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Tag Archives: Lace

Do I have links for you!  And stories.


Here’s the strange thing. This first link goes to the blog of my good friend SonomaLass. (Not her IRL name!). Her partner is British and they go to the family farm in Scotland or to Britain proper once a year. This year (and last, actually) they did a canal boat trip and her pictures are wonderful. You will love them. By the way, she brought me back the most beautiful coffee cup:

I LOVE that coffee cup. She says considered getting me the Blue Tit, but decided Swallow was better for a romance author. She is very wise.

Go look at her Canal Trip Pictures, think about Regency folk floating along, but also read about her trip. When you come back, I’ll tell you how we got to be friends.

Fun, eh? Yes, I want to go, too!!

How I met my Good Friend

Two or three years ago now, I kept seeing someone in the comments at Dear Author saying funny, smart stuff and given her handle of “SonomaLass” I finally replied to one of her comments and asked if, by any chance, she lived in Sonoma County. The answer was yes! So, short story even shorter, she lives about 20 minutes from me and works in my town. We’ve been meeting up for conversation and European Sipping Chocolate ever since. And, also as it turns out, someone else turned out to live very close by and now we all three meet regularly and talk about romance novels and all kinds of stuff. I love the internet.

All About Lace

My next link is to A Most Beguiling Accomplishment for a post about lace. I love her blog. Don’t forget to check out the side bar (left and right) for more great links.

When I was 16, our Italian-born neighbor took my sister and I with her when she went to Italy to visit relatives. Some of her relatives lived in VERY small villages in the Alps. It was like sitting in the middle of someone’s ridiculous fantasy about quaint Italian villages. We sat outside their stone house at a table shaded by enormous grape vines and I watched a plump old woman hand make this lace:

Hand tatted Italian Lace. Photo by Moi.

She was unbelievably fast at the lace making (done with bobbins). Like an expert knitter, she didn’t even have to look. She sat with us, chatting with her relative and her American visitors and her hands were constantly moving. My sister also got a lovely hand made lace doily.


From lace to maps: The David Rumsey Map Collection. Connected to Google maps, too.

Oh, my goodness. I have a thing for maps. It’s almost worse than my thing for looking at vacation photos.

Extraordinary People

My next link is outside our period but it’s an article well worth reading about an American woman physician who also did some early sex research beginning in 1892. Celia Mosher was an extraordinary woman, and this Stanford Magazine article makes me wish I’d know her or that she’d lived miraculously long enough to know that other women came after her and they did not have to make the sacrifices she did. Because of women like her, other women got to have bigger dreams and to see them come true.

What strikes me about this article about Dr. Mosher is the sense of how isolated she felt. How many extraordinary women of the past also felt isolated by their ambition and brilliance? It’s a tragedy.

Which leads me to my last post, which is totally outside our period because it’s from just a few days ago (August 2012). An Unexpected Ass Kicking. A touching and inspiring article. I hope you take the time to read it.


When I was young, my grandmother came to live with us for a few years. She got homesick and eventually went back to Oregon where, a couple weeks after locking herself out of the house and climbing through a window to get in, she passed away of a heart attack at age 87.  She was a woman who talked a lot. And I mean a lot. It could be very tedious, to be honest.  As a young woman, my grandmother, not that it matters, was heart-stoppingly beautiful. She certainly is in her wedding picture.

But over several evenings, I sat with my grandmother (who was in many ways an extraordinary woman) and listened to her talk. I didn’t have to say much, but I learned an awful lot about her her family that no one else knew. In fact, I was the first one to hear the story of the family ax murderer, later confirmed by my sister who found the article about his trial. But I LOVE listening to stories.

In fact, I once went to a party where I sat next to a man I figured was probably approaching 80, and he started telling me all about his life growing up in Poland. His family tried to rescue me, but I didn’t want to be rescued. I’m sure they’d all heard the stories before, but they were new to me. It turns out he was 104. Which is why all his stories had no cars or electricity.

I hope to make it to a doddering old age without doddering, and I hope there’s someone around to listen to my stories.

Got any stories about extraordinary people? I would love to hear them!

Super Secret Surprise for people who read this far:

I’m giving away a copy of my September historical Not Proper Enough here.

