One place I love going to for crochet and knitting patterns is the Antique Pattern Library. At this point I’m sure I have nearly half a gig of downloaded pattern books from the 19th and early 20th centuries. Google books and Archive.org are also great sources for vintage patterns.
Most of these patterns call for thread and tiny hooks – utterly intimidating but very fun to browse through. I’ve only ever followed two of these patterns, both from 1920s resources – one with better results than the other.
The boudoir cap I gave up on halfway through and turned into a snood. My attempt at filet crochet proved that what I thought was a tiny hook and thin thread was nowhere near tiny enough. That muddled mess at the back is supposed to look like a rose.
The belt turned out much better, I think it was designed as a “quick” project. I clearly don’t have the patience to be a Victorian/Edwardian lady. I’d consider making filet lace borders for clothing (or pillowcases, hah!) if they were all this simple.
I do still love to browse these books, just imagining myself making corset covers, altar cloths and intricately bordered tea towels. I don’t ever really plan on making anything out of them. It’s more like reading about a foreign culture with which I’m tangentially connected through sharing their craft. (There’s an email about yarn and connections I wrote last year that I should dig out and post.)
Except, here’s the thing: I saw something today I really really want to make:
It’s in a book called Old and New Designs in Crochet Work: Bedspreads by Sophie T. LaCroix. Ms. LaCroix’s name is attached to an entire library of crochet books listed on the second page, advertising that “These books contain the newest, scarcest, prettiest, and oldest patterns.” Each book is 25 cents. Dating isn’t clear, but it has to be published after 1915. The only thing stopping me from starting now is that I don’t have enough yarn for a bedspread…
…unless I just make a shawl.