Monday, April 14, 2014

Great Grandma's Embroidered Lace

This is a picture of my Great Grandma. Her name was Marian Bell Anderson. She was born on January 17, 1864. The eyelet lace pictured at the bottom of the post was made by Great Grandma as part of her trousseau. In 1885 she was 21 years old, living on the frontier of Idaho and preparing to get married to Olaf Anderson in November. Marian and Olaf lived in the area of Rexburg, Idaho for the rest of their lives. I am just amazed at the skill that went into this embroidery and the amount of time it must have taken Grandma. I'm certainly glad some of her talent passed into my own hands.

My grandmother, Irene Anderson Clements was a devoted genealogist and wrote a history of  her own life and the lives of her parents and other ancestors. It is a blessing to me to know so much about my father's family. Grandma wrote this about her mother, Marian and the lace:

"Mother liked all kinds of hand work. It is hard to say what she liked best. She enjoyed making quilts. She made many, from heavy camp quilts, to fancy embroidered and silk quilts. The Relief Society does a lot of quilting and she was anxious to help. She soon became known as one of the most skillful quilters, and was made head of this department on work day at Relief Society. Then as she was particular and liked to have things just right, she became an almost perfect marker especially for the most complicated patterns. Her fame spread all over town and some expensive quilts were brought to her to be marked by well-to-do people, some she scarcely knew. They were glad to have her mark the quilts, even though it was impossible for her to help with the quilting. It would be hard to estimate the number of quilts that she helped quilt and also quilted alone.

She enjoyed knitting very much. She knit hose for her father, brothers and sisters, husband, children and grandchildren. She knit many pairs of gloves and mittens, also a number of sweaters. She especially was good at making knitted lace. Every one who has some of her knitted lace prizes it very highly. In her early married life she knitted a full sized bed spread with no. 8 thread. She did crochet work. She was an expert at dressmaking, etc. Besides the sewing for family and friends that she mentions in her history, she did most of the sewing for her children and helped as long as she could with sewing for her grandchildren.

She enjoyed making fancy pillows, pin cushions, and any other knick knack that she saw. She made a variety of rugs. In fact, she was always interested in new patterns and ideas. She watched for ways to use material she had on hand to make her family more comfortable and her home more attractive.

At the time of her marriage, it was popular to do eyelet embroidery in lingerie, household linens, baby clothes, etc. Her skill with the needle is shown by the petticoat she made to wear when she was married. This petticoat was 37 inches long, 90 inches wide and gathered onto a band at the waist that was 26 inches long. It fastened with a button and button hole. She embroidered a scalloped flounce which was 9 inches wide at the scallop. Then she made five groups of tucks, two in each group, arranged above the flounce. This scallop is one of 18 cut from that petticoat. Mother wore this petticoat until it was worn out."

Because I know what it takes to embroider even the simplest eyelet, I am in awe that Grandma embroidered eighteen of these scallops on a garment that would never even be seen! She is my handwork hero!

Thursday, April 10, 2014

"Garden Series" Crochet Edgings: #3-Jonquils

I love this third edging. "Jonquils" is a little more difficult, but not much. The picot stitches on top of the double crochets remind me of the ruffled heads of jonquils on long thin stems, hence the name.

Note: The front and back of crochet stitches look different, as you would expect. I want the smooth front side of the double crochet in this edging to show on the front of the towel, so I am careful to begin the foundation row with the back side of the towel facing me. If mark the towel and start on the back, I'll be ready to turn the towel and do Row 1 on the front. Row 2 shows the back of the picot stitches, but I think it is prettier to show the front of the double crochet. It may not matter at all to you which side of which row shows...

Again, you'll begin the Foundation Row as in the Garden Fence edging. Use a washable marking pen to mark 3/8-inch marks across the edge. Push an embroidery awl through the first mark to make a tiny hole. Pull up the thread and make the first slip knot. Chain 4. (Use the awl to make several more holes at the marks. Stay ahead of your crochet about 8-10 holes.) *Sc, ch 3 in the next mark. Repeat from * across. (See the pictures in the tutorial at the link above if you need help with pictures of this foundation row.)

Row 1: Ch 1; turn. Sc in the first ch-3 space. Ch 3, 4 dc in next ch-3 space. Ch 3, sc in the next ch-3 space. [Ch 3, 4 dc in next ch-3 space. Ch 3, sc in next ch-3 space] across, ending with the sc in the end space.

Row 2: Ch 3 and turn. Skip the ch-3 space. Sc in the first dc of group of 4 dc. Ch 3, sc in next dc. Ch 3, sc in next dc. Ch 3, sc in last dc of group. Ch 3, skip ch-3 space, sc in next sc.  Repeat [Ch 3, skip ch-3 space, sc in first dc. (Ch 3, sc in next dc) three times. Ch 3, skip ch-3 space, sc in sc] across. Fasten off. Weave in ends.

