';
Powered by Blogger.

Oh the Lace!

Genevieve told me the most fascinating story about a book she just read.  I KNOW you will want to hear about it so I bring her words to you:

"I have just finished the most fabulous book, "The Lace Reader" by Brunonia Barry. Firstly, what a great name the writer has! Secondly, this quirky book has me looking up everything I can about the history of lace. The book centers around something called "Ipswich Lace", named after the town of Ipswich in Massachusetts.  In it's early times, Ipswich was a thriving harbor, and lace was brought into port by ships from Europe. Over about 125 years, the harbor entrance filled up with silt, and the port of Ipswich was no longer a main port.

Diane's Lace Blog


In 1750, a group of women in Ipswich began making lace. It was different than much of the lace being created at the time because it was done with bobbins and pins, on a pillow, like you see above. Lace was a tremendous sign of social status at this time. And Ipswich lace, with it's delicate netted background, became the most sought after lace in the world. Believe it or not, this was the very first all women industry in America! One yard of Ipswich lace was worth a cord of wood, or 16 pounds of sheep's wool. In a town of 601 households, at it's lace-making height, Ipswich could boast having 600 lace makers. Apparently the minister's wife did not make lace....



George Washington was a huge fan of lace, (oh those were the days!), and visited Ipswich more than once to see the textile industry up close. Apparently it was all about the cuffs and the collars at the time.




Then, as with all things, the men had to get in on it. In the early 1800's a netting machine was created. While the men managed the machines that created the basic mesh of the lace, the ladies would embellish the netting.

And 20 years later, the ladies were out of their jobs. A 200 year industry gone to machines that could do it all for you. While not a satisfying ending, "The Lace Reader" does have a satisfying ending. The characters have seeped into my head and I keep expecting to see them again."

Do any of you make lace?  We will have to see if I can restrain myself from trying to learn how make lace!!!

charlotte2  – (March 10, 2012 at 7:56 AM)  
This comment has been removed by the author.
charlotte2  – (March 10, 2012 at 7:57 AM)  

Lace is a very interest subject.
I'm learning to do lace now. I've just started a fan. I have a very good lace teacher Carol Burden.She does classes and on Thursday evening I go to her with 9 other girls. Some of the girls have been making lace for over 30 years.

Orna Willis  – (March 10, 2012 at 5:16 PM)  

Maybe you could send us some photos of your work to put on the blog? That would be fun to see!

Anonymous –   – (March 12, 2012 at 12:02 PM)  

Orna,
I am, over many many months, attempting to teach myself bobbin lacemaking using an excellent how-to book. So far, only making strips of samples -- nothing exciting to show off yet. This is something I've wanted to learn for many years, and finally took the plunge. I'm not aware of anyone locally who can teach me, so I'm doing it on my own.
Thanks for the post and photos. Need more info on that book, please!
Lynn in southern NJ
P.S. I've registered for ANG Seminar and your class is my first choice. Am crossing my fingers.

Lelia  – (March 12, 2012 at 4:49 PM)  

I've tried (just basics). Loads of info on IOLI . org site.

Orna Willis  – (March 13, 2012 at 10:48 AM)  

More info about the book: It's by Brunonia Barry. It's a contemporary novel about a girl from Ipswich who is a bit of a mess, returning to Ipswich after many years. She is the grand-daughter of a lacemaker and "Lace Reader" --the equivalent of a tarot reader, but you make the predictions by "reading the lace". It's a really good read--you can get it on Amazon, or at any bookstore. I believe it was on the NY Times list for quite awhile, but I am being lazy and not checking that :) so I might be mixing that up--G

Post a Comment

About This Blog

©Orna Willis
All images, text, and content on this site are the sole property of Orna Willis and may not be used, copied or transmitted without the express consent of Orna Willis. Any other inquiries please email me at orna@ornadesign.com

Blog Archive