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Bread Cloth

Curated Submission
Early 20th century
DIMENSIONS in centimetres
34.3 x 31.1
Materials & techniques
Cotton; Crochet
Gift of Corinne Tellier
Manitoba Crafts Museum and Library 3298.00
Doilies and tray cloths such as this one were ubiquitous in the early 20th century. While many are primarily ornamental, they also serve to protect surfaces from scratches. Other specialized doilies called antimacassars were draped over the backs of couches and chairs, originally to protect the fabric from the pomade and oil most men used in their hair. This doily is called a tray cloth and was used to line the interior of a breadbasket.
Delicate, high-quality doilies were made using bobbin lace or needle lace techniques, but utilitarian doilies like this were often made using filet crochet. Filet is a relatively simple crochet technique that typically uses only two stitches. A mesh ground is made using chain stitches, and areas are filled in with double crochet stitches to create a design. Patterns are drawn on a graph, which can easily be translated to the crochet mesh. Tray cloths labelled “BREAD” are extremely common, and there are countless examples of similar patterns in magazines from the period. This piece is somewhat unusual as it reads “PAIN,” the French word for bread. The Franco-Manitoban community has played a tremendous role in shaping the development of this province, and the bilingual history of Manitoba has given rise to many interesting cultural fusions. 
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