A gift from my husband

Yesterday I was ready for a small post-Shiva adventure. My husband and I decided to go to the Museum of the Moving Image in Astoria.

The museum is in one of my favorite neighborhoods in New York. You get off the subway in a neighborhood of abandoned and repurposed factories,
and then walk through streets where industrial and residential buildings are crammed in side by side. The industrial buildings and the modest homes feel comfortably familiar to me. I grew up not far from shoe factories, and the ship yard was just a few miles from my house.
The light was wonderfully dramatic as we made our way to the museum.
After visiting the excellent Mad Men exhibit we decided to walk around in the neighborhood.
We went into a thrift store. My husband and I tend to have very different shopping styles so we naturally split up when we go into a store. after several minutes we found one another. my husband said he noticed something truly great in the store. I had noticed the same thing. 
A rendition of Whistler’s mother in filet crochet. We both responded to the terrible reproduction of the painting combined with the fairly skilled crochet work.
The piece is big, about 30” x 24”.

There is something so completely daft about this piece.
How obsessive does one need to be to follow a chart to create this piece? ?Is this a one off, with the design created and drafted by the maker? What would cause someone to devote the time to reproduce Whistler’s painting in filet crochet?
My husband fell in love and bought the piece.
Mrs. Whistler is a little bit schmutzy . I will need to take the frame apart and clean the piece. It has been backed with cardboard that is now crumbling and covered with shiny orange satin that I think may be rayon.

I did some research the internet last night.  I f any of you have any wisdom to add or have a better idea about this piece I would be happy to hear from you.

I discovered that there was a WWII era company that was producing filet crochet patterns in patriotic themes. You could purchase the patterns from your newspaper. You could purchase a pattern to recreate the  Trumbull’s Signing of the Declaration of Independence in filet crochet. They sold other patterns with other deeply patriotic themes. The same company also sold crochet patterns of DaVinci’s  Last Supper.

I suspect that the pattern for Whistler’s Mother is a product of that company. It could however just be the product of a lone obsessed woman.
Have you ever seen such a thing?
Please let me know if you have ever seen anything similar.

Melissa, a member of  an internet sewing discussion group that I belong to  sent me a link to an advertisement for a pattern for this piece.
Thanks to Melissa , some of the mystery behind this piece is solved.  I am now about halfway through the process of cleaning the piece. 


  1. How 'interesting'! ;-p
    In the first place it would have been much better displayed on black so as to reference the painting better. I think this comes under the category of crochet toilet roll covers and cross stitched kitsch. You can .... (crochet, cross stitch, fill in the blank) so you have to do Whistler's Mother.
    Have fun with this!

  2. I agree, a stronger contrast would be more interesting. Saying that,I can't imagine doing this piece. I crochet but not that!! Please let us see it when you are done. Thanks. Liz Lemieux


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