American vs. European Crochet Terms

pinterest.jpg

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
Skip Miss

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.

Advertisements

Lily’s First Lace

IMG_20150320_145850My daughter Lily is learning to make lace. She has made a few things with yarn in crochet, but she was new to thread.  I started up a lacemaker class here locally this week, and she began attending. This is her first lace attempt, a snowflake! IMG_20150320_150330This snowflake took two tries to get right. The second time through the pattern only took an hour. She used size 10 thread and a size one Boye steel hook. When it was washed, shrunken, stretched and dry, it really looked beautiful. Lily's First Lace Lily wants to eventually make altar lace. She’s only 14 right now, but the amazing thing is that altar lace isn’t much different than a bunch of snowflakes, attached together. Once her stitching becomes even, she’ll be ready to make altar lace. Patterns don’t have to be complicated to be beautiful and meaningful.

Sweet Scalloped Edge Pattern

Sweet Scalloped Edge
This little scalloped edge is a simple classic, excellent for a beginner’s pattern.

There are three rows:

First row, chain stitch a length a few inches longer than the pillowcase you want to edge.
Ladder row
Second row, skip 7 chains of the row you just finished. Double crochet in the next chain. Chain two, skip two chains of the foundation row, double crochet. Repeat across to the end.
IMG_20150318_124925238_HDR
Third row, chain one, turn. Seven double crochets in the next double crochet from the previous row. Single crochet in the next double crochet, scallop made. Repeat to the end.

There is a slight difference between the scallop style of the pillowcase picture and the scallop picture above. If you prefer more of a pointed scallop, try this simple alternative:

Alternative pointed scallop for third row– three double crochets in the next double crochet from the previous row, chain two, three more double crochets in the same stitch. Single crochet in the next double crochet, scallop made. Repeat to the end.

Finishing Techniques: Blocking Lace

Blocking a piece of lace really changes the way it looks. This is my recent lace project, unfinished.

IMG_20140716_123728074_HDR

Wash the lace in hot water. I wash my lace by hand, with a little liquid dish soap in running water for 2-3 minutes, then rinse in hot water. I wrap the wet lace in a clean dry towel and firmly squeeze the excess water from the lace. I never twist wet lace.

IMG_20140716_130522

Next I lay a clean pillowcase over my ironing board to protect the lace and keep it clean while it is drying. I pin the edges, gently stretching the lace as I go, until the entire thing is molded to the shape I want and stretched out to snowflake precision.

When the lace is dry, remove the pins. Voila! The lace will hold its shape without pins once it is dry.

Birds in Flight first lace

Tatting vs. Crochet

Tatting shuttles on tatted lace.

Old Wooden Tatting Shuttles on Tatted Lace.

Tatting is very different from crochet in terms of how the laces are made. Both can be used to make temple altar cloths, so what is the difference?  Tatting and crochet lace can sometimes look similar, partly because crochet lace can so easily mimic other laces.  There are differences though.

The first difference is the tools used. In tatting, we use tatting shuttles, like these gorgeous wooden ones I saw once in a tatted lacemaker’s shuttle collection.  Crochet is actually named after the French word for “hook”, which is “crochet”. In crochet lace making, we use delicate steel hooks like these:

IMG_20140416_110552

Steel Lace Crochet Hooks

Between tatted and crochet laces, can you tell the difference? It’s tricky because crochet mimics so many different types of lace. There are bobbin laces, hardanger, reticella lace, needlepoint lace…. lots of old fashioned laces to mimic. Crochet mimics them all, and does it well because the mimicry can be done in a fraction of the time that the older style laces could be made. Less time to create meant more could be made, and time is money.  In those old days where lace was so closely tied to social status, lace was a big deal, and a large part of the European culture.  Irish crochet was the one instance I know of where crochet was sought after for its own beauty rather than speed. Speed and versatility are some of the main reasons crochet is still around, and the other laces faded first. The secret to the speed, is in the hook.

The second difference between tatting and crochet is how the thread is wound, looped and knotted.  Tatting is made with the shuttle passing in, out and around a loop of thread wound around your hand to tie a simple set of knots.  Those knots are then arranged in marvelous ways, with picots and a few other variations, but in general, strings, loops and picots are what tatting is known for.  Crochet is a series of loops pulled through other loops in a variety of ways. Crochet can look like cloth, or like lace, and everything in between because there are more ways to connect the threads than just picot connections.

You can see the difference between tatted laces and crochet laces if you study pictures of the types of lace.  You’ll soon see that tatted lace has a fairly uniform look, and crochet varies widely.

Lace Thread and Crochet Lace Edging

Tatting and crochet laces use the same thread sizes, and that makes them similar.  They also have similar designs with various styles of loops and picots, some look the same, but some look very different from each other.

IMG_20140415_104148

Crochet Lace Edgings

IMG_20140415_104124

Tatted Lace Edgings

In tatting, there are rarely any straight lines, everything is made of rows of curved stitches and picots.  Picots are those little loops that make it so frilly.  In french, tatting is called frivolete, for that reason.  People LOVE tatting because it is so frilly and delicate.

