Monday, February 25, 2013

A True Collaboration--Part 2

In our last post we had many photos of our little motifs that we had made for the Simone Handbag Museum project, along with Sallyl's account of how the project all started.  Today, I have a couple more photos of close-ups of some of the motifs that Pat made, and also, her first-hand account of the joining of the motifs for the mannequin!  Thank you, Pat, for sharing your amazing experience with us.  ~Kim

Pat's lizard

From Pat:  My trips up to Putney to Rosie’s workstudio started on March 20th 2012 when I went to discuss with her the joining up of the motifs which had nearly all arrived by then. We did, at that first meeting, do a preliminary assembly on the mannequin but it was a week later that I went up and collected the sleeve with the motifs already tacked onto calico which had been shaped to the arm. I took this piece home and worked on it there using a mesh stitch in #100 thread. Motifs on the sleeve included a dragonfly, a butterfly and my favourite flower, the fuschia. I worked around and under these so that the dragonfly’s tail and upper wings were free as I did with the butterfly’s head and antennae. The cup part of the fuschia flower and the upper leaves were also left free.

Each morning I took photographs of the work so far and sent them on to Rosie to see if it was coming out as she wanted it – Like a Walk in a Meadow, as she put it. When finished I took the sleeve to her and was very pleased to see how well it looked on the mannequin’s arm. Once fitted, I crocheted the little roses by the fingers.

I went home with the bodice, again with the motifs already tacked onto the calico for me by one of Rosie’s helpers, so I could start the filling in immediately. For motifs such as the lily of the valley I worked around each bell and stem leaving them free (when Rosie packed them up for the journey to Seoul she put stuffing into each little bell).

I am pleased to say that, apart from a couple of times, I did not have to undo much of the work. If I was not happy with a part I would leave it, go onto another section of the piece and then, going back, it seemed to work straight away. Once again I sent photographs each morning to show Rosie how things were progressing.

When finished I took the bodice back to London and, when pinned onto the mannequin, it did look lovely, each motif standing out to make, in my mind, a fairy garden in a magical web. The only part I was not happy with was my dear little lizard, but Rosie wove her magic (even this took time) and she got his legs into the correct position. I was pleased to meet Judith one day at Rosie’s and to hear how pleased she was with all the Ravelry team’s work.

Rosie also asked if I could make a narrow braid to go onto the beautiful hand embroidered organza and the lapels of the 1920s jacket – see illustration on page 214 of Judith’s book. I did so and the braid was done in #100 thread and I did one complete row of double crochet (US single) and then another with picots every fifth stitch. The organza was so fine that to hem it would have looked wrong but the braid just finished it off.

I felt quite lost when all the work was finished, as you can all imagine, but my thanks go to Rosie and everyone for the support given to me. It was a unique experience and I shall probably never get to Seoul to see the finished work!!

Pat's ferns

Sunday, February 17, 2013

A True Collaboration

"Our" mannequin, from the blog, secretlifeofmannequins also from the book,
"Handbag: The Making of a Museum" by Judith Clarke
One year ago, some of the members on the Irish Crochet Lovers forum read a post from Rosie Taylor-Davies.  She quietly requested help in making some Irish Crochet motifs for a project in which she was involved.  Little did we know that our humble motifs would become part of a beautiful museum piece.

Sally tells of how she originally connected Rosie to the group:

"What happened was that one morning in February last year, I had just returned from the supermarket and was putting away the shopping when the phone went. It was a very unusual phone call from someone I had never met or heard of - Rosie Taylor Davies. She carefully explained her background as a former head of the Royal School of Needlework in London. (By the way, they produced the lace for Kate Middleton’s wedding dress!).

Rosie went on to say that she was phoning me because of a recommendation from a member of the Knitting & Crochet Guild whom I had taught at an Irish Crochet workshop a few years before.

We talked for ages about Irish Crochet - and it became clear how interested in it Rosie is, though she hasn’t done any - she knows the Priscilla book through and through - it felt quite weird discussing several of the illustrations and each knowing exactly which one we were talking about.

I told her all about our group on Ravelry, and Maire and Clones and more. She explained about the Handbag Museum and the Irish Crochet she wanted done. She talked of exhibitions she had worked on, including one at our famous Victoria and Albert Museum in London. But it was all very difficult to take in, and to be sure that this was all for real and not some fantasy.

I said I would tell people in our IC Lovers Group about her project and see if anyone would like to take part. Before doing so I did lots of googling to check it all out, and did indeed find confirmation. Then Rosie joined Ravelry, and it all took off."

Sally's Motifs

Kim's Motifs
Indeed it did take off!  I saw Rosie's video from the VandA Museum, and was so impressed and thrilled at the idea of working with someone so talented, that I jumped in right away.  I thought it was so exciting, all of us from all over the world, making motifs and sending them to the UK,  to be prepared for their final destination in Seoul, Korea.

My little motifs are to the right, and can be found on the back of the mannequin and on the lower sleeve.  I couldn't find them in the photo above, or in Judith Clarke's book but at the museum's website listed at the end of the post there are more photos that show more detail of the making of the mannequin.

At Rosie's request, we all used Ecru DMC thread in size 80, and a .6mm hook.  The Priscilla 2 book and the Hardouin Vol. 6 book were our sources for patterns.  Rosie asked us to choose a few motifs we liked, and then narrowed down the final motifs to be made.  Pat joined the motifs in the final piece--amazing!

Below are some more of our contributions.  We had ladies from Ireland, England, France, the US (California, Florida and Washington ), and Russia.  I know I am missing some images and don't mean to leave anyone out. I'm happy to add photos to the post!  These images are not to scale.

Lori's Motifs

Simone's Motifs

Eileen's Motifs

Maire's Motifs

Roz's Motifs

Roz's Passion Flower Motif, found along neckline of the piece.

Some of Olga's Motifs

Olga's Motifs in scale of one another.  I remember being amazed at how quickly she made these!

Here is the museum's webpage about the making of the mannequins:  The first row of photos show our motifs being assembled and joined onto the mannequin.

If you would like to order the book about the museum, you can do so here:

I am so proud to have been a part of such a wonderful collaboration.  It's a modern version of how old Irish Lace used to be made.  Individuals making unique motifs to be sent to a central place and joined.  Thank goodness for the internet!  

Friday, February 8, 2013

Antique of the Week-Photos from 1913

So...not our usual Antique of the Week, but I think this qualifies.  has posted some amazing photos from Ireland, taken in 1913.  And they are in color!  So go take a look and if you are from Ireland, maybe you will recognize some of the locations.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Ecru and White Thread Overload?

A common problem among us Irish Crocheters (if you can call it a problem!) is having an abundance of white and ecru thread.   Lori, one of our moderators over on the Ravelry Irish Crochet Lovers group, uses Sharpies to color her thread for an added artistic element.  Genius!  She has put together a little tutorial on her blog, and even has a video.

Check out her blog HERE!

A motif colored with Sharpie before blending.
There are two methods of dyeing your thread with the markers.  One is by directly coloring on the thread, and then dripping alcohol over it to dilute and blend the color.  The other way is to color the marker onto a container, and drip some alcohol onto the ink, then drop your motif in. You can dye the thread before you crochet, or make a motif and then color it!

Just think of all the fun we can have with this!

Motif after blending ink with alcohol.
If you try this please send us some pictures and we will share them here!