I'm a devotee of the remarkable needle lace work of the Czech artist Luba Krejci (example attached). The few descriptions of her work I've been able to find indicate that she worked with linen cord. I'm only familiar with linen for knitting and crochet - which softens - and also linen for warping looms - which is pretty stiff stuff. Krejci's pieces were stretched as wall hangings. I'm hoping to use here techniques (or what I can glean from images) to make a few hangings of my own.
Can anyone help with information about linen cord for needle lace work? Thanks!

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Tikkun
I prefer linen for bobbin lace and I have also used it for needlelace. Linen is just a tad hairy and varies in thickness slightly along its length, and I like both of those characteristics. I say this because many lacemakers don't like those aspects of linen. I have used 40/2 linen by HV GARN (no longer manufactured) and Fawcetts. Fresia 40/2 would be comparable. I have also used 20/2 Fawcett's linen. There are several companies now selling 16/2 as weaving linen, and it is a little hairier than the 20/2 but slightly softer.
My leaf 10 was worked in 20/2 linen and these 2 were worked in 40/2 linen
green leaf and pink flower
One real advantage to linen is that it doesn't stretch and the hairiness will keep your stitches where you put them. I think 16/2 weaving linen could be used for large scale work. If you want finer go with the same manufacturers that bobbin lacers use: Bockens and Fresia. Moravia is another.
Thanks for the prompt, thorough and encouraging response, Lorelei! It's especially helpful to learn that one distinctive characteristic of linen, it's "hairiness", can be used to advantage in freeform work: to produce secure knots. Armed with this information, I'll screw up my courage and get going on a sample with some of the materials at hand, while I research the sources you've recommended I look into.

Lorelei Terry Halley said:
Tikkun
I prefer linen for bobbin lace and I have also used it for needlelace. Linen is just a tad hairy and varies in thickness slightly along its length, and I like both of those characteristics. I say this because many lacemakers don't like those aspects of linen. I have used 40/2 linen by HV GARN (no longer manufactured) and Fawcetts. Fresia 40/2 would be comparable. I have also used 20/2 Fawcett's linen. There are several companies now selling 16/2 as weaving linen, and it is a little hairier than the 20/2 but slightly softer.
My leaf 10 was worked in 20/2 linen and these 2 were worked in 40/2 linen
green leaf and pink flower
One real advantage to linen is that it doesn't stretch and the hairiness will keep your stitches where you put them. I think 16/2 weaving linen could be used for large scale work. If you want finer go with the same manufacturers that bobbin lacers use: Bockens and Fresia. Moravia is another.
I checked the catalogue of the Cooper-Hewitt and their Krejci piece is actually bobbin lace. But the piece that has been attached, Luba's horsewoman, is said to be "nitak" something the artist invented herself. There is another Krejci piece, in the Powerhouse museum, described as knotted and needlewoven. It is made out of sisal. I have no idea how she produces these works or what nitak is. I will be interested to see your work.
Thanks so much for this information, Devon! I've ordered the catalogue for Krejci's retrospective show from ILL, but it'll be weeks before it arrives. In the meantime, I've put myself through something of a crash-course in lace in order to sort out her "nitak" technique ... looks like free-form knotted lace to me, with a dose of horizontal structure to start. That's how I'm tackling my first test - on a portable tapestry loom, using a lightly-waxed brown wool (8/2 weaving weight). I've pulled a few of her trademark images together for the design (faces, hands, one of the lovely horses, some balloons, etc), so that I can work out the techniques (scale, density, the knots themselves, etc). If I can sort it all out satisfactorily, I'll move on to my own designs.

FYI: sisal seems to be a fiber that was especially popular during the 60's and 70's (those macramé years). My current "bible" is Beyond Craft: the art of fabric. I first crossed paths with a copy during a stay at the Penland School of Crafts earlier this summer (I was there for a 3-d knitting workshop). Blown away by the illustrations (and discussion) of mid-20thc textile art pushing the boundaries, I managed to obtain an affordable copy last month. I'm especially interested in working large (very large, as in mural-scale eventually), so this book is especially inspiring for me. I expect I'll eventually wind up using warp-weight linen (10/2, 8/2, and heavier) in order to achieve the effects I have in mind.

