Filet lace doily

Some time back I told you of the day we spent with my great aunt going through her things in an effort to help her downsize. She was very happy for us to take anything that we wanted, as she’d rather things go to family who will treasure them, than just be dumped.

I got quite a few doilies that day, and while I’m away on my cruise, I’ll share some of them with you. (These posts are written in advance.)

The first one I wanted to show you was the one that really caught my eye. It is a filet lace doily. The way it is made is that firstly, the base of knotted filet is created, and then the embroidery worked onto it.

I had seen this embroidery before in my copy of Therese de Dillmont’s “The Completely Encyclopedia of Needlework”, but I had never seen any in real life.
filet lace doilyThe doily measures about 43cm x 24cm (17 x 9.5 inches). It seems to be made of firm, finely twisted cotton, a bit like crochet cotton, though this one isn’t mercerised. There are a few spots where the threads have broken, perhaps rotted away. In the photograph above, they seem to mostly be at the right end. Perhaps this end was in the sun when it was on a dresser, causing the cotton to rot? Or perhaps that end just got more wear and tear.
filet lace doilyClose up of one of the central flowers.
filet lace doilyYou can see that different thicknesses of thread are used.
filet lace doilyFrom this picture you can get a good idea of how the knotted net ground works, and then the embroidery is worked onto it. You can see the regular knotted ground threads as a distinct mesh underneath the motifs.

I was really pleased to find this doily in amongst my great aunt’s things. While she has not been a needlewoman herself, she said that many of the doilies came from her mother (probably given to her mother as gifts), and some would have been made by my great great aunts. A lovely piece of history to take care of.

If you’re interested in trying some filet lace, Therese de Dillmont’s “The Completely Encyclopedia of Needlework” has instructions you could use. My copy of the book is a reproduction copy, but because the book is so old and therefore out of copyright, you could possibly find it digitally on the internet.

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