When Spiders and Crochet Hooks Meet, Lace Is Born

A note from Marcy: For thinkers and threadies*, PieceWork is a crocheter's dream. Tucked in among the lovely projects and textile histories in the magazine, you will frequently find crochet gems. And in the current issue focusing on lace, you don't have to look hard to find crochet: There are three pieces, including the results of the magazine's Crochet Challenge II. Here's Jeane Hutchins, editor of PieceWork, to tell about the lacy treasures in this issue:

(*threadie (noun) a crocheter beguiled, even obsessed, by crochet designs worked in thread with an itty-bitty steel hook. You know who you are.)

Here's Jeane:

Welcome to the 3rd Annual Lace Issue of PieceWork!

The word “lace” comes from the Latin verb laqueare, “to ensnare.” That makes perfect sense when you consider nature’s consummate lacemaker, the spider. Many believe that lace originated in efforts to reproduce a spider’s web.

Since the sixteenth century, when people first created the openwork fabric that would come to be called “lace,” lace has been much more than personal adornment. Lace made and broke national economies. Women and men, many with more money than sense, died trying to possess the finest examples. Smugglers devised creative and even ghoulish ways to avoid paying taxes and duties on it; and laws were enacted that attempted to restrict who could wear it.

The lace that unleashed Crochet Challenge II: “Maltese Edging” from Mlle. Riego’s 1865 book. 

Martha Ess used metallic embroidery floss to crochet the Maltese Edging at the top;  Kathleen Dyck (bottom), using size 30 cotton thread.

Bart Elwell crocheted this Maltese Edging using silk sewing thread.
(photos by Joe Coca)

I confess—I adore lace! I don’t actually wear lacy things except for my prized knitted-lace Orenburg shawl and not-subtle lime socks, but I am totally fascinated by lace and how it’s made. So putting together the May/June issue of PieceWork—our third annual special issue on the magic and mystery of lace—was a dream. Each story, each piece of lace speaks so eloquently to the beauty and value of work done by someone’s hand. Some of those hands are lost in history; others belong to lacemakers of today who are carrying on the tradition brilliantly. Here are some highlights:

•See the results of PieceWork’s Crocheted-Lace Challenge II! We asked readers to work the “Maltese Edging” from Mlle. Riego’s Crochet Book, Eighteenth Series, for Cluny, Guipure d’Art, and Maltese Laces (London, 1865)
•Find out if Maltese crochet, Maltese lace, guipure, and hairpin crochet are connected—the answer may surprise you
•Learn how to use painter's tape to rescue thread crochet projects.
•You’ll learn how ardent knitters are keeping the life and designs of Herbert Niebling, a grand master of lace knitting, alive; instructions for knitting the Niebling–inspired bag shown on the cover are included
•Explore “The Great Pretender: Dresden Lace Embroidery” and use the instructions to make a beautiful Dresden lace gift bag with only two embroidery stitches
•View a charming sample book with tatted lace motifs from the 1920s and 1930s
•Plus photographs showing how point de gaze (French for “lace of gauze”) needle lace is made; a lace wedding veil a mother knitted for her daughter; the centuries-old tradition of bobbin lacemaking in Spain; Galina Khmeleva’s “An Orenburg Honeycomb Lace Scarf to Knit”; and much more! (see the table of contents here)
If you love lace, you’ll love this issue of PieceWork; it testifies to lace’s widespread and enduring appeal!



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