About About

col·cha (koal-sha) noun. Portuguese word meaning quilt.
An outer covering, usually decorative, for a bed.

In Portuguese tradition a mother or grandmother would crochet a colcha for a new bride to include in the bride’s dowry or wedding chest. This especially elaborate white cotton crochet colcha would often be used only on special occasions and might be handed down as an heirloom.

As a little girl I remember crocheting a long row of chain stitch that I would drag across the house, spiraling and zig-zagging, catching it on the furniture and the dog, the white cotton becoming a grayish-brown, my sticky hands coating the crochet hook with candy spit. I couldn’t seem to turn the chain stitch around and begin a project.

My mother tried and tried to teach me the complicated “abertos” and “fechados” (open and closed stitches) that made up her elaborate table runners, blankets, socks and dresses. I wanted nothing to do with these delicate white doilies and instead longed for striped sweat socks and logo t-shirts. As her cancer progressed, her award-winning designs grew. She found comfort in making more and more of these delicate objects. My mother passed away when I was seven years old, but she was sure to complete and present me with a beautiful, elaborate, white crochet bedspread: my wedding colcha.

25 years after those first lessons from mom, I found myself wanting to learn crochet and also to explore tradition, family and collaboration. I designed this project to explore collaboration and the space created by making something by hand as a group. I invited participants, scheduled meetings and made two amazing colchas. In this process I recognized that I wanted to share the script I followed with others who might be interested in this process. This site contains the documentation of the colchas which have already been completed and a free guide to encourage others to go on a similar journey of craft and collaboration. If you do take on the making of a colcha share your documentation on this website by contacting me.

Doris Caçoilo

thecolchaproject [at] gmail.com