I remember sunny afternoons, after the dinner dishes had been washed and dried by hand, all the women sitting on wooden benches in the front of their apartments’ stairwells with lapful of lace. They crocheted it effortlessly, their hands blurred in motion, pulling and twisting loops of cotton thread. Their hooks so small as to be invisible on the end of the metal shaft. In and out, in and out, pulling, hooking, loops and chains worked in intricate patterns of flower garlands, bowls of fruit, branches and leaves, peacocks and birds of paradise. They made window sheers and curtains, bedspreads, coverlets, and pillowcases, borders and inserts, tablecloths and napkins, runners and doilies all later displayed in the windows of their flats and on all possible surfaces. Always crocheted in blindingly white cotton. The lace was bleached by the sun stretched on the wooden rakes their husbands made expressly for that purpose: four beams of pine wood polished to a dark sheen by years of use, held together by wingnuts, capable of being screwed to the required size for the piece being blocked and dried. I was brought up to think that it was beneath good taste, too plebeian, too lower-class, too Silesian. Instead I was awed and impressed. And I still am.
The photo is of my attempt at filet crochet, which is what the women were making, made with 1mm hook sometime in mid 1980s.