I love looking up through the tree canopy to the sky this time of year. The tiny leaf shoots look like lace handwork draping the trees in delicate heirloom shawls. Clones Lace, a very fine crochet is just like the beginning of spring; petite flower buds and clovers ready to bloom. Having been taught how to crochet by her Irish grandmother at the tender age of four; Cornelia crocheted throughout her childhood and took up knitting as a teenager. Knitting her way through art school and her career as an architect (especially time waiting at the city building department!), Cornelia is now co-owner of Bella Lana yarn shop in Minneapolis.
After opening the store, she saw an article on Clones Lace where she re-discovered the heirloom lace her grandmother used to make. It was a wonderful connection with her beloved grandmother. With interest piqued, Cornelia initiated a conversation with Maire Treanor, the foremost Clones lace instructor and author of several books and was soon bound for Ireland to participate in Ms. Treanor’s workshop. Cornelia says she has fallen in love with the ‘wee bits’ and the whole process. Ms. Treanor recently offered workshops for the Twin Cities fiber community at Bella Lana and StevenBe.
A ‘wee-bit’ of Clones Lace history The beginnings of Clones (pronounced clon-ness) lace making are rooted in the history of the great famine in Ireland in the 1840’s. Cassandra Hand, who was the wife of the local Church of Ireland rector, introduced crochet lace making to the local women whose families were desperately in need of income. Bringing in teachers from Kildare to show the women how to make a variation of Venetian Point Lace, the local women learned the intricate technique of Italian lace and began to improvise using a crochet hook instead of sewing which resulted in a much quicker production of lace. A seven inch piece of lace could be produced in 20 hours rather than 200 hours! Note the gauge of the thread and the size of the crochet hook. The intricate design motifs used reflected the natural world throughout Ireland such as shamrocks, ferns, and wild roses. One of the most significant techniques to note is the Clones Knot. This is a ball made by turning the crochet hook 10-12 times around the thread.
Here’s a video of Maire Treanor making a knot. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UysNxGliNBk It’s a bit noisy in the background of the video, but still fun to see how she does it.