Grandma Lillie’s Heirloom Roll Stitch Blessing Bonnet
This bonnet is a beautiful reproduction of the bonnet Grandma Lillie Lang Robison created for her daughter, Birdie Isabella Robison Swasey. It was made by Birdie’s daughter, Mary Swasey Rockwood, who has the original lace bonnet. The original bonnet is nearly 100 years old. Mary has made many copies of this bonnet, one for each of her grandchildren to wear for their blessing day, and to keep to remember their heritage.
Lillie Lang Robison, who designed the original bonnet, was a talented lace maker. She designed this bonnet without a pattern. There are a few variations of it in the extended family, but this one is a favorite.
One of the most distinctive features of this pattern is the use of the roll stitch, also known as the bullion stitch. Usually roll stitches and bullion stitches are short, but these are long. The longer the roll, the harder it is to make. Pulling one loop through a long tube of loops takes patience and skill.
Mary studied grandma Lillie’s lace until she figured out how to reproduce the distinctive stitches. The bent roll stitches, (they look like pill bugs), are made the same way as the straight ones. Yarn over 18-20 times, hold it steady, and pull one loop through the roll of yarn overs. It takes a special brand of hook to do it well. Mary uses only steel Boye hooks for her roll stitch patterns because they are straight enough to make the rolls without having one end graduate larger than the other. She has been able to reproduce this stitch and pattern in even size 100 thread, the very smallest thread available.
Because of the heritage associated with these stitches, I often try to incorporate them into laces I design. I love this pattern. It is beautiful.
Grandma Lillie’s Lace Bonnet, detail side
Grandma Lillie’s Bonnet, roll stitch lace edge
Grandma Lillie’s Lace Bonnet