Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Venetian Needle Lace Baby Bonnet

Venetian needle lace is, without a doubt, absolutely gorgeous. On my honeymoon many, many years ago we visited a small lace company in Venice. I was fascinated watching an elderly woman making Venetian needle lace on a pillow in her lap while the owner of the shop explained how the lace was made. She told us how different women specialized in different stitches so that the work was passed around and each woman filled in a different area in her perfected stitch. She told us of the hard life of the lacemakers of the past who worked by sunlight or candlelight and who went blind.

I stayed behind while the others moved on with the owner so that I could watch the lacemaker continue to work her piece. She smiled at me and motioned me to come closer. Silently she showed me the stitch she was doing - she worked so fast! I had only very basic Italian in those days but with sign language we did quite well, she slowed down to go step-by-step to show me how she skipped a stitch here and there to form "holes" in the lace which formed a pattern. I was fascinated watching her work for some time. Only when my husband appeared in the doorway looking for me did I realize that I should be going. The lacemaker put her hand over mine and squeezed it. Then she gave me a kleenex tissue. Of course tears were running down my face and I hadn't noticed.

I'll always think about that lady. I've been back to Venice many times but I could never figure out where we had been.

I have a few friends who are either expecting a baby or have just had one. I always love the lavish baby things that Italians make and so I got lost among my books and magazines daydreaming of what I could make for a baby. In Punto di Venezia by Adele della Porta, 1919 - I found this baby bonnet pattern. There are no written instructions at all!

Side pattern:

Middle piece pattern:

Notice the little picots on all the edges!

Wouldn't it be just beautiful all stitched up? Maybe if I start now my friends' grandchildren might be able to wear it!

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