Crochet can’t replicate tatting precisely, but as a lace maker and designer, I use tatting principles in the designs I make, because they are so appealing.  I know my eye loves those picots, so I add them wherever possible, and covered chains are more appealing than uncovered ones.

There are many kinds of picots in crochet, especially Irish crochet.  People LOVE Irish crochet partly because of the picots.  There’s something about a picot that is appealing.  I don’t know what it is, but I’m smitten with it too.  They remind me of baby’s breath.

My favorite picot is very different from a tatted picot, it’s called a clones knot.  In this piece, you can see both crochet picots, and clones knots.  The clones knot looks like a little ball, where a picot is more like a frilly bump.

IMG_20140430_114707

Irish Crochet Lace with Clones Knots and Picots

Both types of lace can be plain, or intricate, depending on the design. The art of lace making is in the design. The rest is skill, but an eye for beauty transforms a useful skill into an art.

Information on Temple Altar Cloth Guidelines

Altar Cloth Lace

Crochet Altar Cloth Lace– with repeating motifs.

If you would like to get a copy of the altar cloth guidelines, call your local temple.  The church has listed every temple’s contact information at www.lds.org/temples

Each temple is responsible for their own lace altar cloth collections.  If you would like to make an altar cloth, call your local temple and make an appointment to speak with the matron to find out what your temple’s altar cloth needs are.  She will be able to give you the instruction and guidelines you need for the sizes of altar cloths she needs.

If you have questions about how to create, block, whiten, or anything else regarding care for crochet lace, drop me a note, I’m happy to assist.  We have an amazing community of lacemakers in our LDS culture.  It’s a wonderful heritage I hope to see flourish for a good long time.

A note of encouragement:

Anyone can make lace.  It’s a skill more than a talent.  It just takes practice.  If you are working on a temple lace, send me a picture of your lace pattern!  I’d love to feature more LDS Lacemakers!

Anna’s Baptism Dress

Anna Celinda, Baptism Dress with lace edging.

Anna Celinda, Baptism Dress with Lace Edging.

When Anna was baptized, she wore a dress I made with a variation on Grace’s lace edging.  I modified it, this time with a pineapple insertion. I added the same snowflake extension, this time without the cluny clusters.  I added the snowflake extension to the pineapple insert as well to tie the edgings together. The snowflake edging also goes around her collar, with a pearl button.

I like the design of both dresses, but changing the elements definitely changes the look.  This was a good experiment for me in lace design.

Design Experiment: Snowflake Edging Modified with Pineapple Insertion

Design Experiment: Snowflake Edging Modified with Pineapple Insertion

 

Pillow Edging for Practice

 

For my daughter’s birthday I made this lace pillow edge with roses.  It was a pretty simple project, and she treasures it. When you are getting used to smaller thread, a simple project like this is good practice, and worth the time for a daughter or granddaughter who will treasure the result.

Anna's Pillow Lace

Little Daisies Pillow Lace Edging With Roses

Tools of the Trade

All temple laces are made with white cotton thread. I personally prefer white thread to colored thread anyway, so all my thread supplies are blasting, gleaming, white. The best suppliers for lace thread are (in my never to be humble opinion) DMC Cordonnet Special, and Altin Basak (a Turkish thread supplier). DMC Cordonnet can be ordered online, and the color always matches. Turkish threads are a brighter white, and less expensive, but they’re harder to find. There are other threads too that are useful.

lace thread

Fine Lace Crochet Thread

Altar cloth guidelines ask for size 20 or size 30 thread. Lace threads go as fine as size 100, which is finer than sewing thread. The higher the number, the smaller the thread.

All of my temple laces are crocheted rather than tatted, but the temple accepts both crochet and tatted laces for their altars.

Crochet hooks for lace nearly always have to be ordered online. Boye brand hooks work well, I also like Tulip brand hooks. Stay far away from Susan Bates hooks. They’re terrible for lace, which is too bad because they’re so easily available.

Lace crochet hooks

Lace Crochet Hooks

Boye brand hooks I use for lace are size 10-14. Tulip brand hooks have a different sizing, in that brand I use size 14-23. Just like with the string, the higher the number, the smaller the hook. Tulip hooks are nice because they have a golden coating on the tip that is smooth against the thread.

Most people who crochet are used to yarn, and have never used hooks and string this fine. Not to worry, you can do it, it just takes practice to get the hang of the smaller stuff. When I began, I thought it would be pretty impossible, the hooks are so small! But I discovered that it isn’t that different, and now I actually prefer thread to yarn. Lace thread never splits!

Online Retailers

Lacis sells tiny crochet hooks, also lace making threads (Cebelia (all sizes & colors), Cordonnet, tatting thread, Flora etc. They also have a book catalog section of their site for reprints of antique patterns and excellent imported ones.

Herrschners All DMC and Coats & Clark threads, including Opera. They sell Optima online, and other exotic threads in the Yarn Shoppe paper catalog.  Boye crochet hooks.

Ebay — you can find almost anything here.