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Full text of " A lace guide for makers and collectors; with bibliography and five-language nomenculture, profusely illus. My Dear Miss Burt : Most of us must put aside costly pleasures now that America is fighting by the side and under the tutelage of the fine, old, lace-making countries ; offering them willing hands, keen eyes, and much besides ; ready to succor and nurse them until they can again clothe fair lands with rich artistic skill ; ready among other things to bring home something of the old world's mellow charm, that the joy of beauty as well as practical ability and high morale may be instilled in American boys and girls.
America is eager indeed to encourage art ; that is, the harmony of the material, a link drawing the physical towards the spiritual, and adding to the utilitarian a simple grace, an uplifting charm.
But in spite of the sacrifices necessary to aid and save our elder sisters and to develop the best that is in us, we shall not have to forego love and friendly fellowship and gratitude. So the costs of war and doctors cannot take from me either the pleasure of association with you or gratitude for your freely given afternoons, helping me to mount these illustrations for the printer when my arms were too lame to work, and for your unselfish patience and encourage- ment. Having unruly arms and other ailments, is truly worth while when it points the way to generous hearts and kind, new friends!
Sincerely, Gertrude Whiting. And in that future there will be emulation, if not rivalry, among the peoples of the earth.
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And the victor 's wreath, as well as more substantial fruits will be given to those who can produce most cunningly the things that peaceful people desire — such as chairs, tables, beds, clothing, utensils, adornments, jew- elry, and all things of use or ornament that make men comfortable and tend to to make them joyous. This little manual is the outcome of six summers' work under the encour- agement of the lace director of the Metropolitan Museum.
Eealization of the fact that in the museum had few examples of meshes except such as ap- peared in scattered bits throughout the delightful collection of berthas, trains, fichus, et cetera, that it was difficult to compare the effects of these stitches worked in different sized threads, in designs and spaces of varying forms, and at different ends of the rooms, and that the few mesh specimens the galleries had, were more or less scantily named, the suggestion arose that a comparative, indexed sampler of bobbin lace grounds and fillings be made.
It is hoped that it may prove of use to students of stitchery in general, — or of bobbin lace in particular, — to see how certain meshes are woven; that it may aid those planning to produce lace, either by hand or machine, in comparing and judging effects, in advance, and that it may assist collectors and classifiers to identify lace : for after all, it is the actual stitch which finally determines a variety, only certain meshes being used in a lace of pure type.
As different authors and localities use diverse names for the same thing, several appelations have been indicated for many of the samples. The index down the two sides of the sampler should be used as one given with a map :— tracing down from the number noted at the top, and inwards from the letter at the side: the point of junction showing the lace in question.
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Nor were all by any means exhausted : but some limit had to be chosen, so it was decided to stop when an even gross of samples, or a half-dozen seasons' work had been completed. The two extra meshes illustrated over and above the twelve dozen, are the bobbin-made bands which frame and connect the whole, and one little sample made at the very end for fun, partly because the extra pattern was already drawn, and partly because of a dislike to show preference to one little mite, consigning the other to the waste paper basket — though many ought doubtless to be there.
Perhaps a word of explanation should be said about the twenty Trude Grounds. They are fancies of the maker's imagination, thrown in for what- ever they may be worth; perhaps out of pique, just to show that, rudimentary as they may be, America has at least the beginnings of an ability to originate her own lace. Penderel Moody writes, "Fillings should be to the lace-maker what a jewel is to the goldsmith. The choice of each for its particular setting will call for the exercise of equal taste and discretion.
These stitches are known as ' modes, ' or ' jours,' in the great outside world, of which the village worker knows so little ; needless to say such terms are unknown in the West Country, where as often as not, we talk of them as 'villins. Here it rests with the worker to decide which is the most suitable stitch to use, and the best point at which to hang on.
Naturally, this is a saving of trouble, but the worker must bear in mind when pricking her filling that if, to avoid the use of extra bobbins, she works at a wrong angle, the effect of her work is spoilt. Arch- itects' tracing-cloth can be laid over the designs in the book, the cloth moved along two inches at a time until as long a pattern as desired has been traced.
