top of page

Irish Crochet - The History

I'm sure we've all seen incredibly intricate crochet lace. Though it looks complicated and unachievable, it's actually fairly simple and uses only a few crochet stitches. The trick is in the thickness of the yarn and assembly. Though I could go on and on about the technical aspects of this form of crochet, I really just want to talk a bit about its history at the moment.

In the early to mid-1800s, when Ireland was going through a financial hardship and famine, this form of crochet lace-making was introduced. This art form is meant to imitate expensive and time-consuming Veniacian lace. It was taught to women in convents all over the country and soon became a true cottage industry.

Women specialized in particular motifs or final assembly. Their patterns and techniques were heavily guarded secrets as the livelihoods of their families depended on it. Some women made leaves, some flowers, some would gather all of them and fashion them into capes, shawls, parasols, gloves and even gowns. The ornate designs skyrocketed into popularity all around the world. Women managed to hold shit together with their skills and ingenuity.

In the 20th century, fashion changed and moved away from overly embellished designs. With the gilded aged at its end, the two world wars and market crash, there were other things on people's minds, I suppose. Irish crochet was so out of favor that it was almost lost entirely. Luckily for us, it did indeed survive! Perhaps I will make a few tutorials if you are interested. Let me know in the comments below.

Irish crochet is experiencing a bit of a revival these days. One can find quite a few examples of it on the runway. I think it's wonderful! Even if I cannot afford to buy such luxurious items, it gives me much inspiration for potential projects. Here are some looks from 2020 collections.

If you're in Ireland or planning to go there, check out this little museum/shop in Bellanalecke. You will have to book your visit in advance as it is open by appointment only. There you can purchase antique lace and explore over 400 pieces on display.

On Women's Day please remember how many lives were saved with this craft by amazing, talented women of years past. It also wouldn't hurt to acknowledge women in our time making the world more beautiful with their crafty skills.

Here's to us ladies! The crafty bitches that we are!

bottom of page