Over the past few days, I’ve been sharing with you some photos from a reader who enjoyed some time in Cyprus learning about Lefkaritika, or Lefkara Lace, a traditional form of embroidery from the island. Today, I’m continuing the topic, showing you some close up photos of some of the different motifs used in Lefkara lace.
To start, though, let’s look how the Cypriots traditionally work on their lace. They use pillows. This is not to be confused with a bobbin lace pillow, though – but it serves some of the same purposes.
Working on a colored pillow that is propped in the lacemakers lap or on a table or chair, the lacemaker pins the linen to the pillow on three sides, leaving one side free where the hand can slip in to hold the work. The embroidery and the drawn thread work are done in such a manner that either is up – the back looks just as good as the front, so the lace is completely reversible. That’s quite a feat!
Though there seem to be many designs for the various elements in Lefkara lace – lots of different takes on the drawn thread elements and on the geometric embroidered elements – the fact is, Lefkara lace is limited in design. There are relatively few traditional patterns for the lace.
Still, though the designs are supposedly few, I love to see the variety of wrapped bars and lacy insets in the drawn thread work.
Notice the gridded area over on the left. You can see that woven bars, typical of filet embroidery, are also used in Lefkara lace.
Notice how, in the embroidered parts of the lace, the design moves from geometric, to a kind of scroll. This squarish scroll work reminds me of Greek designs for some reason. I don’t know if there’s a connection, but that’s what it reminds me of!
These picots show up often in Lefkara lace – they dot the lace that finished the outside edge of the linen. This lace is made with buttonhole stitch – it’s not tatted (as some readers asked). It’s all done by needle. Elissa commented that she found the picots a bit more difficult to make than a typical buttonhole picot.
You can see that woven wheels are a typical element in the drawn thread part of Lefkara lace, and that eyelets are typical in the embroidered areas.
Here’s an example of woven bars, and a good shot of the lace scallops on the outside edge.
I like this circle pattern over the wrapped bars. The circles are made by buttonhole “arches” between the crossed wrapped bars. I do love the variety in the drawn thread work!
And finally, this little element – the design reminds me of a sunrise. (Or a fan block on a quilt…)
I hope you’ve enjoyed looking at Lefkara lace up close! Thanks, Elissa, for all the photos and the information!
If you want to see my previous posts on the subject, where you can also find some good information and resources in the readers’ comments at the end of the articles, here are the links:
If you’re looking for your own piece of Lefkara lace, maybe to give as a special wedding gift or to adorn your own home, feel free to visit the Lefkara Handicraft Center and cooperative, which helps keep the traditions of Lefkaritika alive and which aids the lacemakers make a fair living from their skills.
If you have any further information or resources on Lefkara lace, or any questions that I or another reader might be able to help you with, please feel free to leave a comment below.