LACE. Is a species of net-work made of silk, thread, or cotton, upon which in old times patterns were embroidered by the needle after its construction. It is now, however, almost always formed du ring the construction. The best laces are made at Mechlin, Brussels, Antwerp, Ghent, and Valenciennes. In the British dominions, at Nottingham, and Limerick. The real lace, such as was worn by the dowagers of the last century, is formed principally of flax thread, and is wholly worked by hand, not only in the decora tive parts, but in the mesh-work ground itself. The bobbin-net of modern times is made of cotton thread ; the meshes being made wholly by machinery ; and the figured device (if any) being effected sometimes by the same machine and at the same time as the ground, and some times by a kind of embroidery or tam bour-work. The silk net, such as the material of which black veils are some times made, is, as its name imports, made of silk thread, and is formed by machine ry very nearly on the same principle as bobbin-net.
At what period and in what country this elegant material was originally first wrought for dress Cannot perhaps be easily determined. It has been supposed that Mary de Medici was the first who brought lace into France from Venice, where, and in the neighboring states of It aly, lace seems to have been long previous ly worn. It is recorded that lace-masking was introduced into England by some refugees from Flanders, who settled near Cranfield, now a village on the west side of Bedfordshire, and adjoining Bucking hamshire ; and it has been supposed that the first kind so made in England was that which is called Brussels point, the net-work being made by bone bobbins on a pillow, and the pattern and sprigs being worked with a needle.
The working of hand-made or "pillow lace" may be thus briefly described : The lace-maker sits on a stool or chair, and places a hard cushion on her lap. The desired pattern is sketched upon a piece of parchment, which is then laid down upon the cushion ; and she inserts a number of pins through the parchment into the cushion, in places determined by the pattern. She is also provided with a number of small bobbins, on which threads are wound ; fine thread being used for making the meshes or net, and a coarser kind, called gimp or gimp, for working the device. The work is begun
at the upper part of the cushion by tying together the threads in pairs, and each pair is attached to one of the pins through the cushion. The threads are then twisted one round another in various ways, according to the pattern, the bob bins serving as handles as well as for store of material, and the pins serving as knots orfixed points, or centres round which the threads may be twisted. The pins inserted in the cushion at the com mencement are merely to hold the threads ; but as each lit,tie mesh is made in the progress of the working, other pins are inserted, to prevent the threads from untwisting ; and the device on the parchment shows where these insertions are to occur.
The pillow-made, or bone-lace, which formerly gave occupation to multitudes of women in their own houses, has, in the progress of mechanical invention, been nearly superseded by the bobbin-net lace, manufactured at first by hand-ma chines, as stockings are knit upon frames, but recently by the power of water or steam. Tins elegant texture possesses all the strength and regularity of the old Buckingham lace, and is far superior in these respects to the point-net and warp lace, which had preceded, and in some measure paved the way for it.
The threads in bobbin-net lace form, by their intertwisting and decussation, regular hexagonal holes or meshes, of which the two opposite sides, the upper and under, are directed along the breadth of the piece, or at right angles to the selvage or border. By the crossing and twisting of the threads, the regu lar six-sided mesh is produced, and the texture results from the union of three separate sets of threads, of which one set proceeds downwards in serpentine lines, a second set proceeds from the left to the right, and a third from the right to the left, both in slanting di rections. These oblique threads twist themselves round the vertical ones, and also cross each other betwixt them, in a peculiar manner. In comparing bobbin net with a common web, the perpendicu lar threads, which are parallel to the border, may be regarded as the warp, and the two sets of slanting threads, as the weft.