Make, learn and talk about needle lace.
On February 16 of 2010 I set up the needlelacetalk social network on ning. On February 17 of 2010 26 people joined.
I want to explain, for our newer members, why I started this network. Back in the 1980s I set myself to learning a little about all the lacemaking methods, but bobbin lace was my special love. I tried needlelace but did rather badly and decided to drop it, since improving would take too much time away from my bobbin lace. But I kept a great respect for needlelace and felt it deserved more attention than it was getting. I knew from personal experience that needle lace is even more challenging than bobbin lace. Once you understand how to set up the working sandwich the concept is simple. But it takes a lot of practice and dedication to bring stitching quality up to a level where you want to display it. I understood that budding needle lace makers were too few and far between to be able to give each other the kind of support and positive reinforcement that would sustain a beginner through the learning phase. This idea persisted in my mind. I tried setting up needlelace workshops in my local group, but they weren't getting enough students signing up to pay the teacher's fee. So we kept on canceling them. Then I found another fiber group on ning in December of 2008. As I participated in that group I came to understand the software and what it could do. The idea of a needle lace group began to grow in my mind. The marvelous ability to add photos and even put them into comment boxes created all sorts of discussion possibilities -- both for students learning the technique and for historians interested in how the antique pieces were made. Arachne is a well known general lace network which includes all forms of lace making, so I wrote to 3 people I knew from that group to see if they thought my idea might work: Lenore English, Elizabeth Ligeti and Devon Thein. They supported the idea, and here we are.
My persistence in defining our territory in a narrow way is a result of this history. Arachne includes needle lace, but it is mentionned only rarely: there just aren't enough people doing it. So I wanted to create a place where only those really committed to this rather difficult and uncommon craft could find support. I was afraid that if I broadened the subject matter, true needle lace would be swamped and swallowed up by everything else. Just about any other form of lace making has more adherents than needle lace.
But those of you who have followed many of the discussions here, and looked at all the photos will understand that needlelace has advantages to offer any textile artist. Once you have the basic method down you can use this technique to do just about anything. Any drawing can be turned into a pattern and executed in many different ways. It isn't necessary to become an expert before starting to design and make your own work. Just look at all the contemporary work that our members have made. The contemporary pieces equal, or perhaps exceed, the number of traditional pieces. This technique is worth pursuing, and is worth the agony of mastering the stitches and tension to make good quality work.
I started this site because I think needle lace deserves more attention from the world and because I want to preserve the knowledge from the past about how to do it, and spread knowledge about those techniques. Mostly we are all spread very far apart from each other, but the internet lets us talk together, share our knowledge and understanding, and encourage each other. So far, it looks like it is working. As we gather new members and new practitioners of this art, who knows where their individuality will take us. We will just get richer in the store of knowledge and experience that we can share.
Last updated by Lorelei Halley May 17, 2015.