Black, waterproof ink is the best for this purpose. The tracing need not be mounted, but can be laid upon Bristol or press-board for greater strength, the same pins holding both board and tracing-paper in place. At first glance the mesh-making instructions will seem bewildering: but if each one is read entirely through just before using it, and then is followed step by step, the making of the lace will unfold without real difficulty. The descriptions are not intended for the absolute beginner; but, on the contrary, presuppose a little knowledge of how to handle the bob- bins ; and of how to adapt or transfer a coveted groundwork to the lace in which it is to be used, or to make of it a plain, solid, insertion by simply adding an ap- propriate edge or finish.
However, the privilege has been taken of adding a few general remarks and instructions that it is hoped may not be considered too irrelevant; particularly as they are the result of only limited, personal ex- perience.
The more the author studies, the deeper she inquires, the better she realizes the possibilities and complexities of her subject, and the likelihood of error and confusion. There are several books of manual instruction for bobbin- lace beginners, among them : — "The Priscilla Bobbin Lace Book. Marguerite de Brieuvres. Library Encyclopedia of Needlework" translated into all prin- cipal languages by Therese de Dillmont. Penderel Moody. In an article written some years ago, Mrs. Florence Gr. The girls work from nine to twelve, and from two to four.
The patterns are all dark colors.
They wear clean cotton dresses and dark cotton aprons. Take note, feminine reader, you who put on a dazzling white apron when you sit down to fine work! It was my good fortune to see the girls come out at noon.
They wear a cotton kerchief pinned over the head to keep their hair clean. Their shoes are simply a sole of wood held on by a leather strap over the instep.
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At every step, the wooden sole clicks on the street. As the girls poured out of the shop, the noise of their shoes reached us a block away, until the whole three hundred pairs of wooden soles clicking over the stone pave- ment produced in me much the same feeling as the musical rattle of hundreds of lace-bobbins. I was full of theories when I went to Europe : my experience with the girls in our shop had been that lace-making first of all is a joy to the worker. It is a pursuit so refined, so ennobling, that this fact alone is a plea for our industry in Boston.
In Europe, my theories proved true. In the lace-makmg villages, the women are of superior type.
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They are never idle. Their manners and voices are gentle. Their work is a constant joy.
Do not believe all the constantly published paragraphs about lace-makers going blind in factories! The lace is no longer made under painful conditions — in damp cellars. Good lace-makers are valuable to their employers and skill is to be treasured, not abused.
They do not work in dark rooms at all, but in upper stories of well-lighted and well-ventilated buildings. Personal cleanliness is essential at all times. Channer and M.
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Koberts gives us another glimpse into the life of the lace- maker, showing us that in England as in Italy "there is a freemasonry between lace workers which, once formed, is very strong; a feeling of kinship which is not easily understood by those outside' ' — the "spell that lace seldom fails to throw over its devotees.
The old mother living in the son's or daughter's house, past being any assistance in the housework, feels the delight of not being ia burden on the hard-pressed children. She can sit at her pillow part of the day and earn the four or five shillings a week which keeps her.
Perhaps to the aged the occupation is almost as great a boon as the earn- ings, and this accounts for the intense pleasure with which the work is almost always spoken of. When sons and daughters are all grown up and gone away, the long days may be unspeakably dull to the old couple, but the wife can always make herself happy turning over the bobbins. We went to see a widow, over eighty years old, living all alone, and tried to buy some of her beautiful lace. When the housework is done, and the children are all away at school, she can sit down and work for a couple of hours, and the week's earnings will be a comfortable addition to her man's wages, especially when there is a large family.
There is no other industry so convenient for the home. It is clean work and needs cleanliness, for lace must be spotlessly white if the worker is to get her full price. It creates no litter and no untidiness. The pillow stands by the window with a cloth thrown over it and the chair ready before it.
When baby is put to sleep, the mother has but to lift the cloth and begin her work : there is no getting out of material and implements, and no put- ting away and clearing up when the children come home to tea. Where certain other work is taken at home, the littered floor and whirring machine make an unpleasant contrast to the tidiness and quietness of the bobbins with their little subdued rattle so pleasant to the ear. Lace-making is not tiring, nor in any way trying; given suitable spectacles for the old women, it is not at all trying to the eyes — indeed, an expert worker on a lace she knows well, looks at it no more than a needlewoman looks at a long seam.
