PieceWork May/June 2018—Our 11th-Annual Lace Issue

Here we go again—our annual Lace Issue of PieceWork! It’s our eleventh look at this extraordinary fabric, which continues to captivate. Although the techniques for making lace vary—from bobbin and needle to knitted, crocheted, and tatted—the stories behind the creations keep this theme on our perennial list. The offerings in this issue are no exception.


The Story of “Ma’s” Laces, 1914–1918, Her Response to the Trauma of Wartime by Kerry and Carol Brooksbank. “Ma” is the family name for Louise Liénaux-Vergauwe. Collection of the Brooksbank family. The photograph on the cover of the book at left shows Louise Liénaux-Vergauwe working at her bobbin-lace pillow in Antwerp, Belgium.

When Evelyn McMillan, who wrote about lacemakers in Belgium in the May/June 2017 issue (see “Gratitude in Lace: World War I, Famine Relief, and Belgian Lacemakers”), inquired about sharing a different story on an individual lacemaker for this issue, I immediately said “yes.” The first few sentences from Evelyn’s article, “Subversive Lace,” set the scene:

“Louise Liénaux-Vergauwe (born in 1890), a young Belgian wife and mother, created six exceptional pieces of pictorial lace during World War I (1914–1918). She used this unlikely medium to express her thoughts on the German occupation of her country, to offer her own form of resistance to the invaders, and as a way to cope with her grief over the separation of her family by the war. Through her highly political depictions of the realities of the war, Louise both commented on and celebrated her country’s perseverance in its fight against the German army that had overrun Belgium, a small neutral country.”

Louise, her family, and her lace survived the war. Her story adds new meaning to the words “indomitable” and “courageous.” I know her story will enthrall you as it did me.

Before starting to work on this issue, I knew nothing about a Spanish needle lace called frisado de Valladolid. I am delighted I know about it now. Made with gold, silver, and silk threads, frisado dates to the sixteenth century and adorned church linens and household items. Because the gold and silver threads were made with real metals, this lace was only available to the rich and powerful. Carolyn Wetzel provides the background in “Spanish Frisado de Valladolid Needle Lace: Treasures in Gold, Silver, and Silk.” Outstanding examples of this sumptuous lace are in several collections. That any survived the centuries is miraculous—an untold number of items made with precious metals were literally picked apart in order to recoup the metals.

Mary Bush turned to Spain as well for her article “The Lace Mantilla: A Centuries-Old Spanish Tradition.” That intrigue played many roles in the lives of mantillas is a surprise.

These are just a few examples from this issue. There’s much more.

The history of lace is wrapped up in stories of survival, subterfuge, and the sheer joy of being able to create something with just thread or yarn and a few simple tools. Long live lace!


Get your copy of PieceWork’s 11th Lace Issue!