=Lace.= Lace is the name applied to an ornamental open work of threads
of flax, cotton, silk, gold, or silver, and occasionally of mohair or
aloe fiber. The latter are used by the peasants of Italy and Spain.
Lace consists of two parts, the ground and the flower. The threads may
be looped, plaited, or twisted in one of three ways. First, with a
needle, when the work is known as "needlepoint lace." Second, when
bobbins, pins, and a pillow or cushion are used; this is called
"pillow lace." Third, by machinery, when imitations of both point and
pillow lace patterns are produced.
Special patterns for these laces date from the beginning of the
sixteenth century. The early productions of the art had some analogy
to weaving; the patterns were stiff and geometrical, sometimes cut out
of linen or separately sewed and applied to the meshed surface, but
more frequently they were darned in, the stitches being counted in, as
in tapestry. This kind was known as darned netting. With the
development of the renaissance of art, free flowing patterns and
figure subjects were introduced and worked in.
Whether of needlepoint or pillow make, both the ornament and the
ground are produced by the lace maker. Needlepoint is made by first
stitching the net with thread along the outline of a pattern drawn on
paper or parchment, thus producing a skeleton thread pattern. This
threadwork serves as a foundation for the different figures which are
formed in the lace.
Bobbin or pillow lace more nearly resembles weaving. The threads are
fixed upon a circular or square pillow, placed variously to suit the
methods of manufacture in vogue in different countries. The object of
using the pillow is to prevent too much handling of the lace. One end
of each thread is fastened to the cushion with a pin, the main supply
of thread being twined around a small bobbin of wood, bone, or ivory.
The threads are twisted and plaited together by the lace maker, who
throws the bobbins over and under each other. The operation is fairly
simple, since children of eight or nine years of age can be trained to
it successfully. It demands, however, considerable dexterity with the
The design for pillow lace must of course be adapted to the technical
requirements of the process, and cannot therefore be the same as one
for needlepoint, which has a better appearance and greater strength
than pillow lace. For this reason it was in former times generally
preferred for wear on occasions of state. On the other hand, pillow
lace has the quality of charming suppleness, and for use in mantillas,
veils, and fichus it is better than needlepoint, lending itself with
delicate softness and graceful flexibility as a covering to the head
and shoulders of women.
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