My sister-in-law bought two pieces of lace while in Bize (southern France). She wants me to identify them. I assumed to start with that they are machine made, but I've looked carefully at them and now I'm not sure! I know a bit about English lace, but this is presumably Mainland Europe. Or machine-made, of course... I've had a look at Pat Earnshaw's book on identification of lace and it wasn't much help.

I'm going to post hi-res photos - ask me for more if quality not good enough. I'm going to post them one at a time, and make comments for each. (This is in case uploads go wrong - I don't want to have to keep redoing uploading large photos!)

First, small scale photo of piece 1 (the rest are better quality - honest!) This is to show pattern. It's two pieces sewn together.

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Two didn't upload. Try again....

Here are the small versions

I'm still not convinced they've all uploaded! Never mind, some have.

It's very interesting that it is handmade. My sister-in-law (who bought them) knows nothing about lace, but swears she can tell the difference between hand made and machine made! And that these were hand made. Perhaps she just has a feel for it.

Jo - I want to modify my response about these pieces.  This one is machine made.

The motifs are not the right shape for handmade. But more specifically -- 

The red ring shows that thick bundle of threads at the headside, just inside the picots. Handmade lace would not have such a thick bundle; rather it would be flat and the pathway of threads from the lace to the picots would be easily visible. The green ring picots have a knotted look, and that would not be the case in handmade lace.

Here is handmade picots:

In this photo the blue rings show where threads leave the clothwork and move into the ground. This looks perfectly normal. But the orange rings in the ground are not at all normal. There is 1 thread which moves from right to left, and then returns. True point ground would have 2 threads from each side crossing through each other.  See the orange lace in my photo above.

So you think that the first piece, with the two pieces sewn together IS hand-made - specifically using a Mechlin net - while the one with the single picot, given above is machine made? That was my feeling. Specifically about the footsides. The first piece has an odd looking footside, but that's because someone has threaded a single thicker thread through it. The second one (where you don't like the picot or some of the net) has a strange footside. I've tended to find that footsides are quite a good thing to consider for machine made / hand made.
Yes, I know how picots are made - I've made plenty myself! Yes, I didn't understand the bunching, There's a gimp there to confuse matters, and I think the picot is a single thread, and so what I call a knotted picot. But even so, I agree with you, I can't figure it out!

But you are happy that the other one is hand-made?

At first I thought the one with the vertical stacks in the ground was handmade. But your closeups made me question that. The ground appears to be 2 threads twisted around each other, but they should be 4 strand braids/plaits if it were handmade Mechlin.

By the way, I think the problem with your first attempt to post the files (with them disappearing) may be because the 5mb limit on file sizes was exceeded. Part of my response also disappeared. I think it possible that the 5 mb limit applies not just to the actual file, but to the total mb uploaded in any single comment box. At least that would explain what happened to the disappearing image files.

OK. We'll discard piece 2 as machine made (which is I agree with). Concentrating on piece 1 - the two pieces sewn together. It looks like Mechlin net to me, but this is outside my comfort zone! I've done some closeups of various parts of this net. All done the "correct" way up, as worked.


Here is an attempt to send the full piece again (scanned this time - the focus may be better.

Your closeups just above are very clear and verify that I really was seeing what I thought I saw. That ground is not Mechlin ground, but something entirely other. In Cook & Stott's BOOK OF BOBBIN LACE STITCHES there is a "2 thread ground" on page 17. It has 2 threads twisted around each other, but arranged in diamond shapes, not vertical stacks as in your piece.

It is not the same as yours, and doesn't even look at all like it. But it is the closest thing I can find. The authors do not comment at all where they found the ground, or in what context.

I am at a loss to say for sure what your piece is.

It was bought by my sister-in-law in southern France, near the Spanish border.

Do you think it's hand made? That's the important thing. Oh yes, it would be nice to say where it came from, but my sister-in-law would be very pleased to find out that she was right, and it was hand-made. I "feel" that it is hand-made. The picots look right, and the footside, and the cloth stitch, and the gimp looks the same from both sides.

I just want to add a little more. Here is a photo of Mechlin net in Wikipedia. Is it accurate?

And here is one stitch high-lighted in the lace:

 It looks very similar to me. A pair from each side twisted, and then the half stitches on top of each other making a plait. In other placers it isn't so clear. Sometimes it even looks as if the pairs have been just twisted together! But that can't be so, because they wouldn't hang like that. But every now and then, you see the plait clear(ish).
What do you think?

Parts of your first lace look just fine as handmade, but that ground bothers me.  Yours looks like this:

but it should look like this:  

I realize that this photo is not close up enough. But it is the best I have. Your diagram of Mechlin ground is correct.

Even if the ground is made as in my red diagram above, it still could be handmade, but very odd. I am at a loss to characterize this piece. I haven't seen that combination of elements before.


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