Techniques and material

What sort of material was used for lace-making earlier and what is used today? What is characteristic of freehand lace-making? We will try to answer these questions here.

Early lace makers would have used a kind of stiff ”cushion”. The lace-making box was not introduced in Scania until the beginning of the 19th century. A roller on top of the box received the finished lace. This roller was stuffed with anything you might find around the house: recycled old socks, bits of trouser leg or cow’s hair. The cover was often striped or chequered fabric that made it easier to stick in the pins in a straight line. The early bobbins were hand-carved, later they were turned. The flax yarn was home-spun and fairly coarse.

What is freehand lace-making?

Typical of freehand lace-making in Scania is that it is made without a pattern. Instead, an original is used as a guide. Early in the history of lace-making it would be a piece of lace provided by, for example, a neighbour. Modern lace-makers normally use a picture.

Another typical feature is that you only use pins along the edges (with some exceptions). Because of this, the threads tend to glide together and produce a more compact lace. The repeats are never exactly the same length, and there are small details, solved in different ways by different lace makers, that cannot be discerned by an untrained eye; what counts is the overall impression. This means that it is sometimes possible to determine the provenance of a particular lace.

It is sometimes hard to distinguish a freehand lace from a machine-made lace. Machine-made lace is completely even with unbroken threads along the sides. If you pull one of these, the lace will pucker.