Cavandoli and Lace

 It’s been kind of a long week, but I’m feeling much better than I did last week. I have a bunch of ideas for a project, and I’m working on a couple of other projects, but today I wanted to talk about something near and dear to my heart: lace. More specifically, knotted lace. This is a wide category that includes tatting and macrame, so even more specifically, I want to talk about a particular kind of non-lace knot work and adapting it to lace. Today, we’re talking about two interrelated things: Cavandoli work (both diagonal and horizontal), and friendship bracelets. 

Pretty much every kid knows friendship bracelets — worked in embroidery floss or thread, using a series of double half hitches to make stripes or chevrons or other similar patterns. 

These are pictures of a friendship bracelet I’m making with a simple chevron pattern. It’s pretty simple to do patterns of this sort; almost everyone I knew when I was younger had made at least one or two. 

Cavandoli work is a little less well known (although most “alpha” friendship bracelet patterns are horizontal Cavandoli work). It was popularized by Valentina Cavandoli, an Italian teacher who taught her students the horizontal version to keep them occupied. She mostly worked with orphans and kids whose parents had tuberculosis, and they sold the finished product to make money for the kids. Typical Cavandoli work is like weaving with knots — it has warp and weft, and which one does the tying determines the color of the knot, like in weaving where having either the warp or weft in front determines the color. It can be worked in horizontal lines or diagonal lines (popular in Peru, I believe); I have a belt from Peru with a complex diamond pattern which is diagonal Cavandoli. 

The interesting thing about that belt is that it has sections where it splits into smaller bands which are worked next to each other, then joined back together after a few inches. This creates an effect like slits in weaving. 

The slits gave me an idea. 

I’m figuring out Cavandoli lacework. Lace, worked into patterns more complex than just slits (although slits are the easiest way to work lace in these). Vertical slits combined with the possibilities of horizontal slits (working over a whole bunch of threads as one for a given number of rows, leaving the bunch always on the side of the hole) would allow pretty much infinite lace patterns. I’ll report back as I make these patterns. 

Cavandoli Work Resources: 

Italian Needlework: Cavandoli Macrame, from Italian Needlework

Cavandoli - What Is It, from Marion Jewels in Fiber

How Did They Do That? Cavandoli, from PieceWork


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