Have Your Say

17th December 2021

Vintage Crochet and the Value of Stepping Away

In All Stitched Up! issue #309, one reader asked about uses for vintage crochet. It is a question that has often occurred to us as well, especially when we mooch around in thrift shops or charity shops and find bundles of beautiful old doilies, either crocheted or embroidered, which took someone hours of work but are now being sold at 50 cents a bundle. So often we wonder, what could we do with them? How could we save them from sitting endlessly in a sale bin, gathering dust… or worse?

Luckily, we’ve had some great ideas from readers about how to upcycle.

Ann wrote in to say that shortly after she saw the request, she discovered a post on the Felting and Fibre Studio entitled ‘Recycling, Upcycling and How One Thing Leads to Another’. This article includes ideas on using crochet and other types of lace. 

The author of the article was very happy to share her ideas with our readers and says she has even more examples of things she’s made using old lace. For those interested in this topic, it’s well worth having a read and perhaps even connecting with Lindsay Wilkinson who wrote it or joining her forums to find out more.

‘Two Bluebirds’ originally created by Mary Ann’s grandmother and reworked by Mary Ann

Mary Ann Witalec Keyes wrote to tell us that she has a large collection of vintage textiles, including crochet. She also tries to rescue as much needlework as she can when she visits thrift shops or garage sales because she sees it as a vital part of our shared women’s heritage. She then uses the pieces to create wall hangings by attaching the vintage pieces to linen cloth by hand, then adding colour with simple embroidery stitches before framing and mounting them. I think we can all agree that they look pretty special.

A piece of crochet rescued from a thrift shop and reworked by Mary Ann

Lesley-Ann Read suggested that vintage crochet pieces can be stitched together with a suitable backing fabric to make pillow shams. She also suggested stitching a row of doilies and table runners around a bedskirt for some real luxury, with the added bonus that it weights the bedskirt and helps it to stay in place. Finally, she incorporates pieces into crazy quilts. So, there are a whole host of ideas! If anyone has any others, we’d really love to hear them or better still, send us pictures.

We received a really thoughtful response from Mrunalini Nimbalkar after reading our welcome from All Stitched Up! #309 concerning our question about ‘stepping away’. She said that we all need to relax in order to really bring out our creativity. Research has shown that even when we are daydreaming, our brain is still working hard, but in that state, it improves both productivity and creativity and so it is very important to put that needle and thread down occasionally to get the best out of yourself.

She also highlighted the importance of proper vacations and holidays that allow your mind to take a complete break from all of the day-to-day tasks and return, refreshed and blooming with more ideas.

Mrunalini told us that the activities she likes to get involved in when not stitching are breathing with nature, walking and smelling the flowers, sometimes taking pictures and posting them on social media in order to share what she’s seen and read the lovely comments her friends write.

Mrunalini also likes to write poetry in stitching breaks, which she finds is just as creative, but in a different way.

Finally, Julia admitted that she always has far too many projects on the go at one time. These include embroidery, quilting, knitting, crochet and dressmaking projects. But she knows that different types of projects suit different types of moods. 

If she is tired and wants to do something that doesn’t require too much thinking, she’ll crochet a blanket. If she wants to get lost in the skill and craft of the work, it is fine embroidery. And then, when she wants to really step away from it all, she’ll either cook or do something in the garden.

We hope that everyone gets a chance to ‘step away’ over the Christmas break, so you can relax, recharge and come back refreshed in the new year. We’re already looking forward to hearing everyone’s stitching stories and sharing all of the new ideas that people have come up with. We’ll be sure to get that kettle filled and bake a whole new batch of biscuits ready for the return of Have Your Say in 2022.

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