Tag Archives: counterpane

Whoops! A Counterpane Follow-up

Do you remember Grandma Anna’s Counterpane?  I spent hours reverse-engineering one of my great-grandmother’s bedspreads from a little snapshot my Mom sent me.  I even posted a pattern.

It turns out, I didn’t have to.  (Insert sad noise here.)

I received a package from a great-aunt a few weeks ago (one that also included a few of my great-grandmother’s crochet hooks).  In the package was also a couple of my grandmother’s old craft magazines.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis booklet, the Learn How Book, was published in 1952 by Coats & Clark.  It has a few simple projects and extremely thorough instructions on crochet, knitting, embroidery and (very usefully) tatting.  (The projects are actually pretty and practical, especially considering the publication date.  There’s even a sweater that I would totally make for myself, if I wore a girdle.)

But, right at the end of the crochet section, something popped out at me and literally made me do a double take.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIt’s the counterpane!  The counterpane!  I couldn’t believe it!  Not more than a month after spending all that time working out the pattern from a tiny, blurry, cell-phone picture, and the pattern lands in my lap!  I couldn’t believe it!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIt even used the word “cluster” for the bunches of stitches, just like I did.  Weird, right?  (Sure, the big clusters were called popcorn stitches in this pattern, but hey.  Close enough.)

I scanned through the pattern, and it looks like we both did mostly the same things, which is amazing.  Although, it’s a little hard to read the pattern in the booklet… look at that block of text!

The biggest difference I saw, though, was that they used a much, much finer gauge on their bedspread than I did.  I used a size H crochet hook, which is about 5 mm in diameter.  The booklet calls for a size 7 steel crochet hook, which is super tiny!  It’s actually less than 2 mm in diameter.  That means that instead of the blocks being about 10 inches across, like mine turned out, the original counterpane squares were only 5 inches by 5 inches!  That means, if you’re following the original pattern, you’ll need 260 squares just to make a twin-bed-sized blanket.  Talk about dedication!

I’m glad I got to see the original pattern, and I love seeing my great-grandmother’s old-fashioned handwriting in the margins of some of the patterns.  But one thing is for sure, I definitely won’t be making this bedspread at the original gauge.  That’s just crazy!

Pattern: Grandma Anna’s Counterpane

My Great-grandmother Anna was a remarkable woman. She was married at 16, lived through the Great Depression and World War II, and raised 11 children (and nearly a hundred grand-children). And through it all, she spent every free moment knitting and crocheting to keep her family warm. She even won a blue ribbon at the Wisconsin state fair for her knitting!

I never got to meet my great-grandmother, but her legacy lives on in the projects she has left behind. I like to imagine that every piece of her knitting is a friendly little “hello” through the decades to me and her other descendants.

Zimmer CounterpaneThis counterpane is based on a bedspread that one of my mother’s cousins inherited from Great-grandma Anna. The pattern has been lost, so I decided to come up with my own. The original was made with white worsted-weight cotton, like most traditional counterpanes. Feel free to substitute your favorite fiber, or change the color to give the blanket a more contemporary feel.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAGet the pattern here:

Grandma Anna’s Counterpane

Inspiration: Counterpanes

Ever since I saw that picture of my Grandma’s counterpane, I’ve had counterpanes on the brain.  They’re so charmingly old-fashioned, but still manage to combine the elegance of a monochromatic palette  and gorgeous textured stitching with the coziness of a snugly soft blanket.

Let’s indulge my new minor obsession, shall we?

Bedspread (Counterpane with Leaves) by A.M.

bedspread_close__003_medium[1]dogwood by tincanknits

9M-dogwood-00_medium[1]Marguerite by Priscilla Publishing Company


Keeping Warm, Old-School Style

A few months ago, my mom visited one of her cousins.   She showed my mother a bedspread she had inherited from their grandmother (my great-grandmother).  And, knowing my love of anything fiber arts, especially anything related to fiber arts with a sentimental back story, Mom sent me a picture:

Zimmer Counterpane

It’s a beautiful crocheted counterpane.  Counterpanes are traditionally knit or crocheted bed spreads, worked in white or off-white cotton yarn.  They usually are comprised of separately-worked pieces (squares, octagons, etc.) which include textural elements that work together  to make a bigger pattern once sewn together.

See how this blanket is made of large squares, sewn together?

Zimmer Counterpane large squaresBut, when the big squares line up, smaller squares appear?

Zimmer Counterpane small squaresMy great-grandmother was a prolific knitter and crocheter, but through the years, most of her projects have been lost to moths, given away, or otherwise misplaced.  I always get excited to see a piece of her work that has been kept safe over the years, especially as beautiful and well-preserved as this blanket.