Lace Every Way

A Stork's Nest Scarf to Knit by Nancy Bush, PieceWork January/February 2008. Photo by Joe Coca. 
Jo Ann Eurell's Bucks Point lace edging. PieceWork May/June 2012. Photo by Joe Coca.

Last month I had the pleasure of going to the opening of The Intricate Web: Lacemaking, Trade, and Tradition, an exhibition at the Avenir Museum in the Design and Merchandising Department of  Colorado State University (through May 16, 2014). The exhibition follows the history and making of lace as an embellishment as well as a trade and fashion item. The display includes over 100 exquisite pieces from the Avenir’s Ruth Payne Hellmann Lace Collection, including some extraordinary examples of 17th– and 18th-century lace.

That opening night, the guest curator, Jo Ann Eurell, gave a wonderful talk she titled “Lace—A Story in Thread.” Jo Ann has contributed articles to PieceWork and has put in countless hours as a volunteer, photographing, cataloging, and identifying the lace in the Avenir’s collection, and she knows a lot about lace. As part of the history of lace, she presented some fun and curious facts. One of my favorites was about Queen Elizabeth’s zeal for extravagantly large lace ruffs. She wouldn’t tolerate anyone having larger ruffs than hers and stationed citizens at the city gate to cut the ruffs of anyone entering if they were larger than the prescribed size.

Carolyn Wetzel’s Empire Bee stitched in Alençon-style needle lace. PieceWork May/June 2011. Photo by Joe Coca.

Trish Faubion adapted the instructions for the tatted Fuchsia-Design in Points or Edging by Nellie H. Youngburg found in the November 1925 issue of Needlecraft Magazine. PieceWork May/June 2013. Photo by Joe Coca.

I was especially pleased that Jo Ann covered the whole spectrum of techniques for producing lace—bobbin lace, needle lace, tatting, crocheting, and knitting, not limiting her discussion to any one process. We include all of these lace techniques in PieceWork, so I know them well, but I am a knitter, primarily (although, I’m desperately trying to be a tatter, too!), so when I think lace, I see knitted lace edgings, intricate shawls, and detailed charts of yarnovers and k2togs. And it’s only natural that we immediately focus on our favorite techniques, but how one craft can be fed by another is one of the running threads in the story of lace. It’s also a running thread in PieceWork as we feature numerous techniques in each issue, honoring that intricate web of needlecraft.