Hopefully, the following pictures expand the directions for Row 2.

Monday, April 7, 2014

"Garden Series" Crochet Edgings: #2-Posies

This is the second thread crochet edging in my Garden Series. "Posies" has just two rows with a very simple scallop. Prepare the towel and begin the Foundation Row as in the Garden Fence Edging. Use a washable marking pen to mark 3/8-inch marks across the edge. Push an embroidery awl through the first mark to make a tiny hole. Pull up the thread a make the first slip stitch on the hook. Chain 4. Use the awl to make several more holes at the marks. (Stay ahead of your crochet about 8-10 holes). *(Sc, ch 3) in the hole at the next mark. Repeat from * across. (See the first part of the tutorial at the above link if you need pictures for this foundation row.)

Row 1: Ch 3; turn. 2 dc in first ch-3 space. Ch 1, (3 dc, ch 1) in each ch-3 space across. Ch 1; turn.

Row 2: Skip next dc. Sc in middle dc. [Skip next dc, 3 dc in ch-1 space, skip dc, sc in middle dc] across to last stitch. Sc in last stitch. Fasten off. Weave in ends.

"Jonquils" is the third edging in this Garden Series. Watch for it in the next couple of days.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

"Garden Series" Crochet Edgings: #1-The Garden Fence

This edge is quite similar to the crocheted edge on the gingham towels in the last post, but is crocheted directly onto the towel and is narrower in width. The benefit of crocheting directly onto the towel is that the process is much quicker than making the lace and hand-sewing it on. A sad fact is that the lace will be discarded along with the worn-out towel. Crocheted lace is extremely durable and will far outlast the towel, but the process of unpicking hand stitching, fitting the lace to a new towel and then re-sewing the lace by hand may truly be more work than most people would find time for. So, I simply use patterns that are quick to crochet and try to remember that my work will bring happiness during the time in use and let go. The stitch used in this edging is double crochet which goes very fast for me. It reminds me of the pretty wire fencing around our front yard.

Garden Fence Edging:

Foundation Row: Use a washable marking pen to mark 3/8-inch marks across the edge. Push an embroidery awl through the first mark to make a tiny hole.

Pull up the thread and make the first slip knot. Chain 4.


(Use the awl to make several more holes at the marks. Stay ahead of your crochet about 8-10 holes.) *Sc, ch 3 in the next mark. Repeat from * across, ending with a sc in the last hole.

Row 1: Ch 3; turn. 2 dc in the next ch-3 space, ch 1. (3 dc, ch 1) in each ch-3 space across to last space. 3 dc in last space. Ch 3; turn.

Row 2: 2 dc in next 2 dc, ch 1. Skip next ch-1 space. 3 dc in next 3 dc, ch 1. Repeat [Skip next ch-1 space. 3 dc in next 3 dc, ch 1] across to last group of three dc. 3 dc in last 3 dc; turn.

Row 3: Skip next dc, dc in next dc, ch 2, dc in same dc. Sc in next ch-1 space. Repeat [Skip next dc, dc in next dc, ch 2, dc in same dc. Sc in next ch-1 space] across to last group of three dc. Skip next dc, (dc in next dc, ch 2, dc in same dc). Sc in last dc. Fasten off. Weave in ends.

I have two more edging patterns designed for this set of towels. Check back for these tutorials next week.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

A Peek Inside - Lace Edged Gingham Towels

 Although I'm showing them last, these pretty gold gingham hand towels were made for the hope chest in the early spring of 2006 - eight years ago! They have just been waiting for the rest of the set to be finished and I am glad that it is, finally. I love how the crocheted lace looks on the edge. I think they really might be too pretty for the kitchen. Thankfully, the lace was made on a foundation chain, so it can be removed when the towels wear out and re-sewn onto new towels. Honestly, I don't have towels this pretty in my kitchen...In fact, now that I think about it, I really should take a break from the hope chest and make myself some pretty towels. Nope, can't do it. One of these days, perhaps...

Monday, February 10, 2014

Tutorial - Crocheted Towel Tender

This is a towel tender. It was designed to button over the oven door handle and hold a thick terry kitchen towel. I wanted enough room to change the towel without unbuttoning the tender. I made a couple of these to match the hand towels in the Floral set for Abigail's hope chest and wanted to include the pattern here. Depending on the relative thickness of the towels you might wish to tend, and the design of your oven handle, the foundation chain may be shortened or lengthened by 2 chains. You'll need just scraps of two colors of yarn, a size "G" crochet hook, and a 5/8-inch to 3/4-inch button. BTW, the pink flower button on the left is from a set of overalls that I sewed for Miss Abigail when she was a toddler. She certainly won't remember it, but I have some pleasure knowing she will take even such a little thing from her childhood with her when she leaves home.

