Saturday, March 17, 2012

Irish Lace Crochet

by Kelly

Today is St. Patrick's Day. For Americans, this is an excuse to go to an Irish bar and drink green beer and talk in a terrible Irish accent. Optional activities include singing traditional folk songs, punching friends, which celebrates the nineteenth century Irish bare-knuckle boxing tradition, and falling down stairs, which celebrates Irish stepdancing (a form of locomotion that requires the practitioner to preform intricate foot movements while staring into the middle distance with a fixed, goofy grin). The ironic part of the whole thing is that the Irish don't celebrate St. Patrick's day, and look oddly at Americans who do.

All this is probably a kind of salute to the fact that the Irish are believed to have invented whiskey.  Now, my husband and I have had both Guinness and whiskey (the Guinness in an English pub (yes, with an English pour) and the whiskey in a very nice Edinburgh restaurant that my husband and I were painfully under-dressed for) and we'd like to specifically not recommend them. They are not tasty.

So, are there other ways, aside from those listed above, to celebrate St. Patrick's day? Well, what else are the Irish known for? Aside from fiery tempers, potatoes, four-leaf clovers, and leprechauns, that is. Why, Irish Lace, of course! (You knew I'd get there eventually, didn't you?)

via Wikipedia

Irish Crochet Lace is made by crocheting tiny motifs like flowers, leaves, hearts, etc, then basting them onto paper or a ground fabric.  Then chains or picots are crocheted between the motifs, binding them all together. After you've done all that, you then cut the basting threads (which are usually in a different color so you can find them) and voila, you have a piece of lace.

For sheer eye candy, The History and Beauty of Irish Lace on HubPages can't be beat. The site is full of amazing pictures. If you're just looking for inspiration, check here first. Unfortunately, there don't seem to be links to sources or information, so the patterns will remain a mystery.

Hub Pages

Here's a  link to another site with hundreds of examples of motifs, also with no patterns.

Ah, but trusty comes through again -  here is a free starter pattern for an Irish Rose. They have a few other patterns too.

And since the patterns themselves are hard to find online, it may be time to look into print books.  Luckily, there are quite a few of these. There's a great one by Thérèse de Dillmont called Masterpieces of Irish Crochet Lace.

So if you decide to try your hand at Irish Lace Crochet, you may have your work cut out for you. Not only does it require thin thread and a teeny crochet hook, but it may be an uphill battle to find a pattern. However, with a little effort and a little luck, you just might make a bit of lace that will be treasured as an heirloom.


  1. Ay Lassie (don't know if that's Irish or Pirate actually :) Dan and I had a traditional St. Paddy's day of corned beef and cabbage, potatoes and beer - no Guiness - I agree it's nasty unless it's in Welsh Rarebit, which is delicious!

  2. I've heard about Welsh Rarebit, but never had it. And there's no reason not to speak Irish and Pirate together - Grace O'Malley was an Irish lass who went pirating. I only know this because I live with a pirate. Arr.


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