Thursday, July 16, 2015

Antique Reproductions DIY

Thanks to Google scanning all public domain books for Google Books, numerous crafting books have been rescued from the dusty confines of university libraries. You can read these for free on Google Books and download them to your phone. I've taken a look at a few of them and even tried a crochet pattern from Crochet Doilies and Edgings by Cornelia Mee, published in 1846. Oh, Cornelia, if you only knew your book would get a second life almost 180 years later!

A few things you need to know about working with original, "untranslated" books from the 19th century:

  • Inconsistencies: publishing back then didn't place the same emphasis on consistency that we do today. So different books may call the stitches/other terms different things. British terms may be used in American books. You really need to read the first chapters that explain the definitions. One of the books I read called doilies "rubbers" for some reason.
  • The electronic versions of the book may not be searchable. So you may need to go somewhere else in the internet to find the title of the book you want and then search by title. If you know the book you want and find it isn't searchable, just go to the table of contents.
  • Some images may be dropped. I had a few instances of "see figure 3.3" only to find the image was part of a fold-out insert, or an endpaper (those are the papers that are glued on the book cover) that the Google scanners couldn't scan. I ended up finding the endpapers or fold-outs on other sites online.

Above is my version of "second doily" in black size 10 thread. The fringe was my favorite part, so I made it extra long. It took about 15 hours for the crochet...and like 30 hours for the fringe. I can say with some certainty that I will never make another fringed doily again. That was some tediously inane slave labor. It is no surprise that modern doily patterns don't have this fringe. By the way, I also would like to say that a black doily is kind of useless, unless you have white/light-colored furniture. My guess is that if you are the type to think that a black doily is cool, that you wouldn't have anything light-colored in your apartment, like me. I currently have my completely authentic reproduction of an antique doily on top of my microwave.

The book I used required that you have some background knowledge in crocheting in a circle. They did not tell you how to start each new round. They'd just say "work 3 long stitches" aka triple crochet (or whatever the book you're using defines as a "long stitch"). But you don't just start a round with a triple'd do three chain stitches for the first "long stitch" and then do two "long stitches." Books published today would do this hand-holding just in case for new crafters. Back then, I guess they didn't. Maybe it was just common knowledge back then.

But I have to say it was pretty cool to be working from original documents that an 1840s woman would have read.


  1. I love the doily you made - it might be best framed? It would certainly show the pattern off better.

  2. Wow it looks fantastic, love how it's sort of a reverse or negative of the usual white doily!

  3. I crochet too, but I've never tried any vintage patterns. I applaud your sense of adventure, and it came out great.

  4. Your Second doily looks pretty! And your tips on how to use Google Books and how to find what one is looking for even if the book is unsearchable are really good. ^_^