When Queen Alexandra last visited Ireland, the women of that country, who always had a respectful liking for her, were puzzling over what offering they could make that would express in any suitable manner their regard and esteem, and at the same time be acceptable, they thought of this Innishmacsaint lace, and unanimously agreed upon it. It is the most precious of all the Irish laces, and is very like the rare old Venetian Point. A length of this was made and tied around a bouquet of choice flowers, which was presented to Her Majesty. It is said that she appreciated the beauty of the offering very much, as well as the manner in which it was made.
The lace is made in the finest of linen thread in the natural colour, and though so very fine is not at all difficult to make, as the stitches used are only variations of the well-known buttonhole stitch, but the very fine stitchery required is somewhat trying to the eyes if the worker be not blessed with very keen sight; therefore only a small piece should be worked at a time, and there is no reason why anyone who can sew very neatly should not make a few motifs in this charming lace, if only for the purpose of learning how to make it. An idea of the costliness of this needle point may be formed from the fact that lace, only 3 inches deep, will cost from 52/- a yard upwards when of the best quality.
The piece of lace illustrated was worked with No. 100 Irish Lace Thread, linen, in the natural colour, that is unbleached, a very coarse soft linen thread was employed for the "high relief" edges and rings, a very particular feature of this class of lace. The first thing to do is to prepare the design, but these can be had already made from the fancy-work depots. They are usually composed of the design traced on green linen or glazed calico in heavy black lines, and these are best, as the green background makes the stitching less trying and more distinct. If from any reason one of these is not obtainable then the design must be drawn on a piece of paper and transferred to the glazed calico, or it can be worked on a small piece of tough paper if only a single motif be required.
Tack the paper securely to a piece of coarse linen, then take 5 or 6 strands of the linen thread and fold them into a cord long enough to cover the outlines of the design. Beginning at the end of a stem or leaf, lay this cord along the outline and fasten over it with a st across the cord, bring the needle up from underneath beside the cord somewhat less than 1/8-inch from the last st, insert the needle from the other side of the cord through the same hole and pull the thread, not too tightly, but so as to keep the outlining even, then repeat this st until the entire outline has been covered. All the lines, including the little rings, must be outlined with this cord. You then proceed to fill in the centres with the various kinds of buttonhole st, taking great care to keep the work as clean as possible. For this purpose only the part in actual use should be left uncovered; the other portion should have a piece of white paper tacked over it, and if the strip be long it must be folded and pinned into a roll, then on the working portion the fingers should touch it as little as possible; a scrap of tissue paper wound round the thumb of the left hand and tightly twisted at the top to keep it secure is the readiest way to prevent soiling from that useful member which is the finger that comes most often into contact with it. The sts must always end at a traced line; there can be no joining in the centre or any other part, and when the thread gets too short it must be run
WORKING THE LACE STITCH.
2 or 3 times into the tracing line to secure it, without making the tracing too thick; then cut away, join a new thread by fastening to the outline with a couple of tight sts. A hint of great use to a worker is to always work with the point of the needle turned from the worker; the sts are more uniform when this method is adopted.
When all the spaces are filled, the edges, except those in "high relief," are worked over in a close buttonhole st, with the picots if necessary. In the sample illustrated there are no picots on the thin buttonholed edges, but they are plentiful on those in relief. For the edges in high relief, you take a very coarse linen thread of the same colour, or fold the outlining cord in three as a substitute, and work the buttonhole sts over this into the edge of the leaf. The large rings are also worked over this thick padding and the little loops with picots formed while working the buttonhole sts. It will be more convenient to work the small rings separately, and then sew them in place.
AN OUTLINE OF THE PATTERN.