Filet and Netting Lace by Margaret Morgan.

Netted Mat

Netting is a craft which has its origins in prehistoric times with the invention of fishing nets. At some stage this practical craft was extended to decorative purposes, and used to adorn clothing and other household items. The exact history of this development is uncertain, but what is clear is that netting has a very long history and is one of the very earliest forms of lacemaking. The net consists of series of loops made with a basic knot, usually the fisherman’s knot, and the tools used are a netting needle and a mesh stick. By using more than one size of mesh stick in a piece of lace, and by employing the knot in various ways, very decorative lace can be achieved.

Filet on Hand-Made net.

While netting by itself can be used to produce beautiful lace, it can also be combined with embroidery stitches to make filet lace. Filet lace is essentially embroidery on a net with a square mesh. This type of lace also has a long history. In the Middle Ages it was much used for ecclesiastical purposes. In the Renaissance period it was popular, as is shown by its inclusion in the first printed lace pattern books. Two famous sixteenth century women, Catherine de Medici and Mary Queen of Scots, were both enthusiastic workers of filet lace. In those times filet lace was worked on hand-made net, but after the invention of machines which could reproduce the net, machine-made net gradually superseded the hand-made net, and today most people work on machine-made net.

There are a number of different styles of filet lace, including filet guipure and filet Richelieu. There is also a variety of stitches, but the two basic stitches are darning stitch and linen stitch. Darning stitch is a very simple stitch, and as the name implies, it consists of darning the embroidery thread under and over the threads of the net in a row until the row is full. Linen stitch is more complicated, but perhaps more interesting, and for linen stitch the thread is worked both horizontally and vertically so that the end result looks like a woven piece of linen. Many lovely designs can be made using one or both of these two stitches.

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