I'm still doing Wikipedia lace articles.

I am trying to straighten out their lace classification system with someone else (who is Dutch). Within bobbin lace, we have guipure, part lace, tape lace (which is possibly a sub-category of part lace - but leaving that to one side for the present!)  But the rest of bobbin lace was divided into Continuous and Point Ground, which is silly, as Point Ground is Continuous.

Rosemary Shepherd has a category of "Bobbin laces with a mesh ground; for example, Valenciennes, Binche, Mechlin, Lille, Buckinghamshire point, torchon." That's fair enough, but that will make a very big sub-group in Wikipedia, and we want to sub-divide it somehow.

I wonder if one good signifier is the use of a gimp or cordonnet? It's something that is easy to spot in any piece of lace, and reading through the Wikipedia lace articles already there, they often mention if it's used or not. And a lace style tends to either use a gimp or not. So the two sub-groups would be Ground with gimp, and Ground without gimp. What do you think?

The next question is - how should the current lace styles be grouped? I'm very ignorant of non-English styles of lace. Looking on the web, and books, I tentatively say

Gimp: Bucks point ·  Antwerp ·  Mechlin ·  Chantilly · Tønder · Lille · Blonde . Paris ·  Bayeux · Arras · Beveren 

None: Freehand ·  Torchon · Binche · Valenciennes  · Flanders

By the way - re the Part lace/bobbin tape lace problem, I've kept them as two categories but said in each article that "Bobbin tape lace  is sometimes categorized as part lace."

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I'm to blame for continuous, forgot to login, wanted to merge "Ancient" and "French and Flemish" and the latter was introduced to avoid "continental" which is UK-centric and therefore not neutral. I don't think gimps are a proper category. Ancient Flanders does not have gimps but more modern Flanders does.

Is there an opposite of point ground within the continuous laces? It is not clear to me what is a point ground and it does not become clear to me from http://www.lynxlace.com/bobbinlace19thcstraightmesh.html

If it not possible to write a proper article titled "point ground", we might have to drop the category. A proper article needs to be supported by reliable sources, is there any literature that uses the category?

If your Dutch collaborator is using guipure, part lace and tape lace as categories, that would suggest that she thinks of guipure as equivalent to continuous lace/straight lace.  That would be a reasonable subdivision.  Although I usually think of tape lace as one of the part laces, I can see why someone might put it into a category of its own.  There are structural and conceptional differences between Honiton or duchesse and tape lace.

If we define continuous lace as one where threads have to move out of the motifs and into the ground, well, tape lace also takes threads out of the tape and uses them to make connections to previous parts, and then those threads move back into the tape. So I suppose you could say that tape lace is part lace in that it uses a hook to connect parts, but it is a continuous lace in that  you have to know how to use threads taken out of the tape to make the connections.

As to gimp, personally I don't think that is significant in defining groups. Many of the styles that use gimp can also be made without gimp, sometimes even the same pattern.

I have heard others in the past (chiefly the staff in the textile department at the Art Institute of Chicago) insist that the ground used is the significant factor. But even that isn't true, since early Flanders (Mechlin) used as many different grounds as Binche, and the habit of using only Flanders or Mechlin ground didn't develop until the late 19th c.

Personally, I think the distinction among continuous laces is whether the ground is random braids put in wherever necessary, or a mesh ground. (Valenciennes has a braided ground of 4 threads, but the ground is perfectly regular. Conceptually it is similar to Binche and Flanders.)   And among the mesh ground laces the distinction is how many pairs enter at each pin. This is important because in the continental laces, having 2 pairs enter the clothwork at each pin causes a fairly complex weave in the cloth.  The single-pair-entering mesh ground laces, such as torchon and point ground, have a fairly simple and direct kind of weave in the clothwork.

I have devoted a whole page of my website to trying to explain all this. The problem with it is that there is so much detail that it may be hard to see the whole picture.


