothing if not miraculous.

    But no, I often find that what I can FIND for vintage crochet projects often creates a project several times larger than the picture.

    Which hand had the problems? If it’s your hook hand, remember that the way to hold a hook is NOT like a pencil, but to have the line of the hook mimic the line of the upper arm bones, as it goes through the center of your palm (does that make sense?) and that the motion is not stabbing, but you rotate your wrist while moving your arm forward. This allows you to keep your wrist and hand and upper arm in a flat position and doesn’t strain your wrist.

    If it’s your yarn hand that has the tension, look into different ways to hold the yarn. I hold it TERRIBLY by wrapping it around my first finger once, and then holding it to my palm with the other three fingers. Massive tension problems for my hand, but I have trouble getting the right yarn tension otherwise. My grandmother wraps it three times around her index finger and that’s all the control she needs. So look into alternatives.

    And always always always craft with your hands in a good-wrist position, keeping it flat and straight. No force on a bent wrist! Take it from someone with musician’s hands, aka massive amounts of tendonitis.

    1. Thank you, Tegan! I get it in both hands, but more so in the hook hand. I’ll have to pay more attention to how I’m holding things. Thanks for the tips! I played the viola for years and used to be much more in tune with how I used my hands/wrists, but have gotten very lax lately.

  3. I love it! Beautiful work!

    I taught myself to knit Friday before yesterday. I only have knit and purl down, but its so nice to try something new, and to have something I can do sitting in front of the TV- BF doesn’t always choose the best movies by my tastes! LOL

    1. Thank you! I can’t just sit and watch TV without working on something. I feel like my couch sitting is justifiable if I’m being productive while I veg out ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. The tension in your crochet is amazingly even, but it sounds like the cost to your body, ouch. I used to knit and crochet a lot, but then ran into major wrist/arm overuse problems. What worked for me (don’t laugh!) was doing some strength training. I was silly and went to an athlete-type store and asked the bulky man to help me weight train so I could knit longer, and that actually worked, once he got over me asking. However, I learned from what he showed me that all I really needed was some small cans of soup.

    You put your arm on a chair or couch arm with a square-ish bend, so your wrist is supported, but your hand is off the end. Your elbow should be bent at a right angle. You hold the can of soup and slowly raise the soup and then lower it, as far as it will comfortably go in both directions. Only do it 5 ups and downs at a time, especially at first. As your arms get stronger (and therefore protect your wrists better), you can do it a few more times. You can also increase by lifting a heavier can. Repeat on the other side.

    Be sure to stretch before and after by putting your arm *straight out in front of you* at shoulder height and using your other hand to stretch your wrist by *gently* pressing your fingers up & back toward your shoulder and the back of your palm down and toward your underarm.

    Worked like a dream for me, and now I can comfortably knit and crochet (and hem a circle skirt by hand) again. Hope it works for you!

    1. Thank you! I’m going to really try and force myself to be better about stretching (hands and the rest of me). All the handwork and toddler carrying is really starting to take a toll on me. I never thought about strength training helping. I’ll have to try it!

  5. Wow… I’m really impressed with your jabot. It must have been SO much work…
    I taught myself to crochet a couple of years ago but I haven’t done a lot of it since. I have some crochet lace patterns from the 1940’s and 1950’s but I’ve always been way too intimidated by those to even try.
    Oh, and I know what you mean about the yarn size. So many vintage patterns use such thin thread. In knitting patterns, the ‘normal’ yarn size from 1950 is now only available as wool for baby-clothes or socks…

  6. Actually your tension looks quite even, especially for a beginner! Another thing you might try, is wrapping the shaft (handle part) of the crochet hook with bandage-tape – not the sticky kind; there’s an elasticated stuff, softer than an Ace bandage, used to hold gauze pads on a wound when the skin is too delicate for adhesives . . . a pharmacist would be able to identify it for you, I’m sorry, I can’t remember the name.
    For a way to wear your jabot (and you should, it’s lovely) you could make a dickie to wear under a V-neck blouse/sweater/suit jacket. Very period-correct, BTW.
    Size 50 thread IS still available but you’ll probably have to mail-order it.
    CAVEAT:: I haven’t ordered from either of these sources; they’re just what I found on a web-search. And basically you get shades of white/cream/beige. Hello, RIT, except that white lace seems to be more historically-accurate anyway.. Weirdly, size 70 (aka tatting cotton) can be much easier to find, at your local yarn or needlework shop.

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