Friday, June 18, 2010

Love, Love, Love Lace! (And a little something to give away)

You know I love lace and I'm aware that there's a certain interest in it amongst my fellow bloggers too! What I knew about lace before I learned from my mother, and now she has given me her Lace 'Bible' - The identification of Lace, by Pat Earnshaw. I'm going to share just a little of what I've learned in an occasional series of lace posts - the book is incredible in the way the author demystifies what semed quite complicated to me before, and I'm just going to pass on to you some of the uncomplicated basics.
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!


Maria said...

What an interesting post Floss :) said...

hello Floss, I loved learning all about lace, I didn't know any of that before! I love the top, so pretty, I like stripes and I like flowers, and I love blue and white, no wonder you couldn't resist! Suzie xxx

Sarah said...

Wow that was so interesting. Thanks for the lace lesson Floss, I look forward to future ones. Lace is so pretty but I just can't imagine how anyone could spend so much time making it. I would never have the patience for it. Besides I would be so lost with all those bobbins.

Elizabethd said...

Lovely lace.
The top is sweet, but too small for me!

marigold jam said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mrs Yappy Dog said...

What a pretty top, not for me though ... hope it is a perfect fit for someone, nearly everything I own is white Stuff, so I don't feel too deprived!

marigold jam said...

Me again - tried to edit my previous comment without success! Interesting post Floss - I did a bit of bobbin lace as part of my C&G Creative Textiles course many years ago but found it too fiddly and intricate for me! Love that top and can see why you bought it I'd have been the same - could you perhaps use the lovely fabrics for something?


Della said...

My Mom used to collect lace and linens...she's passed some her things to me (which I appreciate oh so much!)

I'm a U.S size 12! Pick me, pick me! I love the shirt! :)

Sherri B. said...

Thank you for our fist lace lesson. I am a very eager student and will never look at lace the same again. I had no idea of the history behind it and am finding it fascinating.
The blouse is sweet and it is kind of you to think of us. Hopefully one of the blog family will be able to wear it but it will not be me as I take a larger top.
Have a wonderful weekend.

Little Eve said...

I loved reading about lace, which i knew nothing about. Thank you!
I'm wide at the shoulders a bit too, so also prefer not to make them look any bigger.
I hope the top finds a good home!

Anonymous said...

What a gorgeous shirt!. I love the look of lace, and I have great admiration for those who make it, but I don't think I have the concentration or patience to make any myself. Thanks for the mini lesson on lace.

Floss said...

OK friends, I've had two emails and one comment from people who would love the top, and the very first one was sent by Luisa from Dance in my Garden, so it will be winging its way towards her! Sorry to those who wrote afterwards - I was at work so I couldn't tell you it had already gone. That's the way the cookie crumbles, as the French wouldn't say...

Thanks for all your great comments - please feel free to continue commenting!

silverpebble said...

Wowee - you have taught me STACKS about lace Floss - thankyou. I'll be bookmarking this post.

I have that very WS top, in that very size and I adore it. I'm not sure I need another one so I'll pass on the giveaway but good luck to the entrants - I'm sure they'll love the top too x

Mami said...

Hi,Floss!! This is very nice post!!! I didnt know of the lace histories so far. Oh thank you for telling us.

Serenata said...

Very interesting post on lace making. The top was very pretty, can see why you bought it, what a shame it didn't fit. Glad it has found a new home.

Lydia said...

Happy Birthday to you Floss

Wishing you joy & peace for the next year.

Love Lydia xx