And I am willing to consider putting tape lace into its own category.


I don't think using the term "continental" to describe a set of laces is UK-centric.  I use that distinction because it is significant in terms of the structure of the lace itself. The continuous laces made in the UK -- Bucks point, Downton -- all have one pair entering the clothwork at each pin. But the continental continuous laces -- Binche, Flanders, Paris, Valenciennes and Mechlin -- have 2 pairs entering.  This is why we use the term "point ground lace" because these were made all over the world in the 19th century, and in all of them 1 pair enters at each pin. They are structurally different from the "continental straight laces".

Also I am an American without a drop of English blood anywhere in my ancestry, and my attitude toward lace is global rather than Anglophile.  Even among the braid/plait ground laces Bedfordshire is quite different from the continental laces. The Beds habit of adding and removing pairs as needed for good density just does not happen in the continental laces such as Cluny, LePuy or the floral "continental guipure".  (and if it does happen it is not a constant factor).  A Dutch lace maker might think you are being Anglo-centric but that is not the issue. It is the structure that is significantly different.

"Continuous" in Wikipedia seems to be a distinction from 'Part lace" as in "(Torchon lace) is continuous, with the pattern made at the same time as the ground.

"Continuous" can be divided into Guipure (the "random braids") and mesh - fair enough. But the mesh group is still very big - that's the problem. I can understand the point about one pair or two pairs at a pin, but I think it's too technical for a Wikipedia article.

What a shame we can't use "gimp"! I know that gimp can be used or not in the same pattern (done it myself!) but the descriptions of the styles, such as by Pat Earnshaw, often mention the gimp as a part of the style, or says this style is different from that as one has a gimp and the other doesn't. But I do realise that we can't just invent a classification that no-one else uses! (Wikipedia is very disapproving of that kind of thing...)

If we used type of grounds, then the groups would proliferate! And where would you put Torchon?

Another possibility is Geometric versus Flowery but most laces would, I suspect, end up in Flowery.

Sorry to provoke. The UK-versus-continent attitude settled in my brain since I visited English firms with my applied science class. But at least now I understand the point of point ground. Later more.

I still have a bit of a problem with the word 'continental'. A Wikipedia article is supposed to be read by anyone, from anywhere. 'Continent' - which continent? Asia is a continent, so is Africa. And this use of 'continental' is supposed to be specifically excluding England, which is part of Europe last time I looked. (And I am British). The word 'continental' might have a specific meaning within the lace world, but outside that, it is an old-fashioned British expression to mean Europe apart from Britain.

I know that we must use terms and categories which are recognised, but I would prefer to avoid this particular one if at all possible. Particularly at this time, when anti-Europe feeling is growing in Britain, and we hear regular sneers about "people coming over from the Continent". Bad vibes! (Possibly not understood from America)

I have only ever used the 2 categories - Continuous, or Sectional.

Sectional is like Honiton - worked in sections that are joined together.

I agree with Jo, - "continental" can mean different things to different people, and is too vague a term to use to mean specific laces.

Point ground lace is a phrase to describe all the laces made all over the world which use point ground, have one pair entering at each pin, make a catch pin at the footside and double thread picots along the headside, with extra pairs being stored along headside, just inside the picots. There are small regional differences in how many twists, the style of footside, lots of picky little details. Buchs, Tonder Bayeux are the names most familiar, along with Chantilly and Blonde.

These are all mesh grounded straight laces (continuous laces). They are neither English nor continental, but worldwide wherever bobbin lace was made (nearly wherever).

Among lace makers who have studied Flanders Binche Paris & Valenciennes this term "continental straight laces" to describe this group is common practice.  I think everybody in the lace world would recognize that "continental" refers to Europe. If you want to make up your own name, go ahead. But common practice calls these "continental".

I think my best explanation of "point ground" is on this page: 


For a reliable published source use POINT GROUND LACE, A COMPARATIVE STUDY, published by OIDFA 2001. It is a 56 page booklet which aims to describe the minute differences between point ground laces from various geographical regions.

