A lightweight, open weave fabric worked with needles, spindles (bobbins) or crochet in looped, twisted, knotted or interlocked threads – lace making has it’s own language. These techniques characterise the lace type ( see below) and create a border or a piece or work that is built up gradually–a bit like a spider’s web. .

* Lace-work is often associated with open, light, delicate, pretty qualities. The element of not quite seeing through can bring an element of ethereal fantasy to a room (much for the same reasons it is used for wedding veils), and acts in the same way as filigree carving, ironwork and pierced panels do, by introducing an unparalleled lightness and sense of freedom.

* To all intents and purposes here are three main techniques: bobbin lace, needlepoint lace and machine made lace.

* The designs have an underlying geometric structure that holds any degree of pattern and shape running through it – ranging from simple spots to large, elaborate flora and fauna.

* Lace can be worked in any size, from a narrow border to a full sized window panel.

* There are many different types of lacework , they often take on the name of the town or region where that particular pattern or style of design was developed.

* The threads need to be fine, even and strong, therefore cotton., linen or silk are used for hand weaving ; mass production additionally employs an artificial extrusion or a mixed fibre.

* Handmade lace is a luxury, as costly as it is time consuming, so choose with great care–a little goes a long way. Commissioning your own lace is a lovely thing to do if you can afford to do so, with the added advantage of knowing you are supporting a real art and will gain a unique textile or edging.

* Antique, hand made lace is undervalued and inexpensive; we regularly pick up collars and trimmings from antiques markets to re-cycle on the more feminine furnishings, mostly lampshades and bed cushions.

* Machine made lace is quite a different animal. It has none of the character of the hand made, however the low metre cost makes it possible to use over larger areas: curtains, sheers, bed drapes, cushion, bolsters, quilts, tablecloth lining, and bed valance edgings

New designs come in every quality of thread, weight and design and width and are sold by the metre. Elaborate designs are often sold for window panels or lambrequins.

* As window curtains, lace in any form introduces a floating, infinite translucence, taking your eye into the distance through a veiled view; as under curtains it can hide an ugly outlook or serve to protect the main curtains. For any of these uses it must be easily washable.

* Most hand made lace is now imported from India.


Categories of Lace

Lace types may be broadly categorised by technique: needle lace-including embroidered and cutwork laces; bobbin lace – including ancient, continental, point ground, guipure, part and tape laces; tape laceknotted lace, crocheted lace, lace knitting and machine-made lace.

The time lines and exact classifications of many laces is indistinct and virtually impossible to tie down, given the individual, local and period diversities that need to be accommodated. However, there is a generally accepted list that looks something like this:

Needle lace – worked : Alençon, Argentan, Argentella, Armenian, Halas Lace, Hollie Point, Lenmare Lace, Limerick Punto In Aria, Point De Venise, Point De France, , Point De Gaze, Youghal,

Needle lace – embroidered: Buratto, Filet, Limerick, Nanduli, Reticella, Tambour, Tenerife

Needle lace  – cutwork: Battenburg, Broderie Anglaise, Carrickmacross

Bobbin lace – ancient: Antwerp, Eclesiastical, Freehand, Torchon

Bobbin lace – continental: Binche, Flanders, Mechlin, Paris, Valenciennes

Bobbin lace – point ground: Bayeux, Blonde, Bucks Point, Chantilly, Everen, Lille, Tender

Bobbin lace – guipure: Bedfordshire, Cluny, Genoese, Maltese, Venetian

Bobbin lace – part laces: Bruges, Honiton, Brussels

Tape lace: Mezzopunto, Princess, Renaissance, Romanian point

Knotted lace: Macrame, Tatting

Crocheted lace: Broomstick lace, Irish crochet, Hairpin crochet, Filet crochet

Lace knitting – Shetland

Machine-made lace: warp knit, bobbinet, leavers, pusher

Machine-made lace – hand finished: hand run gimps

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