Devon Thein said:
I checked the catalogue of the Cooper-Hewitt and their Krejci piece is actually bobbin lace. But the piece that has been attached, Luba's horsewoman, is said to be "nitak" something the artist invented herself. There is another Krejci piece, in the Powerhouse museum, described as knotted and needlewoven. It is made out of sisal. I have no idea how she produces these works or what nitak is. I will be interested to see your work.
Tikkun
I'm thinking about how you will be working on large wall hanging or mural size pieces. Thirty years ago I bought some ethafoam (polyethylene) sheets from a manufacturer in Chicago. They were 4 feet by 8 feet by 2 inches thick, and have a pinnable surface. Another option, I remember seeing wall board, I think it was, at a home remodelling store. The panels are also 4 feet by 8 feet and pinnable. I suppose it would also be possible to hang up a large piece of sturdy cloth, nailed to a wall and use that for a base. I'll be fascinated to hear how you set up your project.
Working large presents all sorts of challenges. Robin Lewis Wild made a huge wall hanging in bobbin lace to hang in the lobby of the Tennessee Valley Authority. It had to be installed with a crane. I read a description of the process some years ago, and if I recall correctly, I think she actually had to design the fiber, or cord because certain properties were required for something that would be that heavy and hanging. I am hoping to hear this story again at the Finger Lakes Lace Weekend in October, where Robin will be addressing us about Modern Lace. On the subject of large, there was a huge netted piece that hung in the atrium of the Museum of Arts and Design during the Radical Lace Subversive Knitting show. I seem to recall that the artist had some remarks about the cord in that as well. I think it was called the Nuclear Club, or something like that.
I have a catalogue for an exhibition La Dentelle tcheque: de L'Art Deco a nos jours. It was from an exhibition at the Brussels Royal Museum of Art and History in 1983. It has some large 2 D and 3 D hangings. In fact, one of them is by Luba Krejci. It is called Helios. Hmm. Intereting co-incidence that, since we are all to try to make a sun themed piece of needlelace. It says it is a technique derived from Needlelace. I don't know if the International Old Lacers would have this catalogue in its lending library or not.
Thanks for the suggestion, which sounds like the way I've worked out many of my quilts on a flannel "wall".
At the moment, I'm working "in the open", on a tapestry loom.

I've examined Krejci's works as closely as possible, given the limitations of my computer screen and the quality of available images. As far as I can tell, she used some sort of knotted net technique, but very, very free-from. She drew with the knots. But there's almost always some kind of vertical-horizontal structure, irregular as that may be. I'm testing out a technique which relies on (relatively) fixed horizontal threads, something like a horizontal warp on a loom. Then I'm adding the verticals, knotting as I go, in a free-form manner, to "draw" with the knotwork. I've seen one unfinished example of Krejci's piece, which appears to be worked out from the center, or a central motif. But the knotwork seems constant.
Probably the simplest and most versatile knot stitch is coral knot. It is an embroidery stitch but is used in many different ways, including some forms of needle lace.
Thanks very much for the lead on this text, Devon. I'll see if I can get a copy through ILL.
Leslie

Devon Thein said:
... I have a catalogue for an exhibition La Dentelle tcheque: de L'Art Deco a nos jours. It was from an exhibition at the Brussels Royal Museum of Art and History in 1983. It has some large 2 D and 3 D hangings. In fact, one of them is by Luba Krejci. It is called Helios. Hmm. Intereting co-incidence that, since we are all to try to make a sun themed piece of needlelace. It says it is a technique derived from Needlelace. I don't know if the International Old Lacers would have this catalogue in its lending library or not.
My first contact with Luba was in 1970 when I made my first visit to Czechoslovakia. I am a retired university art professor who had a studio of over 50 looms. Because I am half Czech I became excited about Luba's work. I wrote to her and received a very gracious invitation which morphed into a friendship which lasted through my subsequent visits. She taught me many traditional Czech/Moravian fiber techniques including her own unique methods. I observed her working on many pieces over the years and own one small piece. The technique for which she is probably best known in the world would be her knotting process on a very irregular "grid". The grid was attached to an open frame and additions to the grid were made as necessary to accomplish the desired compositional element. i can safely say that she used linen occasionally,but it was almost always a very smooth linen devoid of fuzz. She was just as likely to use cotton. The piece I own even has silver surfaced thread in a portion of it. The major thread, which was black, has faded over the last 33 years to a tan and the silver thread is nearly black from oxidation. As a result the composition is very different now than it was when it was new, but is still positively gorgeous, still tight, and every knot is secure.

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