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.
For instance, this exquisite 46″ cloth dates from the late 19th century.
And it’s still being practiced today, as evidenced by this charming sachet pattern available for purchase from Scrappykatz Craft Barn: