What Makes a Crochet Heirloom?

What makes an heirloom? Is it the quality of the workmanship, the type of project, the age of the piece, or the crocheter? My definition of a family heirloom changed dramatically after reading an excerpt of Of Heroes, Hooks, and Heirlooms in the May/June issue of PieceWork.


Faye Silton's family, including her grandmother Rosa, seated at left, on whom the character Mutti in her novel Of Heroes, Hooks, and Heirlooms (Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society, 1997) is based. Photograph courtesy of the author.


Faye Silton was given a school assignment to share a family heirloom at her schools heirloom fair. Faye didn't have any family heirlooms, most being lost during World War II. Faye did have a photograph of her grandmother, taken just days before she was shot outside of her son's bar mitzvah. In the photograph her grandmother wore a swatch of lace around her neck.

Faye decided to attempt to recreate this particular heirloom. But she wondered, "Could I design a simple triangle to tie like a scarf at the neck? Could I keep the space even, the picots all the same size and leaning in the right direction?"

The finished crochet lace scarf was a family heirloom. It wasn't old; it wasn't a particularly incredible piece in design or workmanship. It was just a simple lace triangle. But it held a family story in each stitch, and that made it a cherished heirloom, because it is the emotional connection that makes a true heirloom.


Inspired by the characters and events in her novel, Faye Silton's crocheted-lace triangle collar will be the perfect addition to your own heirloom collection. Photograph by Joe Coca.

The May/June issue also includes fascinating stories about Laura Ingalls Wilder and the knitted lace she created during cold winter months as well as her daughter's memories of learning to knit and crochet. I loved the article about Susan B. Anthony's pickiness about the condition and color of her lace. And there is so much more.

Subscribe to PieceWork magazine today and discover more stories about historical crocheters, tatters, and knitters as well as patterns and fiber techniques.

Best wishes,

P.S.  What is your definition of an heirloom?

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