In the Amazing Land of Irish Crochet

When I think of Irish crochet, I think of poor women in dank, smoky crofts churning out gossamer filigree for the wealthy while their children gnaw on cold potatoes. I know, I know—stereotypes! But there’s a lot of historical truth behind this depressing picture, and a lot of creative tension between the exquisite work and the sad conditions under which some of it was created. The stereotypes never made me want to actually pick up a hook and try this dainty craft myself.

Create heirloom pieces like the shawl worn here by Maìre with the skills taught in this DVD workshop.

Enter Maìre Treanor. A longtime resident of Clones, County Monaghan, Ireland, Maìre has mastered all the skills for creating lovely, intricate traditional pieces, but also a calm, logical, clear way to teach them. While creating a whole shawl might seem daunting, making the individual elements—roses, leaves, shamrocks and such—is modular work at its best. You can create a motif in spare minutes, not hours. And then another one. It would be hard to stop! Then it’s simply a matter of arranging the elements on a template and joining them with a free-form cord of dainty Irish knots. Well, maybe add a sweet scalloped border. With Maìre’s clear instructions for each step, making a Clones lace heirloom piece seems not only possible but thoroughly compelling.

Maìre Treanor’s Burano Clones Lace Mask from PieceWork’s Crochet Traditions Fall 2012.

Well, there’s the accent. She is Irish, after all, and that takes a bit of getting used to. But she proceeds carefully and clearly, and pretty soon you fall into the Gaelic lilt and melody that echo the lace itself so beautifully. You start looking up airfares to Galway or Cork.

Maìre developed a series of lessons on Clones lace for Interweave Crochet magazine starting in November, 2011, and her stunning lace mask appeared as a project with an in-depth story in the Fall 2012 issue of PieceWork’s Crochet Traditions. This DVD brings it all to life, and detailed instructions for the mask are included as a PDF. You couldn’t ask for a better tutorial.