Knitted Lace through the Ages

Peruvian Burial Doll

Peruvian Burial Doll

I received my May/June 2015 issue of PieceWork magazine a week or so ago, and when I flipped through it, I was captivated by the little lace-winged doll at right. She has such an interesting story.

According to Judith McKenzie’s article “Peruvian Burial Doll,” these dolls are from the Chancay culture (A.D. 1000-1470s). They were placed in graves, and there is much speculation on what their purpose was. The one that seems most likely is that they were meant as companions for the departing soul, like guardian angels.

Here’s Jeane Hutchins to tell you more about this fascinating issue of PieceWork.

The Lace that Connects Us

If you have been tuning in each year for PieceWork‘s annual look at lace, you know that I adore lace. Although most traditional textiles served a utilitarian purpose-to warm, to cover, to protect-lace’s raison d’être always has been to ornament.

Anne Berk's heirloom shawl

Anne Berk’s heirloom shawl

To make any type of lace, one has to make connections. It all comes down to this-connecting threads, connecting people, connecting the past to the present.

This issue pays homage to those connections with two personal family stories that showcase multigenerational lace connections: “Common Threads: A Story about Five Generations of Women Connected by Lace” by Nancy Ann Haffner and Andrea Jurgrau and “Martha’s Lace Mystery” by Anne Berk.

There’s another mystery in this issue as well. On September 5, 1856, the steamboat Arabia hit a hidden snag on the Missouri River. Happily, all the passengers and crew were able to escape before the boat and its cargo sank. When the river shifted its course, the Arabia was left under 45 feet (13.5 m) of mud in a Kansas field.

David Hawley discovered the Arabia in 1987, and, with the help of family and friends, began to excavate the boat and its cargo in 1988. Among the tens of thousands of items recovered was one length of black bobbin lace. Bart Elwell in his “Lace of the Arabia” asks: “[H]ow could such a fine web of black threads measuring about 1 by 22½ inches (2.5 by 57.1 cm) not have been cast aside during the muddy dig?”

I think it’s just one more testament to the magic, mystery, and power of lace.

—Jeane Hutchins, PieceWork magazine

A Lace Pillow à la Orenburg

A Lace Pillow à la Orenburg

Galina A. Khmeleva created a beautiful lace pillow for this issue (at right). Here’s her design story: “For this project, I combined two basic design elements in the border segments: Diagonals and Strawberries. Diagonals create a ‘bow-tie’ motif, often used in Orenburg-style lace knitting. I also used the Orenburg warm-shawl construction method.

I chose Shetland-style lace knitting for the center segment, but I reversed the usual direction: that is, I knitted this segment from outside to inside. I used Orenburg Diagonals to create the flower motif in the center. I have always believed that the Shetland and Orenburg lace knitting styles have many similarities that make them good partners in creating fine lace.”

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