Crocheted Towel Tender

Foundation & Row 1: Leaving a six-inch tail, chain 29. Hdc in second ch from hook and in each ch across. (28 hdc).

Row 2: Ch 3. Crossing over, hdc in chain opposite of last hdc. Hdc opposite each hdc across. (28 hdc).

Ch 3, join with sl st in top of opposite hdc. Fasten off and weave in this tail.

Row 3: With second color, join with a chain-3 in top of first hdc. [Skip next stitch, sl st in next stitch. Ch 3] across to end. Sl st in ch 2 space at end of row. Ch 3. sl st in same space, ch 3. Sl st in next hdc. Ch 3. Repeat between [ ] across to last hdc. Skip next hdc. Sl st in chain space at end of row. Ch 3, sl st in same space. Ch 3, sl st in bottom of beginning ch-3. Fasten off and weave in ends.


To finish, use the tail of the beginning chain to loosely sew on 5/8-inch or 3/4-inch button. The chain-3 space at the opposite end of the towel tender works as the button hole.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Tutorial - Modified Swedish Weaving

Swedish Weaving is a classic technique for embellishing tea towels for the hope chest. Swedish Weaving traditionally uses embroidery floss to decorate the borders of huck tea towels. Due to the unique nature of the vertical thread “floats” in the huck weave, the stitching shows only on the top of the piece. If you turn the towel over, there are no threads showing on the back. Usually, the designs for Swedish Weaving are mirror images, both top to bottom and side to side. This technique became quite popular in the 1940's, and you might still find many examples of these beautiful towels in antique stores.

Unfortunately, huck towels are hard to come by and the fabric for huck toweling is also somewhat hard to find. Luckily, the small waffle weave microfiber towels available today lend themselves well to thread weaving techniques. So these towels give me an opportunity to modify the technique of Swedish Weaving. Because the waffle weave is different than the huck weave, the same design on a waffle weave towel will spread a bit more openly than on a huck towel. But I think the result is still lovely.

The design begins in the center of the towel and is worked one row at a time from the middle out to each end. For this pattern, cut six 40-inch lengths of embroidery floss. You'll use all six strands together, so don't separate them. I used Perle cotton (size 5) for these towels. Thread a #24 tapestry (blunt) embroidery needle. Identify the middle “ vertical float” on the towel to begin the design.

When I refer to a vertical float, I am intending the threads that rise to form the tops of the waffles and that run vertically in the weave. If you catch the tops of these threads, the colored floss will follow through and lay atop the threads at the bottom of the waffles, making a perfect running stitch until you move up with a “slant stitch.” The combination of running stitches and slant stitches create the design.

Stitches are made always from the right to the left (or always left to right if you are left handed). This consistency is very important. A slant stitch is made by moving up two rows and catching the stitch indicated, again always from the right side of the threads. Follow the pattern, beginning at the bottom middle of the pattern, indicated by the arrow. Working right to left, catch the two floats indicated and pull the thread through the floats until you have an even amount of thread on both sides of the float. Each row of stitching will begin in this same way, with an even amount of thread on both sides of the middle. Immediately form a slant stitch two rows up from the starting point and directly above the left stitch. Please note that I'm giving these directions as a right-handed individual. If you are left handed, simply think opposite – left to right.

Continue to work the first (bottom) row of the pattern across to the left side of the towel, repeating the same pattern across. Do not cut the floss end.

Now come back to the middle, re-thread the remaining floss. Turn both the towel and the pattern upside down. Continue to work the first row (now the top row on the pattern) to the opposite side of the towel. Look carefully at the row to catch any mistakes. Do not cut the floss end.

Follow the chart to stitch all the rows in the design. Always begin at the center of the row and work right to left. Do not cut and finish the ends until the design is complete. You will see the wisdom of this instruction the first time you find a mistake and have to pull out the row (or rows) to correct the mistake. It is also tempting to begin at the side instead of the middle. One important reason for working from the middle is that the slanted threads are not as easily distorted and seem to lay prettier. Also, the threads are not worn out from being pulled through so many times. And, there isn't as much to pull out if you make a mistake.

After all the rows are stitched, again check the design for mistakes and correct any mistakes that you see. With some designs, mistakes are hard to see until the pattern is finished, or nearly so. Don't feel discouraged by mistakes. The stitches are easily pulled out and then you have the fun of weaving them in again!

Now you'll need to address all those floss ends. There are a couple of ways to finish the ends. With each thread end, take a small back stitch in the side hem or into the serged edge and bury the thread along the edge of the towel. Clip the thread and tug the end back into the hem. If there is a side hem on the towel, simply run the thread through the fabric and come out at the side edge. Do this with each of the thread ends and then machine stitch from the top of the rows to the bottom approximately ¼-inch from the side edge. This stitching will secure the threads. Clip floss ends as close as possible to the towel.

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