You could also use the first 3 and possibly first 4 on this book list:


You might ask the question on arachne, whether anyone objects to the term "continental straight or continuous laces" to describe Binche, Flanders, Val, Paris and Mechlin as a group. Or whether anyone has a better term that is widely accepted. Arachne also has international membership.

Jo, I do understand about your desire to not get excessively technical for a wikipedia article.

Geometric vs flowery is an appealing distinction but you can have geometric torchon and floral torchon (Geraldine Stott has designed a few), and floral torchon is common among Spanish lace makers.  Also you can have geometric Cluny, but there are also floral laces with a braid ground, and which are based on Cluny technique. Floral Bucks and "continental guipure" (there is that word again) don't belong in the same group. These "continental guipures" include some Danish braid/plait grounded laces with flowers all over them, and Swedish Vadstena designs, as well as the Spanish floral braid/plait based laces.

If you are worried about wikipedia readers not understanding how we use words, you could say "continental, meaning Europe excluding the U.K."

If you make up a hew name then lace makers won't understand you.

I remember with glee something Devon posted on arachne some years ago. She was exasperated. She said " if I say Bansh, American lace makers say what??  If I say binch European lace makers say what"??

One of the reasons I am fascinated by bobbin lace history is precisely because of this problem we are having. It is so complicated and tangled. Trying to keep it straight can occupy the mind for hours or years.


Here is a chart which describes the way I think of these laces and their categories.  Click on  the chart if the words are too small.  I HAVE JUST REVISED MY CHART.

It looks as if the division between one pin / two pin at a pin is essential, and I can see how it is something that can be spotted in an example of lace without bothering about how old it is or where it comes from. OK, it's a bit technical, but then that's a challenge isn't it? To try to explain it to non-lacemakers or experts? I think the solution is a diagram of the threads at a pin. I can do a diagram of a Torchon pin at the edge of a diamond - made lots of them - probably got a diagram on my website, come to think of it. But I haven't learnt these 2 pin laces. Could someone either post, or send me (if there's a copyright problem - posts are public publishing!) or give me a link to either a good diagram showing how two pairs enter a design at a pin? Or if that is impossible, then a good closeup of the relevant bit of lace, so I can figure out what's going on? Then I can do my own diagram from the photo (or make my own diagram from someone else's diagram) as the basis of a category article. There would be two articles - one for one pin, one for two pin, both with an explanatory diagram, both referring to the other.

Terminology is another matter. We'll have to think about that. We need two terms, punchy (one word or a few very short ones) to put in our table of lace types. Then I think we can put the accepted lacemakers terms inside the article. That puts them in context - "this is what lacemakers call them" and so shouldn't upset or confuse anyone by a different meaning for "continental". And we can gloss "continental" further, if needs, as suggested. I'll need a reference for these terms, by the way - are they used on your own website, Lorelei? That will be a good enough reference. Or a book, or other website. Any other references for this classification split also welcome. If it's a book, then give me the relevant sentence or two, so I make sure I put the reference in the right place.

As for the 'punchy' terms - "one pair pin", "two pair pin"?

That's a lovely table, by the way, Lorelei! Have you put it anywhere permanent, like your own website? It's more or less what Wikipedia has ended up with (apart from this last division that we're discussing).

I think I'm going to have to save this whole discussion on my own computer for my own personal use! I'm learning a lot. That's why I'm bothering you with all this - I feel guilty at writing these Wikipedia articles when I am ignorant of most styles of lace. But I do feel that at least a small amount on Wikipedia helps (as long as it's accurate!) I remember looking up Cluny on Wikipedia a year ago and finding nothing....

Point taken about geometric v. flowery. I thought that wouldn't work... (I've designed flowery Torchon myself!)

hhhm, pasting an image did not work.


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