It is not monotonous work, for even in the simplest lace the pattern creates a variety of motion and sufficient occupation for the mind. C'est l'ideal d'un travail feminin, peu fatigant, presque recreatif, distingue, s'exercant a la maison; dans la belle saison, en plein air ou sous les pommiers ; procurant aux enf ants un salaire presque immediat, permettant aux vieilles de gagner quelque argent jusqu'a la mort.
By Pieter van den Bosch. When in doubt, when in dread, When her sky's overblown, To the plier of thread — Gentle artist unknown — Comes the blessing of work, Of her fine, quiet work.
Her poor form can relax As with pillow she sits, Deftly weaving the flax That is wound on her sticks, On her bobbins is wound, To their spindles is bound.
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Oh, such merry tools these, Quaintly carved and turned, Tinkling, trying to please With the lullabies, learned As they twist, mingle, toss In life's take, give and cross! As the rhythmic repeat Of their come and their go Soon becalms by its beat, By its cadences, so Her resistance it smoothes, It uplifts and it soothes. From her fingers is shed By the exercise light All the nerve-poison bred Through her worrisome plight It unconsciously slips, As it were, from their tips.
Unpreoccupied, free And receptive at last, Like the heart of a wee Little child, unharrassed, Is the thread worker's soul, Ay, her patient-grown soul.
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From the Author's collection. Marriage, the writer says : — "Here I should like to protest against the hide-bound conservatism that rules — sad to say — especially in women's handicrafts.
Why should we so illib- erally cling to some traditional way of holding the hands in our work as the only correct one 1 Why cannot we recognize the fact that our hands are shaped differently, the strength of our muscles balanced differently, that some are stronger in the wrist, some in the fingers, and so can never use their force to best advantage by all trying to pose themselves in some one accepted tra- ditional way?
It is possible in this way for some to econo- mize the time they would spend in taking up and setting down the pairs in use. But that is no reason why the beginner should feel herself clumsy and amateurish because she can work better with only two pair in hand at a time. This is much less confusing, and I have known a fairly experienced worker to waste more than the time she gained in having the bobbins so close at hand, by being obliged to undo a good part of her work because she had got hold of the wrong pairs.
The Flemish lace-makers, who work very fast indeed, retain no bobbins in the hands, but let them all lie in a row on a stiff card fastened across the pillow, lifting each bobbin in turn over the next. There is no need to follow slavishly the rules laid down in this or in any other book, in order to become expert. If the instructions given here appear precise and dogmatic, it is be- cause to give a choice of methods confuses and worries the beginner, not that only one road ' leads to Borne.
The amateur has no need to turn herself into a machine, and cannot ex- pect to work as fast as if she did so.
Lace-making is a pleasant and soothing employment; if it 1 excites the nerves,' as I have heard German ladies com- plain, it is because the worker does not take it in the right spirit, either re- garding it as a task to be finished quickly, or as an opportunity of 'showing off. This upright, cylin- drical pillow, used also by the revivors of Swiss lace-making, can be placed in an adjustable easel-like stand, or its lower end put upon the worker's knees, while the upper end leans upon a chair-back, against a table-edge or wall ; or should the lace-maker be outdoors, a tape or ribbon can be secured behind the pillow by a pin, then this band can be crossed over and behind the worker's shoulders, brought forward and tied around the waist.
The disadvantage of this last method is that when one leans forward to inspect a certain point, the pillow tips for- ward with one. Should the chair-backs available be rounded up instead of being scooped, a soft pillow, or a divided air-cushion placed between cushion and chair will keep the former from rolling or sliding.
No basket, box, table or foot-stool is necessary. The work is level with the eyes, avoiding a bent-necked, stoop- ing, hollow-chested position, making it unnecessary to hold the arms in a tire- some, spread-eagle way above the work, but allowing the elbows to fall naturally, for the bobbins hang down into the hands, making it possible to manipulate six- teen at once, instead of lifting one slowly above another ; or in an effort to hurry, throwing one out of place too far beyond the other.