Hand Made Laces
( Originally Published 1924 )
In hand-made lace, the two principal classes are needle-point and bobbin, or pillow lace. The latter name is unfortunate because hand-made lace of all kinds is supported on a pillow, no matter if the maker uses her needle, plies the bobbins, or simply knots the thread with her fingers.
In Point lace loose threads are laid upon previously drawn patterns, the threads having no point of contact with one another and no coherency until the needlework joins them together. The needle-work is done with a single thread and the point of the needle. Buttonhole stitches of many kinds are used. These laces can not be imitated by a machine.
Bobbin or Pillow-made lace is the highest artistic development of twisted and plaited threads. It is made from a large number of threads attached by means of pins to an oval-shaped cushion or pillow, each thread being wound upon a small bobbin. The mesh of the net is shaped like a diamond, a triangle, a hexagon, or a square, and is uneven—differing from machine-made which is perfectly regular. The design of the lace is laid out by means of pins, around which the thread, wound upon the bobbins, is drawn and interlaced. For even a simple de-sign eighty bobbins may be required. The expert lace-maker throws these around with very great rapidity.
The difference between bobbin lace and needle-point can be detected by examining them under a magnifying glass. The needle-point is a series of loops, while the bobbin is always a darned-like or plaited mesh without tying.
Bobbin laces are of three kinds: tape, motif, and all-bobbin. In the first, tape is placed, arranged, and joined on the pillow, not cut or finished off, but continued to form the pattern until the lace is completed. The Flemish laces made in the sixteenth century were fashioned by employing a hand-made tape. (Today most of the tape laces are of machine-made tape.) In the motif lace, sprays or patterns made on the pillow are finished off; and afterwards joined by brides or by a réseau (net back-ground). In the all-bobbin, the bobbins originally used continue and complete both pattern and ground of the whole length of the lace.
Crochet. A hooked needle is used in making the crochet lace. The stitch of the crochet is purely a buttonhole stitch.
Knotted Laces. This term, knotted, applies to the finger-tied knot. The end of the threads, which the operator holds as he ties the knot, are some-times permitted to hang loose and form a fringe. The patterns formed by the knots are often very intricate, but the product is generally too coarse for use in decorating costumes. This lace is called Mocramé and is described in the Italian records of the fifteenth century.
Tatting is a knotted lace made by means of a small shuttle held in the fingers. Any weight of thread may be employed, and the designs vary from the delicate edging insertion and motifs used for trimming baby's clothes and dainty lingerie to the heavy weight which makes an attractive finish for household linens.
Evolution of Cut Work
Reticello, derived from rete, a net (little net) is usually descriptive of the patterns in which repeated squares, with wheel or star devices and such like, depending upon the diagonals of each square, are the prevailing features. In needle-point lace, these open-work patterns, are usually of button-hole stitching. The squares are partly cut out of the linen material; the threads not cut are sewn over with the darning or ladder stitch, forming a frame for the rest of the work. Gradually the amount of linen was decreased until only stitches were used and lace was the result. The reticello pattern is also carried out in early bobbin-made lace.
In drawn work, the linen is "drawn," that is to say, threads of both warp and woof are removed from the entire piece to be worked, leaving only three or four threads each way. The pat-tern is then darned in so as to appear like the original linen; the identical threads which have been drawn out are sometimes used for this. The remaining threads are then sewn over to form the background of small squares. A second way is to draw threads only from the background, cutting some of the cross threads, and leaving the original linen to form the pattern.
Lace which has no dependence on woven fabric, but which is entirely constructed of threads, is called Punta in Aria by the Italians ; this means "stitch in the air." In this class are relief stitches, as the French Point de Medicis, Raised Venice Point, Gros Point and Rose Point, Tape Lace, D'Angleterre, which is a combination of needle and bobbin, Alençon, Brussels, Argentan, Argentella, and appliqué on net. These laces will be described in the alphabetical list of laces.