Vologda lace is a kind of Russian
lace tatted with bobbins. Continuous smooth line, which never crosses
and forms a pattern of Vologda lace, is a woven braid ('vilushka')
over a thin openwork grid. Vologda bobbin lace tatting dates back
to the 16th and 17th centuries, but the craft itself was developed
in the 1st quarter of the 19th century.
Nobody knows how this wonderful craft appeared in Russia. Different
researchers give contradictory answers to this question. Holland,
Germany and even Spain can be justly considered ancestors of Vologda
lace. As a matter of fact, it is not so important whose ship was
the first to deliver precious lace to Russia. Precious in its direct
meaning. Foreign lace was tatted from golden strings meant only
for people who wielded authority.
But Russia is an unpredictable country. If an English mechanical
flea should fall into the hands of our foremen it will be grounded.
Before the ruling clique had time to show off foreign valuables,
our foremen made lace on their own: golden meant for richer people
and silver for people of moderate means; iron for those who cannot
afford noble metals. Later provincials heard about this novelty.
(Considering that a clever tongue will take you anywhere in Russia).
Hundreds of foremen of different regions began to create different
patterns of lace. Then they began to apply partially forgotten linen
thread and impressed the whole world with snow-white, as light as
down, Russian lace.
Country lace-makers began to tat at
an early age. Lace-makers earned 20 rubles a year. That time decent
sum of money. Suffice it to say that at the end of the 19th century
kg of oil cost 50 copecks, and meat only 14. However, there were
few people who tatted lace for sale that time. They made it for
themselves or for a present. If a girl inherited a lace from the
mother or grandmother, it was possible to sell it and get hammered
silver-plated ear-rings; a dozen of spindles, and a pair of good
It is rather difficult to learn to tat lace but it is more difficult
to make it up. And before a girl tats the first lace kerchief another
lace-maker should put her heart and soul into this work. Lace design
is unnoticeable and almost forgotten work. Almost nobody knows,
what wonderful secrets these people have.
Two threads are used in weaving: basic and shot wires; one is used
in knitting, and lots of threads in tatting. Sometimes their number
can amount to 60 and even more. Each string is winded around a separate
bobbin, a kind of stick. Pleteya, it was the name of a lace-maker,
fixes a string on a bobbin, puts it on her knee and rolls it out
a little until a thread takes its place. After it kuftyr is used,
a kind of drum stuffed with straw and made of textile fabric. It
is fixed on a special support, previously having been wrapped up
with paper peaces, which are very important in lace making. Inserting
pins into holes and throwing over bobbins, pleteya interlaces threads.
Like a computer punched card determines computer program, a peace
of paper determines a lace pattern.
Vologda has always been one of the
main centres of Russian lace tatting, and in the 19th century it
became the most famous one. It was that time when lace-makers began
to tat lace patterns in the form of wonderful stars and snowflakes.
Vologda lace reminds of hoarfrost on winter glass, which will disappear
under the first rays of the March sun. It looks like a thin spider
line, which will be torn by a waft of wind. They are like symbols
of something innocent and momentary. Like a madonna lily, Vologda
lace could become a symbol of innocence.
In fact, in old times brides used to tat lace for dowry by themselves.
The bride's house was always decorated with lacy "postilalniks",
"ubruses", special towels, and "naspichniks"
for a groom to come. And lace tatting itself was called "female