American vs. European Crochet Terms

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In an online world where eBay, Amazon, and Pinterest have made finding unique crochet lace patterns so much easier, it’s important to realize, not all patterns speak the same language.

I first came up against this issue when I was making a beautiful rose motif in an old 1920 magazine reprint from the Lacis Museum of Lace.  It was a beautiful Irish lace piece.  I was in love!  But no matter how many times I started, for the life of me, my rose and the “Rose of Sharon” did not match!  That was when I learned a very important lesson.  American patterns are different from European patterns.  It’s not a hard difference to learn, but they are different.

What are the differences between American and European Crochet?

American Crochet Terms UK Crochet Terms
Single crochet Double crochet
Half double crochet Half treble crochet
Double crochet Treble crochet
Treble crochet Double treble crochet
Double treble crochet Triple treble crochet
Gauge Tension
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Many modern patterns will specify which type of pattern they are using. Books will have a stitch guide in the front or back as a reference detailing exactly what each of their standard stitches is meant to look like. However, as a rule of thumb if you’re using 1920 or earlier lace patterns or Irish lace patterns, take special note.

If you’re still in doubt with an ambiguous, gorgeous, must-have pattern, this is the biggest tip– European patterns do not use sc. If the pattern calls for single crochet, you know it’s an American style crochet pattern.

“Use Your Best, and You’ll Always Have Your Best Left”

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When I married, my mother-in-law made me a sheet set with beautiful handmade lace edgings and inserts across the sheets and pillowcases. We’ve been married 21 years, and this year, I had to finally concede that the lace wasn’t going to last another year.

For those who might say, “What? You USED real handmade lace pillowcases?” Yes they are heirlooms, and Yes. I did.

My mother-in-law told me her philosophy was given to her by her grandmother– “Use your best, and always have your best left!”  She didn’t put all those hours into them to just sit in a box waiting for a moth or age spot to mar them. She wanted them used! or she’d take them back and use them herself.

And she would too.

So, yes. I did.

And now they’re too far gone to use any more.  The thread wore out fairly evenly with few repairs over the years.  Once they decided to go, they really went.  There were little holes all through it.  I’ve saved a section of the best for posterity— but it’s not much.  However!  These beautiful lace gifts gave us 21 marvelous years of love and memories, and it was worth it.  I learned a lot from Mary about how to keep lace nice, and she’s right.  Use it or lose it.  Cotton wants to be used, and washed or it turns horribly yellow and loses its beauty.

Mary is currently making altar cloths, and loving it, so it’s my turn.  I had my husband choose a new pattern, and we’ll see how this one holds up for the next 20-odd years or so.

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Mary’s Linen Shelf– As new as if she’d made them all yesterday.