Monday, January 14, 2013

My Special Find

Back in the 'nineties, when Victorian-style decor was popular, I subscribed to a crochet magazine that featured patterns for doilies and other similar lacy things. (And just so we're clear, I do mean the 1990s... because I guess Victorian decor was popular the first time around in the 1890s, wasn't it?) I still enjoy crocheting doilies and include a few in my home decor even now, though I don't have one draped over the back of every chair and every other available surface.

One issue of the magazine, in the fall of 1995, featured these beautiful lace parasols. I wanted to try my hand at making one so bad, but alas, I had no parasol frame.
The magazine gave this not-so-helpful advice:
"One of our readers was rummaging in her attic and came across a couple of old umbrellas. The fabric had practically disintegrated but the frames were still in excellent condition. At this point, she had an ingenious idea. She removed the failed fabric and replaced it with a crocheted pattern. Result: several stunning new parasols. How about that?"
Isn't that lovely for her? I directly went and rummaged in my attic, too, but unearthed no old umbrellas, disintegrated or otherwise. Reading further:
"Actually, the problem here is twofold. First, you have to find a suitable umbrella frame. This you can do by digging deep in your own closets (or attic, if you have one). By looking in dark corners of antique stores or visiting flea markets. You could also spot your special find in store carrying Oriental objects. Chinese-style umbrellas often have wooden frames covered with easily removable painted oilcloth."
So... I've been stuck on Step 1 of The Problem for these 17 years. I've had several different attics and closets during that time. Dark corners of antique stores and flea markets have yielded nothing. (Though, admittedly, I haven't been looking all that hard.)

This past Saturday afternoon Laura and I decided to make the rounds of the thrift stores here in town, just to see what we could find. As we were parking in front of one of the stores, I noticed this "beauty" in the window. I immediately remembered my crochet pattern, so I was eager to examine it more closely.
It's covered in paper, not oilcloth, but yes, it would be easily removable, being already torn in a few places. And how 'bout that little square of yellow fabric in the middle? Very odd.

"That wouldn't keep you very dry," Laura mused.

"No," I explained, "it's for shade from the sun." And then I told her what I had in mind for it. Now that this kind of decor is out of vogue, I'm not sure what I would do with a lacy parasol, once I finished it. Come to think of it, I'm not sure what I thought I would do with it, back in the day. Hang it from the ceiling? I have no idea!

"Use it for a photography prop, of course," Laura suggested. She and her friends love to do portrait shoots of each other.

Great idea! But is it affordable? I didn't want to spend a whole lot on a project that I may or may not get around to ever finishing.

The price tag was a modest 99 cents! And then when I got up to check out, the special for the day was 75% off, so I got "my special find" for a quarter. How about that?
So I'm ready to take on the Step 2 of The Problem:
"And now we come to the second half of the problem. Unless you get very lucky, chances are your frame will not match the frame in our patterns (the number and length of rods will probably not be the same). That may mean serious adjustment of the pattern. So a word of advice is in order: leave the parasols to the experts! If you are a beginner or improver, have a go at the fan for a nostalgic touch."
Having been crocheting avidly since I was about 12, I do consider myself an expert. Whether or not I'm up for this challenge remains to be seen. I'll keep you posted.

Which of the two parasols do you think I should attempt?


Keetha Broyles said...

Here's another idea for ya:

Go to Dollar General or the Dollar Store
Buy a very cheap ($5 or less) umbrella
Destroy the cloth part
Use the "spokes" for your crochet parasol.

I'm just sayin' - - -

A Romantic Porch said...

I say make the EASY one...whichever that is.

But I do like the one on the left best.
xo rachel

pse said...

Make them both! One for you and one for ME!

Karla Cook @ Ramblin' Roads said...

How am I supposed to accomplish that, Mother, with ONE umbrella frame? ;-)

pse said...

Get the other one cheap at the Dollar Store, of course!

Karla Cook @ Ramblin' Roads said...

The dollar store umbrellas don't have enough spokes, so I don't think that would work very well. Besides, hand-crocheted lace just begs for a wooden frame, don't you think? Not a modern, cheapy aluminum one!