New England
Lace Group

Lace Samples from Ipswich, Massachusetts, 1789-1790. History, Patterns, and Working Diagrams for 22 Lace Samples Preserved at the Library of Congress

By Karen H Thompson

This much-anticipated self-published book compliments 2003's The Laces of Ipswich, by Marta Cotterell Raffel, which caused quite a stir in America when it brought this startling early American lace history to us. To date, Ipswich Lace is the only Colonial Era commercially-produced (in private homes) handmade lace industry that has been discovered in America. It is very well documented in the Library of Congress papers of Alexander Hamilton, America's first Secretary of the Treasury. Actual examples of Ipswich Lace were enclosed with these papers that describe the lace industry. Karen has skillfully reproduced 22 of these samples. The book will be of special interest to lace makers who would like to make black silk bobbin lace, historians, and people who specialize in authentic costuming.

72-page soft cover book printed on quality paper, 2017
ISBN: 978-0-9990385-0-5
Price: $24 from Amazon

Basic technical information is given; working diagrams are in color.

When you open to the individual patterns, everything you need to know is printed on facing pages.

On the left page: Photos of the original sample and Karen's reproduction side-by-side.

On the right page: Supplies required, working diagram in color side-by-side with a pricking pattern. The patterns will be easy to copy for use on a lace pillow because they are near the right edge of the page.

A feature that will be appreciated by scholars: Numbered Notes in the text are explained at the bottom of the page on which they appear; there is no need to find them somewhere at the back of the book.

For the benefit of those who may be studying American Ipswich Lace in the future, a guild's library might acquire an archival box in which to place everything presently available on the subject. Specifically:

  1. The Lace Samples from Ipswich, Massachusetts, 1789-1790 by Karen H Thompson, 2017. Any articles mentioned in this book that may be printed (internet sites may disappear over time).
  2. The Laces of Ipswich by Marta Cotterell Raffel, 2003, 1-58465-163-6. Publications in which this research appeared prior to book publishing, some in name of Cotterell.
  3. Fine Thread, Lace & Hosiery in Ipswich, Ipswich Historical Society, 1903.
  4. Information about the Ipswich Historical Society.
  5. Book reviews, magazine articles and ephemera related to Ipswich Lace.

Individuals might set up a 3-ring binder with inside pockets for the books, and print/insert available information to keep the subject together. We stand on the shoulders of lace makers of the past, and we know their history has largely been undocumented. A lesson learned from this research is to keep what you can or donate to a guild that will protect your lace history.

Lace makers are finding Karen’s instructions to be easier to follow than previously published ones. Karen's new book is a winner!

Jeri Ames in Maine USA
Lace and Embroidery Resource Center

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