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Negative Space in Design


Through the centuries simple tools have created intricately beautiful pieces of bobbin lace, knitted lace, crocheted lace, macramé lace and tatted lace. Of all these types of lace, tatted lace may be the oldest. The play of light reflected by the turning threads is a source of fascination, beauty and inspiration. A great variety of openwork fabrics can be formed by twisting, crossing, plaiting, looping, knitting or knotting threads by hands plying with needle, hook, bobbin or shuttle.



But, in essence, lace is but a lot of holes surrounded by thread. The pattern formed by the threads catches our eyes when we see it in detail. But, if we step back and view the lace from a slight distance, it is often the "holes" or the negative space which captures the eye instead. So does the negative contribute to the design? Yes! the negative space provides a contrast to the positive space, i.e., the thread and completes the lace composition.







Cathedral Doily from Book 4 of the Ribbonwinners Series, "Tatting on the Edge...and Beyond", and is used with the permission of the author.




Here is a doily rescued from a bin at an antique store. I have been intrigued by it ever since. You will note that it is not a regular round after round. Originally, I tried several times to write the pattern without success. My last attempt had it going in a serpentine fashion. But, again, I got lost in the maze. Take a close look at it and see if you can write the pattern or diagram it.



















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