Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Old Crochet, Tatting and Embroidery Pattern Books

My mum taught me to knit and crochet when I was young. And back in the late sixties, early seventies crochet because a useful craft, because crocheted dresses and smocks were very much in fashion. Somewhere among my vast quantities of books (every room in this house has books in it!) there are my mum's old Stitchcraft Pattern Books - she used to buy the magazine, and had them bound together. Just glancing at them takes me back to a more innocent but - for me, anyway - very happy time. My mum could knit, embroider, sew and crochet and the clothes she made for me back then, some of which I still have tucked away, were the envy of all my friends. In fact I wore the pink crocheted smock (below) which she made for me back in the very early 70s, to a 1960s party only a couple of years ago!


Sometimes, I'll find a bundle of old pattern books at the bottom of a box of vintage linens and I'm currently listing some of these in three lots, in The Scottish Home on eBay. Some of them are instructions for tatting, which I find very pretty, but still don't know how to do. Many of them are for crochet doilies, edgings, gorgeous filet crochet trims for tablecloths - I recognise some of the patterns from various items of old linen and lace which I have listed over the years. And some of them are wonderful survivals from the 1930s,  paper transfers for all kinds of embroideries, including instructions for Mountmellick embroidery.

The ads at the back of these booklets are fabulous. 'Every lady knows the pleasure derived from the making of dainty underwear, the embroidery of which is enhanced by using Briggs Trousseau Pure Silk, for fine embroidery on underclothing,' says one. How times have changed! There are ads for Old Bleach linens from Ireland, 'bleached by the sun' and for wool from Templeton's Mill in Ayr, sadly long gone.

I love ephemera such as these - they are the kind of things that transport you straight back to the past. You can read as many history books as you like, but nothing beats the immediacy of these booklets that recreate so vividly a world we have lost.

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