Venetian Crochet Triangle Motif, circa 1900
- LaCroix, Sophie T.
Old and New Designs in Crochet Work
Book No. 2, Page 10 , titled “#270 Medallion”
St. Louis, St. Louis Fancy Work Co.,
c. 1900, reprinted [c.1915], 32 pgs
- Antique Pattern Library – On loan from Sytske Wijnsma, scanned & edited by Judith Adele.
Some of the best Venetian crochet lace patterns trace back to Sophie Tatum LaCroix (1862-1949); the author of a 20 volume set titled “Old and New Designs,” she contributed over 1,400 original patterns in various handcrafts between 1900-1915.
The cover photo of Book No. 2, depicting Miss LaCroix’s portier is stunning. This Venetian style triangle motif titled #270 Medallion is found on page 10, worked as a portier, dresser scarf and piano cover.
- The portier is comprised of 40 motifs joined to form an arch with 8 tassels as trim; the tassels being 55 threads 12 in. long, folded and wrapped. The piano cover contains 27 motifs as an edging and both the piano cover and dresser scarf include insertion, cutwork and hardanger embroidery. The author also included two (2) variations forming a circle and square motif or three-motifs-in-one. Wow! The hours it took to make these and this is just one (1) of the patterns in Book No. 2.
As I studied the piece and read the pattern, I was surprised to see the following instruction.
“Use 1 gross 1 inch brass rings.“
Interesting since brass is roughly 2 parts copper, 1 part zinc and 1% manganese. In 1840, copper was discovered in Michigan and by 1900, copper was discovered in large quantities in a few other US States; Arizona alone now produces over 50% of the US copper ore and the US is the 4th largest producer worldwide, behind Chile and Peru. Real production in the US however, wasn’t significant until about 1910 (and this pattern was originally published in 1900) so most of the US brass products were imported and thus expensive. Also, at that time, bone rings were available; albeit bone was growing scarce because the US beef supply and demand was insufficient due to immigration and the fast growing population. This explains why antique cattle bone crochet hooks and stilettos made in the US during the late 19th century are shorter than those made in other countries. In any case, the cost of brass rings in 1900 was significant.
Today all crochet rings are made of plastic called “Cabone Rings.” There are bamboo and metal rings marketed for sewing, macrame, purse and jewelry making, but brass is typically reserved for scientific instruments. Pricing it out, I found $1.00/per ring to be the average for real brass rings. Nickel plated steel and other alloys are less expensive at roughly half the price. To make 40 motifs like the one shown in the image on the front cover requires 3 rings per motif plus 8 at the bottom = 128 rings to make a 32″ width curtain.
Even cabone rings are costly at 30 units/$5.00 per pack. I opted to go the economic route and work on padded cord. I used a 1/2″ plastic funnel, wrapped the thread 10x around and crocheted over the cord. Obviously this method doesn’t produce a perfect circle like the o-rings do and it’s lighter than a motif would be if made using real brass rings, but it works at no additional cost.
Using US size 20 crochet thread in a mercerized cotton cone (color natural) and a US #10 steel hook, each motif takes about 45 minutes to make and measures slightly less than 4″. Vintage patterns, being sometimes difficult for the modern crocheter to follow, are often made “in the style of” rather than an exact replica and this 2015 rendition is precisely that.
Written Pattern (Modern Terminology) [updated 7/27/2015]
Since I don’t have a window to fit this curtain, I purchased a salvaged 6-pane window and decorated the glass with theater images. I didn’t repaint it because, I like the distressed look it came with. I hung the window at the end of a hallway.