For example, this is how lace began: as embroidery!
In Rennaisance Italy, the embroiderers began to cut away more and more of the fabric, filling in the gaps with complex designs in buttonhole stitch, which is the stitch used on this pretty mat often found on our table.
I imagine this is quite fiddly to do on fabric, but to do it in thin air, over nothing more than a paper pattern, must be incredibly painstaking! But that is what the first lace was.
The two examples from my collection that I'm going to show you today are nothing special - they're rather coarse - but this makes it very easy to see how they've been made.
This is a 20th century needlepoint lace mat from China. Can you see that all the linking 'brides' are buttonhole stitch? And the patterns inside the flowers are all stitched. These are the clues that you are looking at needlepoint lace.
This picture, taken from here, is the typical view of how lace is made - on a pillow, with bobbins. But in fact this style of lace came later, although not very much later- lace was becoming a huge fashion across Europe, and everyone was trying to develop the industry in their own country! The first bobbin laces were copies of the popular needlepoint ones.
Because of the pillow, bobbin lace can only be made in a fairly thin strip. This is a nice little example of what they call Bedfordshire lace, although it was made across southern England.
You can see the things that make it typical of bobbin lace, rather than needlepoint - there is no evidence of stitching, and the designs are made up by plaiting or weaving the threads together by moving the bobbins.
So that's my little history of lace so far - to sum up, there are two techniques of lace making which can be identified by looking at the way the lace patterns have been created - either by stitching (needlepoint) or by weaving (bobbin lace).
Now, this is what I'd like to give away. I bought this fantastic top in a British charity shop but it just doesn't fit (it's a UK 14, US 12, and it's a bit too big for me) and also, the slightly puffy sleeves really don't suit my wide shoulders. So it's a great top, but there's no point in my keeping it, as I just feel miserable when I wear it. Would one of you like it?It's a good make.
The details are very, very pretty.
You can see why I couldn't resist it, even though I realised it didn't really suit me in the shop.Would one of you like it? Please email me if you'd like me to pass it on to you, as it really is doing no good in my wardrobe.
Edit - the top has found a new home wiht Luisa in Tasmania!
Have a great weekend!