Wednesday 24 February 2016

Limerick lace

I’ve been trying to pin down exactly what Limerick lace is. I always thought it was needlerun lace on net, but various descriptions seem to suggest it is any lace made in Limerick, whether tambour, neelderun or variations on embroidery. Mrs F Nevill Jackson in her book ‘Old handmade lace’ describes it as being of three varieties which she describes as tambour (using chain stitch on machine made net), run (coarse threads are run upon net), and applique (cambric or net is overlaid on net, sewn down and the background then cut away) – which sounds like what I would call Carrickmacross lace. Matthew Potter in his recent book about the Limerick lace industry entitled ‘Amazing lace’ describes Limerick as coming in two forms: tambour and needlerun. He says Charles Walker introduced tambour lace to Limerick in 1829 and that needlerun lace was introduced by the late 1830s by Jonas Rolf. Limerick does therefore seem to be a catch all name for a variety of lace types, which are linked more by their design and final appearance than by the techniques that made them.  

Friday 19 February 2016

Veil making

I’ve cut out the pattern for my first veil. I was going to use a commercial pattern but some of those have quite a large periphery, which would mean I had to make 360 cm of lace to go right the way round even the smallest. I’ve therefore decided to make my own from a rectangular shape folded back on itself. That means I have to make 145 cm of lace – still a lot but not quite as much as for the circular style. I’ve also bought hair combs for the veils and I’ve got some old artificial flowers which look suitably antique so I can gather the veiling up and attach it to the combs and flowers to make it look more realistic.

Tuesday 16 February 2016

A flavour of lace

I’ve been photographing some lace, for the exhibition I’m sharing with Gail Baxter at the Knitting and Stitching show in the autumn, for the promotional website and leaflets. Apart from the usual difficulties of photographing white, delicate lace, the problem is compounded because I haven’t made half of it yet! That’s the trouble with producing a new body of work for a show, they want the advertising photos before you’ve done the work! It is all underway – I have two lace patterns on my pillows and have made a start on my veil with the pinned fringe. I’ve also bought veiling and patterns to make the veils. I also have the materials and patterns for the silk paper veils, but I want to make those when the weather improves and I can dry them outside in the sun. To overcome the problem of lack of finished pieces I’ve decided to supply images that give a flavour of my lace rather than images of the actual pieces I’ll be showing. So I have taken some photos of silk paper and spidery stitching, some with cut lace, and some with menacing pins. I think the flavour is ‘ethereal lace with a hint of menace’! 

Tuesday 9 February 2016

Goldilocks lace!

The Goldilocks planet is the way astronomers describe the Earth. In the same way that Goldilocks ate the porridge that was just right, not too hot or too cold, the conditions on Earth make it just right for the formation of life. I realise the lace I’m making at the moment for my veiling series is just right too – the number of bobbins isn’t too great or too small, they fit neatly on the pillow but give a pleasing spread. The pattern includes two repeats so is reasonably demanding and interesting but not complicated. I can get two and a bit repeats completed in an hour so I feel I’m making progress. Because I’m using a travel pillow the lace is easy to transport and I can make it anywhere. Also because it’s easy to pick up and put down I find I can work at it in spare moments unlike a large or complicated pattern which requires time to get settled to. All in all – Goldilocks lace!  

Thursday 4 February 2016

Leavers lace

I’ve been reading the series of booklets written by David Lowe and Jack Richards about lace in Nottingham and was surprised to discover that John Leavers (or Levers – the spelling seems to have changed over the years) actually moved to France and built many of his lace machines there. John Leavers was born in 1786 in Sutton-in-Ashfield and trained as a ’setter up’ of lace machines in Radford. He spent two years developing his own lace machine in Nottingham and produced a prototype in 1813. The history by Lowe and Richards says that he became disillusioned by the Nottingham lace trade and in 1821 he moved to France with his two brothers. They settled near Rouen, in Grande Courenne, and started building lace machines there, which became the basis of the lace industry in Calais. John’s first wife died childless in 1824 and he then married Francoise Massiotty from Brussels. His two sons from his second marriage both worked in the lace industry; William, the eldest seems to have stayed in France, but Edward returned to Nottingham to build lace machines. John died in France in 1848, and a street in Grande Courenne is named after him, but William and his mother seem to have continued with the family lace business. If you want to read more of the story I recommend ‘The lace heritage’ by Lowe and Richards. The image above also comes from the book and shows Leavers and Raschel laces.