Lucets have been used since the 1650's to make a square non-elastic chain
or cord. The unique craft is small and gives a lady something to do with
her hands and to occupy a lady's time. The cords were used as drawstrings
for bags, used in upholstery, as jewelry, or as chains to hang lockets,
watches, and eyeglasses. Sailors used a larger version to make ropes for
their ships when out at sea. By the late 1800's the lucet was losing
popularity as commercial cording was being produced and could be purchased
for less money.
A lucet, sometimes called a chain fork or hayfork, is a lyre-shaped device
that is flat and two-pronged. Some lucets have a handle for ease of use.
The size of the chain could be fine or coarse, depending on the size and
sturdiness of the lucet and the nature of the thread or yarn. A hole in
the base of the lucet guides the finished braid and usually indicates the
size of the cord that can be made.
To work you lucet, hold it in your
left hand with the ball of thread in your right hand. The end of the
thread is passed through the hole (figure 1C) from back (figure 1A) to
front (figure 1B) and secured by holding it with your thumb. Wind thread
in front of and then behind the right horn (figure 1D), in front of and
behind the left horn (figure 1E), then right again creating a figure eight
(figure 1F). Bring the cord out behind the right horn. This top thread on
the right hand horn is the working thread (figure 1G).
With the right thumb and forefinger grasp the back of the lower right horn
loop, slip it over the working thread (figure 2H) and over the top of the
horn. Pull the working thread to the right to tighten the loop against the
horn (figure 3H).
|Pull the working
thread to the right to tighten the loop against the horn (figure 3H).
Grasping the thread from behind the horn loosens the loop. Grasping the
thread from the front of the horn tightens the previous stitch down to the
The lucet is then turned around in the hand bringing the right horn
forward from the right to left. The thread and know are pulled across and
tightened against what is now the right horn (figure 4H). With the thumb
and forefinger of the right hand grasp the back of the lower right horn
loop, slip it over the working thread and over the top of the horn. The
process continues as before until the desired length is achieved.
| To end the cord, instead of lifting the
loop, cut the thread, leaving about a six-inch tail. Thread the tail down
through the loop on the right hand horn. Slip the loop off the horn, and
pull on the thread until the loop closes. Now thread the tail down through
the loop on the left hand horn. Slip the loop off the horn, and pull on
the thread until the loop closes.
braid should be a square cord that looks like knit or chain stitches on
all four sides.