Although I do all manner of thread crochet, including filet pieces, my real specialty is with preservation work for vintage patterns.
Centuries ago women made their own collars,cuffs, yokes, garment decorations and handbags knowing that the crocheted work would outlast the garment. They'd have sets of things, an assortment of collars and cuffs, for instance, which they could put onto new dresses when they made those, or trade with a friend or give to a daughter.
These delicate patterns were not written down because 1) most women were illiterate and 2) everyone "just knew" how to do it all.
This is our misfortune because when machine work came into vogue with the industrial revolution, much skill and knowledge was "lost".
So the work of preservationists is to simply investigate a surviving pattern whether it is a sample piece or perhaps a sketch or even later, an odd kind of notation that early pattern writers used.
We look it over carefully and try to figure out eactly how to duplicate it and then write down our work in modern pattern language.
This effort can be tricky in several ways....
Many existing samples are in museums and not accessable to an amatuer.
Many textile that were in common use at the turn of the 20th Century are no longer available.
Plus just the effort of trial and error.
If I am working on a vintage rose
reproduction and it begins looking more like a sneaker, then I figure I've gone awry somewhere and start again. And again.
Of course with later "modern" patterns, say 1900 to 1930, there were penny magazines published by the thread companies. But even so, the terms used are very obscure to a current day crocheter.
I recently completed work on a yoke meant to be sewn to the top of a nightgown from 1917. I got the updated version on-line but even so, it was a task and a half to complete!
When I finished it, my friends begged me to not put it on a nightie where no one would see it but to use it as the collar overlay on a pretty black dress, which is what I did with it.
Of course I also do simple modern patterns such as angels and snowflakes and baskets for Christmas.
Then of course there is a huge variety of edgings for sheets, pillowcases, socks, fine linens or hankies.
My work is NEVER for sale. I make what I have the heart to make for my friends, family and myself. There is too much invested in any single item to ever dream of putting a $ tag on it...how to account for the time, the tears, the weariness that can overwhelm when a mistake is caught too late and a piece must be taken apart and redone, the prayers, the fond thoughts of the person I am creating the item for? I wouldn't consider going through all that for money; it only for love.
Love of the preservation work, love of the item I've made, love of the person I've made it for.
But truly, it is a fascinating process and all my local friends who do not crochet at all often will stop by regularly to check on my progress with a specific work or will call me each day to ask about it. They get so psyched, knowing who it is for and why it is being done and seeing samples of a centuries old skill appear before their eyes. Even the guys I know get really excited!