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Inspiration Gallery: Reticella

Friday, January 28th, 2011
By Twistie

The above is an illustration from Les Singuliers et Nouveaux Pourtraicts by Federico de Vinciolo, 1587. It’s a pattern for reticella, an  early form of needle lace.

So what precisely is reticella? It’s actually an extreme form of drawn thread work, wherein most of the threads in the interior of the piece are drawn out. The few remaining threads are then embroidered over in fanciful patterns, like the one above.

While its general popularity waned by the middle of the 17th century, reticella has continued to be practiced by needleworkers all over the world.


Ancient Art, Newfangled Instruction Method

Friday, December 10th, 2010
By Twistie

One of the things I love best about the internet is the way it brings people together from all over the world. Through this connection, ideas and skills that might otherwise die out can be revived. For instance, the internet is helping build a renaissance of lace making, and one of the people doing her part is Doreen Holmes. She’s the lady who made the gorgeous needlelace flower shown above, as well as this rather spectacular needlelace peacock below.


Getting Started Tossing Bobbins

Wednesday, December 8th, 2010
By Twistie


This is a fully dressed lace pillow. Looks scary, huh? All those bobbins that all look different. All those pins. All that… stuff.

When you get right down to it, though, bobbin lace is not a difficult craft to pick up. While there are challenges to last a lifetime and dozens of different styles to master, at any given moment, bobbin lace boils down to just a couple different moves using no more than four threads at a time. As for the bobbins, they’re just thread holders with handles so that you can manipulate the threads without touching them. It doesn’t matter in the work whether they all match perfectly or look quite different. Just don’t mix Midlands and Continental bobbins.

Frankly, if you can tell your right from your left and have basic manual dexterity, you can learn to make bobbin lace. There’s plenty of fine-tuning, of course, but given that children as young as six used to be professional bobbin lacemakers all over Europe, you start to realize that the essentials aren’t exactly rocket science.

But where do you learn how to do it? And where do you get the basic tools?



Thursday, December 2nd, 2010
By Twistie


Tatting is a lovely craft with a long history… well, dating back to the early 19th century, anyway. It’s been practiced by queens (quite literally, when Lady Katharine Hoare wrote a popular book of tatting instructions and patterns in 1910, she included work by Marie of Romania) and by random women nobody outside their families ever knew much about. Traditionally,  it’s done with a shuttle, as in the above illustration.

But what if you don’t have a shuttle? What if you tried a shuttle and found it awkward but would still like to try the craft? What if you’re just curious about alternative methods? Have I got some YouTube links for you!


Well I’ll be Hanged!

Thursday, October 28th, 2010
By Twistie


We often think of crafts and the people who make them as gentle and refined. But then, we  craft and we aren’t always that gentle or refined. The fact is that people who craft, whether for amusement or a living, run a wide gamut. It’s also a fact that people have always been interested in the macabre.

And this leads to the story of hanging bobbins.

Bobbins are the tools bobbin lacemakers use to hold their threads. In most places, they are simple. For instance, the bobbins in this detail of Caspar Nectscher’s 1664 painting, The Lacemaker, shows a style of bobbin that’s similar to modern Belgian and German bobbins.


Note that they are simple wooden spindles with a somewhat bulbous end and little if any decoration to them. Their job is to be utilitarian and that’s it.

But for some reason, in the Midlands area of England, bobbins got a lot more whimsical. They were often decoratively turned, and since they lack the bulb on the end, they feature a ring of beads called a ‘spangle’ at the bottom for extra weight and better tension. Painting, decorative metal bitts, and even writing were not uncommon, as you can see from this photograph of Midlands lace bobbins from the Cowper & Newton Museum.


Disclaimer: Manolo the Shoeblogger is not Manolo Blahnik
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