Wednesday, 25 September 2013

"Welcome Home" Pattern

I wrote last December here about some pieces of filet crochet in the Knitting & Crochet Guild's collection that date from World War I.  One of the items is a small tablecloth with a filet crochet border:  the border has a design of battleships, anchors with crossed French and U.K. flags in the corners, and "Welcome Home" along each side.  It was clear that there must have been a published pattern for the filet crochet border, because there are actually two almost identical tablecloths in the collection. There is another example of the crocheted border, though it was never used,  on the Australian War Memorial site. So I have been hoping to find the pattern one day, and this week it happened.  I was looking through a box of Fancy Needlework Illustrated, a quarterly magazine, and there was the design for the border on the front cover of one of them. 

Fancy Needlework Illustrated No. 33
 The border design of our tablecloths is called "L'Entente" lace, and has an accompanying triangle saying "UNITED" - neither of our tablecloths has the triangle, but I have seen a tablecloth with both border and triangle on eBay. 

This issue was published in 1915, it appears.  (There is no date of publication given in the magazine, but there is often a competition entry form, and you can roughly work it out from the competition closing date.)  I am surprised that it was so early - I had thought that the "Welcome Home" message would date from the end of the war.  The design is an odd mixture altogether - the French and U.K. flags, the "UNITED" slogan, and the name "L'Entente"  all seem to be celebrating the alliance with France.  But I suspect that for many people who made the border, it was the "Welcome Home" message that was more significant. 

 There is also a matching tea cosy design (possibly fewer of those were made, or fewer have survived, though one or two examples have appeared on eBay).  


Filet crochet was very popular at the time of the First World War, with several designs in every issue of magazines like Fancy Needlework Illustrated.  The patterns make depressing reading, I find, because it doesn't seem to have occurred to anyone that a chart would be the best way to convey the information.  Instead, you get pages and pages of tedious row by row instructions.  The tablecloth border takes 224 rows, and every one is something like:

       Hundred-and-seventy-second row: 11 spaces, 4 tr., 3 spaces 4 tr., 10 spaces.

(And that's a relatively simple row.)  So much counting!   I don't know how anyone had the patience to make any of these designs.  

I am very pleased that we have found the pattern for our two tablecloths, and so have another piece of their story.  One of the tablecloths has an accompanying letter saying that it was made for her father by a girl who was born in the 1890s, and it was used again at her own 90th birthday party.   We can imagine her reading the magazine as a teenager and slogging through the pages of instructions to make the tablecloth border.  If she recalled all that work, looking back at the age of 90, she must have thought that it had been worthwhile - the outcome was a memento that she kept and used over all the intervening years. 

6 comments:

  1. Fascinating blog post as always Barbara!

    Gillian

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  2. What a nice blog you have! I found it today when I wrote a post (in Swedish) about a knitted swimsuite and wanted to know more about Crocus Non Shrink All Wool.
    Margaretha

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    Replies
    1. Thanks very much for your kind comment.

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  3. Replies
    1. Hi Karen - thanks for your comments on this and other posts. Pleased to hear you found it interesting. Crochet is not my thing, but I do write about the historic crochet items and publications in the Guild collection now and then.

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    2. I'm so pleased to have found this article - I responded half an hour or so ago, but before I'd read the piece: concerning an almost identical table cloth picked up at a car boot sale just last Sunday (July 27th). The border round the cloth is identical to the one you have pictured, with the battleship and the crossed flags, but on mine, there's a central rectangle with 'United' worked in triangles and set in along each side of the rectangle. So that must have been a variation. My cloth is very much worn with a number of holes in the fabric and the crochet - but I do hope it fulfilled its function of welcoming a homecoming soldier! Both my grandfathers fought in and survived the war - otherwise neither my parents nor I would be here now! - from jillryanbrowne@aol.com (I can't see how to work the other sorts of 'signing off!'

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