Thursday, February 4, 2010

Another Stitch Forward...

Surprise, surprise! I didn't let a whole month go past before writing again, Yea Me! January wasn't the best start of a New Year, but ignoring the icky stuff I don't want to talk about, the good moments was worth looking back on.
In the SCA world of things, I didn't do all that much this past month. The one main focus I had before the Coronet event on Jan 16th was my entry for the Arts and Sciences Lacemaking competition. The requirements for this contest was that it needed to be made from metal threads. I will admit that I am very fond of working in linen and cotton fibers and not real enamored of the metal fibers. So, I decided that if I was going to do this, it needed to be a fully thought out piece. I know documentation is my weakest area. I love doing the research online and in the books I can get my hands on, but I have a great deal of difficulty in getting my thoughts on paper. If you can't tell by my blogging here, writing is not my strong skill. For this entry, I once again fell back on that wonderful book by Janet Arnold. In the Patterns of Fashion 4, there is a picture of a ruff that has a thin plaited piece of bobbin lace around the inner edge of the metal frame holding the main lace ruff. Rather than restating all that I put in my documentation, I will put it here, and you can all pick at it :)

Metallic Thread Bobbin Lace
Margery Garret

Bobbin lace making is a technique where multiple bobbins are wound with thread and then “woven” into patterns that can range from the very simple to the more ornate. It is worked on a “pillow” following a pattern of pinholes called a pricking. It is not well known when and where bobbin lace got started, but it is generally agreed upon that it emerged in the early 16th century. Both Flanders and Venice claim to have invented it, but no one truly knows. It is not surprising that metal thread bobbin lace could have originated in Venice. Venice was an important center for the manufacture of metal thread. Milan, Lyon, Paris, and even Aurillac in the Auvergne were also centers for manufacture of metal thread. All these places also became known for metal thread lace. It was quite common for metal thread lace to be made in cities where a metal thread industry had risen from the bullion trade. Silver, gold, and even less valuable metals were used. In the diary of an Elizabethan theatrical entrepreneur, Philip Henslow, he makes many comments regarding his company purchasing copper lace.
In the early days of bobbin lace making, the lace was typically used as insertions and applied to household linens and even some clothing. It was made from threads ranging from bleached linen, colored silks and even silver and gold metallic threads. As the technique spread, it began to imitate the designs that were being made in needle lace. By the time of Elizabeth I, bobbin lace had become much more popular and had begun to move towards the fantastic designs we can see at the height of the eighteenth century.
For my sample piece, I used a picture from Janet Arnold’s book, Patterns of Fashion 4, to create my pricking. The picture shows a close-up view of a bobbin lace ruff attached to its wire frame. Attached over the inner edge of the fan is a thin metal thread bobbin lace trim. Study of the picture shows that the pattern is made up of a single middle braid that is intersected by a second braid that weaves back and forth in a “S” pattern.

Not having a good idea of the size of the original piece, I used graph paper and simply created a pricking in a size that I could use for future projects. I used DMC Fil metallise gold as my thread as it seemed to be similar in appearance to the thread in the picture. It was also a thread suggested by Brenda Paternoster in her Threads for Lace book. It is similar to Japanese gold thread, but is far less expensive (an important consideration in my book). I worked a 6” sample for this competition as well as to keep for my personal reference.
The trim worked up nicely, but I did make a few changes between my piece and the extant example in the picture. My tension is a great deal tighter, and I worked more stitches than in the first piece. I wanted a more sturdy trim, especially if I was to use this for cuffs or collars. The lace is very firm with this particular metal thread. I would hope to try this pattern again with several other metal threads to see how the feel of the lace changes.

My lace:

Anyway, that was what I turned in. Unfortunately I was the only entry :( but Viscountess Eliza chose me as a winner anyway, so it felt nice :) I just would have loved to see another person's take on the exercise. My next lace challenge is to put together a beginner Tennerife class and a beginner bobbin lace class for spring and summer, respectively. I agreed to teach the bobbin lace class at Coronet this summer and I am hoping that it wasn't too big of a bite to take, considering that I am the co-autocrat for that event. I should be able to pull an inexpensive class off with some creative foam as basic pillows, and lollipop stick bobbins, and cotton tatting thread. I do have one or two earlier lace patterns from the early 1500's (ish) that are simple plaits and use anywhere from 2 to 6 pairs. They are good ones to start with.
Outside of Lacemaking, I am trying to get the model piece started for our Arts and Sciences March class on Elizabethan sweete bags. It is mostly a form of crewel work, but I want to include some of the easier bits of stumpwork also. That is the main project for right now SCA wise. I am also working on a canvaswork stitching accessories set that includes a scissor case, needlebook, and pin keep, as well as a box to keep it all in. It is a modern pattern from Wendy KC Designs and it allows me to just indulge in modern threads and stitches. It is also more challenging because of the sheer variety of threads and stitches. I am totally enjoying it. I do hope to get the set finished before the fair in August. We'll see.
I've decided to take a break on doing anything at all towards the Tudor dress I started this blog about. A week or so ago, I got on the scale and did NOT like what I saw there. I have since started making some pretty concrete changes, and I would like to see where those changes take me before I start trying to build a fitted dress.
That is it for now...I have probably forgotten things and misspelled and typo'ed galore, but at least I got something written :)

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