Lucet – or lucette? Bumbling through my battered old An Illustrated Companion to the Decorative Arts I came across the mention of this cord-making gadget, and knew it was another bit of historical textile technique I’d love to try, which looked good for pocket-sized projects on the go.
I opted for no handle for my lucet and drew a rough shape that I thought would be a comfy fit for my hands. My handy husband chopped out the shape with his jigsaw, and with a bit of sanding by me and a drop of tung oil it was ready to go. Top of the Youtube results on a search for ‘How to lucet’ was easy to follow, and although I found my first few minutes a bit of a tangle, it was surprisingly easy to get the hang of the basic square cord.
So, as for our ancestors in Britain, who would’ve used them? The Halldor the Viking website says that there’s no evidence for Anglo-Saxon or early Medieval lucets in Britain (though presumably some of those Vikings bought their lucets with them?), while the Soper Lane website explains that the use of the lucet had waned in popularity by the late 12th/early 13th century, before becoming popular again in the 17th century. This makes me wonder how people kept their clothes on between 13th and 17th centuries, if cording was so important for attaching hose, bodices and so forth? The lovely Lucet Co website suggests continued 19th century use of the lucet, and the V&A online catalogue lists one lucet, boxwood, 1800s – no image.
In Oct 2002 British Archaeology mag mentioned a Medieval bone lucet found in the excavation of St Leonard’s hospital, York. Penelope Walton Rogers, however, was more cautious in her 1997 write-up of the small textile finds at Coppergate, York. I’ll keep finding out more about the archaeology reveals about lucets, and in the meantime try to learn some new braiding techniques too.
Back to my lucet… What I’ll do with these cords I have no firm idea yet, but friendship bracelets, lanyards and shoelaces seem a good place to start, and I’m going to make a larger lucet so I can make a yoga belt and dog lead too.