Crochet Work Among Germans from Russia
By Connie Dahlke
A fine new addition has been completed at the website of the
Germans from Russia Heritage Collection (GRHC), NDSU Libraries,
Fargo. These webpages at the Textiles and Clothing Section have
been prepared by our talented Glueckstal descendant, Ryan Schumacher,
a senior in electrical engineering at NDSU. Ryan has prepared
web pages which showcase written instructions for making some
of the crochet work pieces shown in the "Handwork of the
Women of the Glueckstal Colonies" chapter of the Glueckstal
Colonies Research Association (GCRA) new book "The Glueckstalers
in New Russia and North America - A Bicentennial Collection of
History, Genealogy & Folklore." The crochet patterns
were prepared by Connie Dahlke, who organized the "Handwork"
chapter in the book.
Connie's considerable skills enabled her to take the pattern
off the picture of handwork items sent to her for inclusion in
the book. She crocheted a series of examples and framed them which
were part of the American Historical Society of Germans from Russia
Convention in Modesto in 2004. A selection of these patterns are
now available at the NDSU website. Go to the Textiles and Clothing
section at: library.ndsu.edu/grhc/history_culture/index.html,
and click on the Textiles and Clothing link at the top of the
page -- this takes you to the listing of the crochet patterns.
You can link on whichever one catches your interest to go to the
pattern with a photo. There are five doily patterns, two lace
patterns, and two motif patterns posted.
Connie Dahlke was born in Walla Walla, Washington, the great-granddaughter
of Joseph and Christina (Kessler) Rott, both born in Glückstal,
So. Russia. Her mother and grandmother were born in Logan County,
Connie's reproduction crochet pieces displayed at the Modesto
AHSGR Convention which have been donated to the Germans from Russia
Heritage Collection, North Dakota State University Libraries,
Fargo, where they can be viewed. Posting the photos and crochet
patterns on the website is an added convenience for those who
did not attend the Modesto Convention.
Crochet work was popular among the Germans from Russia in the
Dakotas, and mention is made by Joseph Height ["Homesteaders
on the Steppe"] of both crocheted tablecloths and pillowcase
lace as prized possessions of German housewives in Russia. Photos
in Karl Stumpp's book, "The German Russians: Two Centuries
of Pioneering", show evidence of decorative lace and crochet
work on the clothing of German women and girls 1920-1942. Various
pieces of crochet work can be seen in the photos of German-Russian
families included in the various Jubilee books produced by North
Dakota and South Dakota towns.
As young girls developed fine-motor skills, they were introduced
to needlework by their mothers or grandmothers. A first project
might be hand-sewing a simple dress for a favorite doll, or hemming
a dishtowel or other small cloth object. As the needle skills
progressed, the child might be instructed in embroidering a colorful
design on a pillowcase, which would naturally lead to learning
to crochet lace to edge the pillowcase.
Girls would often prepare hand-decorated linens to be carefully
saved in their dowry box. Dreams of a future home of her own motivated
many a young girl to diligently invest time and effort in the
preparation of these handwork pieces.
The crochet patterns present a sampling of some of the crochet
work done by German-Russian women in the Dakotas. Additional examples
of German-Russian handwork can be seen in "The Glueckstalers
in New Russia and North America", pages 647-665. It is hoped
that the crochet patterns will provide a venue for interested
individuals to participate in a "living history" of
Germany-Russian culture and help preserve the accomplishments
of our ancestors. Connie writes, "I am truly indebted to
all those who took the time and effort to photograph their collections
of German-Russian crochet work."
Connie Dahlke is a Registered Dietitian, having completed the
Dietetic Internship at Loma Linda University in 1973. She is also
compiling a German-English hymnal. She is married to Ron Dahlke
and they have two adult children.