Irish Crochet is lace/crochet hybrid traditionally composed of a fine linen thread. A series of button hole stitches (or double crochets) are worked with a very fine crochet hook over a foundation cord of various thickness or strands. This padding foundation thread is in and out of work as the individual motif requires and can be used to draw up the petals to create a curve or a curl to mimic petals and provide a stabilising element. These individual motifs are then sewn face down to a temporary background and joined together with a fine netting crocheted ground.
Initially Irish Lace was a significant part of the Irish needlework tradition offering women the possibility of working from home and supplementing household income, something that was never more necessary than in the years after the Potato Famine of the 1840’s. In an attempt to revive the Irish economy classes in Irish Crochet were given by charitable organisations to anyone who was willing to learn. Crocheted lace was a particularly suitable technique for this because as initial investment for a cottage industry were minimal: thread & hook rather than the multiple pairs of bobbins and cushions required for lacemaking. Crochet is an incredibly portable occupation having only one active stitch at anyone time, making it easier to pick up and put down as other tasks dictate. The vogue for light coloured lace must also have been a boon for those working under poorly lit conditions and it should also be remembered that the unique quality of this lace being made from individual motifs would have allowed collaboration between women. This is particularly possible as there is an element of free styling to making the motifs-mistakes can be easily disguised and do not impact upon the eventual fabric.
Even Gaultier has had a go.