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Textiles (L) - Encylopedia Of Antiques

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LACE: Lace presumably originated in Italy, supported by the fact that the earliest manuals were printed in Italy and by the markedly Italian character of the designs of early lace. Apparently lace evolved during the late 15th century. It departed from the earlier embroidery principles, first by what is known as "drawn-work," then by "cut-work," and with this, lace really started its long evolution. The industry centered in Venice, and in the first half of the 17th century, Venetian point-lace took Europe by storm. From Venice the art of making point-lace traveled to other Italian towns and westward to France and Flanders, and the Alenqon lace of France attained great beauty in the 18th century.

There were two varieties of early hand-made lace, needle or point-lace, made throughout with button-hole stitches, and bobbin or pillow-lace, woven, plaited and twisted. While point-lace-making has always been the distinguishing characteristic of Italy and the south, pillow-lace remains distinctively associated with the Flemish towns and with England. The needle and bobbin governed the making of antique lace as they do today. The early lace was made with linen thread, occasionally with metallic or silken thread, never with cotton thread, and white linen thread is still used for hand-made lace.

Technically, lace consists of two elements, the pattern, forming the more solid portion of the fabric, and the ground, which serves to hold the pattern together. The pattern is sometimes stitched down after being separately made, such lace being known as applique or applied. In guipure lace the pattern is cut out of cambric and applied to stitchwork. Machine-made lace of the present time, in which cotton thread is largely employed, cannot rival handwork in delicacy and strength of ornamental structure.

LAMBREQUIN: A festooned drapery at the top of a window or around the top of a bed.

LAWN: A kind of very fine linen, resembling cambric.

LINEN: Linen is made from flax and flax, like wool, has been used as a material for woven fabrics from a remote period. The use of linen for wrapping mummies in ancient Egypt is well known, and the Bible tells of the rich man clothed in purple and fine linen. Linen is manufactured in most European countries and in this country, too, although its manufacture has never been extensive here since cotton took the lead at the end of the 18th century. Irish and Scotch linens are famous. In Colonial times flax was raised in nearly every community here, and was cured, spun and woven into cloth for sheets, pillow cases, towels, table-cloths, clothing and other useful purposes. Most of the linen was plain and the quality varied. Sometimes, for table-cloths, it was woven to pattern. The work of spinning and weaving took up more of the housewife's time than any other one of the household crafts.

LINSEY-WOOLSEY: At first coarse woolen stuff with linen used as a warp. Later it became a dress material of an inferior grade of wool woven on a cotton warp.

Loom The loom is a machine for weaving yarn or thread into a fabric. In many primitive looms the bobbin, on which the weft was wound, was passed by hand, and the loom on which the flax and wool of Colonial times was woven was the same in principle as that used by the nations of antiquity. The shuttle carrying the bobbin was devised to throw the bobbin the full width of the loom. Bobbin looms are divided into treadle looms and those without a treadle, called high-warp looms. In 1733, John Kay of England invented the flying shuttle, and the first successful power loom was invented by Edmund Cartwright, also an Englishman, in 1785. Then came the jacquard loom (q.v.) in 1806, which provided for weaving large and complex patterns. The modern power loom combines a number of appliances which make it possible for one weaver to operate several looms.

LUSTRING OR LUTESTRING: A glossy, silk fabric with a ribbed pattern used for clothing and for furniture upholstery in the 17th and 18th centuries. Although it was made in England, large quantities were imported there from France and Italy.