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.

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Freeform Crochet Irish Rose

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Irish lace is a wonderful dance between dense thread and open space. I’ve been working on my Irish rose designs. I’m really pleased with how this rose, leaf, and flower set is coming. The center has traditional Irish crochet padding cord to make the dense centers more pronounced.

The clones knots in the netting are wonderful examples of this contrast and how pleasing it is to our eyes.  I’ve also been experimenting with putting roll stitches in patterns where you don’t normally see them.  I like their unusual look, and the roll stitch is another stitch, like the clones knot, that is a high density stitch perfect for unique antique-style laces.

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Roll Stitch Snowflake

Roll Stitch Snowflake

This roll-stitch snowflake is an original design and incorporates Irish clones knots between the branches. It was made in size 100 thread with a size 24 Tulip brand hook. I made this just to see if I could make the roll-stitch in this size thread, and have used it in my classes to show the skill the old lacemakers had. Size 100 thread is the smallest I’ve found. It worked! Each roll has 21 wraps. The finished snowflake is 3.5 inches across.

Repair Project: Beautiful 100 Year Old Antique Irish Lace

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This lace belongs to a friend of mine who has had it for many years.  It’s hand made Irish crochet lace.  A few of the floral motifs have been torn out here and there, and the picot netting is torn in several more places. 

She asked me if I would be able to repair it, and help her preserve it.  I have to admit that repairing a hundred+ year old piece of handmade Irish lace is a nerdy kind of wonderful. I readily agreed.  So much history here.

In examining the lace, it was easy to see how the damage had happened.  These little hook closures across the front of the jacket have caught on the lace and inadvertently been pulled, ripping through the aging thread.

The culprit: sharp little hook and eye closures

The culprit: sharp little hook and eye closures

My first job was to whiten the lace. I had no thread that would match the deep antique yellow it had become over the years, so I consulted with my mother-in-law who has a lot of experience laundering old lace.  She suggested Clorox II.  It has no chlorine bleach in it, so it won’t damage the fibers, but it does an amazing job of whitening.  It has a bit of bluing in it also, which helps the thread appear whiter.

The washing process took an entire evening, soaking, agitating, and rinsing.  The gentle process did a great job of taking a lot of the aged color from the thread.  Once the lace was a lighter color, not quite pristine white, but tolerably close– my thread was a sufficient match and the repair could begin.

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Irish floral crochet motifs embedded in picot ground.

I’m not done with this project yet, but making good progress.  I just love studying all the old motifs.  I can copy most of them from experience and observation.  The stitch tension is tighter than my tension, so I’m using my very smallest hook, Tulip, size 23.

A good variety of flowers

A good variety of flowers

Such a pretty piece.

Such a pretty piece.

I’m looking forward to posting finished pictures.