History

Mary Cards Cottage, this heritage listed, historically significant original Australian weatherboard cottage (circa 1903) was once home to the famously successful crochet designer Mary Card.

Mary Card began to crochet seriously at age forty-two after she was forced to give up her chosen profession of teaching due to loss of hearing.  She began by repairing heirlooms of Irish crochet.  Studying the workmanship and designs gave her the skills to start designing her own pieces.

In 1903 Mary Card moved from Burwood to Olinda, in the Dandenong Ranges outside Melbourne, where she designed her own simple house and named it "Carinya".  Other members of her family moved nearby and Cards Lane remains in Olinda today.

Her first work became popular in America through the Ladies' Home Journal.  In 1910 she established a contract with New Idea in Melbourne, Australia where she wrote detailed and concise explanations on her original patterns.  Her first crochet book (Mary Card’s Crochet Book No.1) was published in 1914.

By 1917 Mary Card was a celebrity and that year she went to live in New York with her sister Harriet, to launch some her new designs.  There her work was published in Needlecraft.  She also formed a company to produce her patterns.  In the early 1920s Mary moved to Barkham, Berkshire, England.  She continued to produce designs for more than twenty years.  Mary revisited Australia occasionally.  Early in 1940 she returned home in poor health to live at Olinda where she shared a cottage with her sister Harriet.  She died later that year, aged 79.

Crocheting was one of Mary Cards many talents.  Born in 1861 to David and Harriet Card, she was also a talented writer and wrote short stories for the Australasian.  In 1889 she established her own small school called "Astolat" in Hawthorn which she ran with her sisters until 1903.  Mary Card vintage designs are still popular today and collector pieces are highly sought after by enthusiasts.  Collections are held in the National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, ACT and Sydney’s Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences (Powerhouse Museum).