Vologda lace

Our river trip in May 2013 took us through the Vologda oblast (region). We made a stop to visit the Kirillo-Belozersky monastery.  Unfortunately it was a cold, dull and drizzly day – the only dreary day we had on the trip – and I didn’t take any photographs there.

What the name ‘Vologda’ brings to mind to me is lace – Vologda being probably the most famous centre of lace-making in Russia. (Yelets in Orel province is also an important centre.) I know very little about the technique of making lace (more about embroidery and printed textiles), though I have quite a few examples in my own collection of Russian textiles. Lace features in many styles of historical Russian dress, in all layers of society.

From Russian Bobbin Lace: ‘There are two main types of lace, namely needlepoint lace, made with a needle, and bobbin (or pillow) lace – the traditional type of lace-making in Russia. Bobbin lace is made on a pillow, to which the parchment or paper pattern is pinned. A number of threads, with a pair of bobbins attached to each, are tied to the pins, and the bobbins are moved from side to side to form a twist, a braid, or a clothlike fabric.

In turn, there are two types of bobbin lace. The first is straight lace, made on a stationary pillow and worked in one direction as a single piece, pattern and ground together. The second is part lace, which, as its name suggests, is made in a number of small pieces, afterwards hooked or sewn together, or linked by separately worked tie-bars (or brides) or mounted on a network ground.’


Two lace mats bought at TSUM (department store in Moscow), in 1987


‘Vologodskii Sunset’: from ‘Russian Lace Patterns’ (Korableva & Cook)


Woman’s festive clothes. Kargopol, Archangel Province. Late 19th-early 20th centuries. Vologda lace stole – late 19th c. (Bobbin lace in linen thread). State History Museum, Moscow


The museum of lace in the city of Vologda features in a slideshow on the russiatrek.org blog, and some contemporary lacemakers explain their craft on a ‘Russia Today’ video.

The patchwork designs used throughout the branding of the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics drew on motifs from many different Russian crafts, including Vologda lace.  Have a look at the website of Bosco, the supplier who devised the look. Click on ‘Look of the Games’ to find more about all these crafts.


There are lots of books about lace in Russian but here are a few in English:

Russian Bobbin Lace. Valeria Faleyeva. Aurora Art Publishers, Leningrad, 1986

Russian Lace Patterns. Anna Korableva & Bridget M Cook. Batsford, London, 1996

Russian Embroidery and Lace. L Yefimova & R Belogorskaya. Thames & Hudson, London, 1987 (also published in Russian by Izobrazitelnoye Iskusstvo, Moscow, 1982)

Two more general books, which mention Russian lace:

Antique Lace: Identifying Types and Techniques. Heather Toomer. Schiffer, Atglen PA, 2001

Lace: The Elegant Web. Janine Montupet & Ghislaine Schoeller. Abrams, New York, 1990




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