A Bag Idea

As soon as I opened the cover of the bound copy of several “Corticelli Lessons in Crochet and Tatting” booklets, I started thinking of how I could adapt some of these patterns for a modern day crochet class. I liked the designs, and I liked the idea of bringing a little local history into things; the Corticelli Silk Mills were right here in Florence, MA.

I’ll be offering a 2 session workshop at Sheep and Shawl in South Deerfield, MA with a bag inspired by these booklets. Thursday’s 11/5 and 12/3 6-8:00pm. Head on over to Sheep and Shawl for details on how to sign up.


The booklets date from 1916-1917. I am always struck by two things as I look through these patterns. One, how many little edgings, inserts, cuffs, and little things there are patterns for to brighten up the plain and everyday wardrobe and household. Two, the assumed knowledge of the stitcher when reading the patterns. It is taken for granted that for example that the reader knows how to ” Make a ring and fill closely with s.c.  Make 20 rows of s.c., widening enough so the work will not be perfectly flat, and have 156 stitches in the last row.”

It’s curious what is not illustrated. Hairpin lace, called Maltese lace in these books is described only through written instructions. There is a picture of the finished product, but I’m not sure that would lead me to the method easily!

One whole booklet is devoted to bags, and that is where I drew my inspiration for this bag. I decided self striping sock yarn would be a pretty, sturdy, and readily available substitute for the silk. This would mean fewer ends to weave in and a larger gauge than the original which called for a size 12 steel hook. That is a 1 mm diameter hook. Teenie weenie would be the technical term.


You will need 375 yards of a sock or fingering weight yarn. A long self striping pattern will work best. You’ll need a size 3mm crochet hook. I’ll provide rings at cost for the drawstring path. The cord is crocheted. I will also provide guidance for a simple sewn cloth lining. This will help the bag hold up better, and keep stuff like crochet hooks, pens, and keys from poking through and stretching stitches and maybe falling out.

If you are feeling a little intimidated by sewing, don’t be. I am brushing up my own skills this fall. Luckily we have local resources, like Beehive Sewing in Northampton. If you need help getting started, Tess and company are there to help with classes and studio rental in a nice bright, clean, open space with plenty of room and quality machines in good working order. No need to monopolize the dining room table.

If you’d like to know more about the silk industry, and its history both in New England and the world check out the Northampton Silk Project.

If you are interested in antique crochet patterns Antique Patterns has a lot of scanned patterns to browse, including some of the Corticelli booklets.

A Bag Idea

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