An interesting book on Irish craft, arrived at The DKC HQ a few weeks ago. It’s been a busy time for me, so I’m just getting around to posting my review of The Irish Countrywomen’s Association Book of Crafts 40 Projects to Make at Home published by the Cork based publishing company, Mercier Press this year.
This hardcover book is a collaborative project from members of The Irish Countrywomen’s Association (ICA). Their aim is to “showcase the best of the crafts that are still taught and used by ICA members today.” Liz Wall, National President mentioned in her introduction, that ICA were “overwhelmed with submissions from members who wanted to share the many skills and expert knowledge on their interpretation of the tradition and comtemporary Irish craft.” The introduction gave me a look into the history of the ICA, and as a point of interest, I learned that there are active ICA Guilds in every corner of Ireland.
“judging a book by it’s cover”…
The cover depicts the comforts of crafting…yarn, tea, and books. The book photography by Joanne Murphy conveys the cosiness and warmth of crafting and immediately wants the crafter to pick up the book and peruse through it with a cup of hot chocolate.
The book is divided into four sections:
Stitch and Sew
Make and Wear
Store and Keep
with a total of 40 craft projects submitted by members of the ICA.
The layout of each project chapter is simplistic with a bold title, underneath is the name of the ICA member, and the Guild she is associated with. Each project has a list of supples needed for each project and organised with sub-headings, making it an easy read.
The first project in the Stitch and Sew section is the Hairpin Crochet Stole by Nora Keady from the Moycullen Guild in Galway. Hairpin crochet, also known as hairpin lace caught my attention on You Tube, and to my delight, I was able to purchased a hairpin loom from The Constant Knitter.
This project looks to be a worthy stashbusting project. The instructions are detailed with simple illustrations, and as a non-crocheter, I can manage a chain and a double crochet by using this loom to create strips of crocheted lace and then sew them together into a unique stole.
The second project that caught my eye was the Chicken Scratching Embroidery Tea Cosy, submitted by Margaret Clince from the Garristown Guild in Dublin.
The teacosy in the photograph was in the background, and the details of the needlework were very much blurred out, making it very difficult to appreciate this craft.
As unfamiliar and very curious to this type of embroidery using gingham, I dropped into my local fabric and haberdashery shop, Sew The proprietor gave me a quick introduction to chicken scratching embroidery and it is now on my learning list and I’ll be back in her shop looking through her bolts gingham fabric and embroidery threads.
As knitter, I was curious to read through the knit submissions. So, I moved on to page 58 to find a Child’s Aran Jacket by Helen O’Sullivan from the Derryquay Guild in Kerry.
What I found was an aran cardigan fit for a 3 to 4 year old child. The pattern is written out, knitted in pieces then sewn together. It is a traditional pattern in every sense of the word. It is a pattern to keep any level of knitter interested by cabling patterns, aran stitches, increasing, decreasing, shaping and buttonholing.
If you are a knitter who has an adversion to sewing pieces together, This is Knit offers a finishing class which I took several years ago. As a result, I am no longer afraid sew things together and my knitted garments are seamed quite neatly. If you can’t get into town, Winnie’s Craft Cafe also offers a finishing techniques workshop in Booterstown.
The Lumra Bag by Réiltín MacCana from the Dun Laoghaire Guild is a interesting project using carded fleece, then drawing up loops through rug canvas. The instructions are organised in chronicalogical order started from preparing your carded wool, preparation of the rug canvas, and the actual instructions using the traditional and a more contemporary method to create an Irish inspired handbag.
There are also a few smaller projects, perfect for Christmas, such as mini-wreaths, table runners, and a Christmas card holder. I receive very few Christmas cards, and if I made one, it would hang empty on my wall, unless, you my readers wish to send me a Card this year ; ) you know I’m joking, right?
Overall, The Irish Countrywomen’s Association Book of Crafts is a very pretty craft book. It has lovely photographs and the pages itself has a lovely feel to it (very difficult to provide a tactile description).
The projects itself are not to complicated, however, I do find some of the instructions a bit vague since I may not be familiar with a particular skill or technique. The accessibility of instructional videos on You Tube and other crafting sites will provide that bridge to learning. I also had to call on a few of my Irish crafty colleagues and specifically ask questions like, “what is gingham? what is a rag rugger? What is rug canvas?” Of course, it is a great way to stimulate crafting conversation…
I personally would use this book to inspire my creativity in Irish crafting in which the ICA has proudly presented.
On an interesting note:
I am delighted that Mercier Press is offering an online promotional price for the Dublin Knit Collective.
Use this Link to purchase The Irish Countrywomen’s Association Book of Crafts
When you checkout, use the PROMO code: DKC ….
…. and your discounted offer will appear. Also, shipping is free within Ireland.