Rules: Void where prohibited. Must be 18 or older to enter. No purchase necessary. Post a comment to this post by Midnight Pacific on Friday August 17, 2012. International OK.


The Riskies are happy to welcome back guest blogger, Harlequin Historical author Julia Justiss! She’ll be giving away a copy of her new release, Society’s Most Disreputable Gentleman, to one lucky commenter. For more info, visit her website, where she is also giving away Godiva chocolates…

The Romance of Lace

Many thanks to the Riskies for inviting me to talk about my February release and share a bit about that loveliest of fabrics, English lace!

First, a bit about that new release, Society’s Most Disreputable Gentleman. Fired from his job as estate manager and then abducted and pressed into the Royal Navy. hero Greville Anders (brother of heroine Joanna of From Waif to Gentleman’s Wife) returns after 8 month’s service at sea a radically different man. Eager to obtain his release and pursue an honest career, he has little interest in the idle Society he used to frequent. But despite his vow to reform his rake’s ways, how could he help but flirt with his host’s beautiful daughter Amanda? For her part, Amanda Neville has dreamed since childhood of becoming a brilliant Society hostess. She’s not about to risk that by dallying with a younger son of little fortune, no matter how scandalously attractive he might be!

When Greville finds himself marooned in the Devon countryside while he recovers from wounds suffered during a battle with privateers, he’s happy to further his flirtation with Amanda by having her give him a tour of her father’s vast estate.

Along with fields planted in corn, mining on the Dartmoor, and flocks of sheep and cattle, Amanda’s father acts as a factor for his tenants who produce handicrafts. One of the most famous Devonshire handicrafts was Honiton lace, which was produced by craftspeople in their home cottages and then sent to the town of Honiton, where merchants marketed it to London and other large towns in England.

It’s thought that lacemaking originated in Italy in the 16th century and then spread throughout Europe. Some credit the lace-making tradition in Honiton to Flemish weavers who came over to pursue the cloth trade, for the town had been a center for the weaving of wool and flax since medieval times. Whether Flemish weavers brought the techniques or not, by the time that Charles II was making lace collars and cuffs fashionable, the lace makers of the Honiton area were developing their unique style of embroidery, drawn-thread, and cutwork.

Honiton lace is best known for its floral and leaf motifs, which were the result of several craftsmen’s group efforts. The flower or leaf design would be made by one designer; then the pieces, called “sprigs,” would be stitched together in larger pieces. The lace patterns were made using pairs of slender pointed bobbins. The lacemaker would prick out a design on parchment, which was pinned atop a small, firm pillow stuffed with straw or sawdust. Pins would be inserted into the design, around which the threads would be woven and plaited to create the design. These flower pieces were then stitched to a net background.

During the mid-18th–19th centuries, it was estimated that nearly half the population in the area were engaged in the lace business. However, like many handcrafts lacemaking suffered after the introduction of power looms.

Queen Victoria did her part to revive the craft. When she married Prince Albert in 1840, her dress was to be trimmed with Flemish lace, but the Queen insisted the lace on her gown be English instead. An order was placed with Tuckers in the nearby town of Branscombe, who was then the largest employer of lace makers in the area. When the couple’s first child was born, the christening gown was also trimmed with Honiton lace; the gown was used for royal christenings for many years, until the cloth became too fragile. The royal family continues to order Honiton lace for special occasion; in 1981, Lady Diana Spencer’s gown was trimmed with Honiton lace.

Allhallow’s Museum, a 13th century former chapel that is the oldest building in Honiton, contains an extensive collection of historic lace. There are also many shops in town specializing in lace and the local pottery for which Honiton is also famed.

After Amanda gives Greville a tour of her father’s estate, he’s almost as impressed by his host’s vast and varied enterprises as he is by his beautiful hostess! I hope you will find Greville and Amanda’s story equally engaging.

So, how do you feel about lace? Is is a sweet luxury that whispers romance–or when trimming lingerie, something naughtier? Or an old-fashioned fabric that should give way to modern textiles? I wish I might offer one responder a piece of Honiton lace, but will have to limit myself to a copy of Disreputable!

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