It is doubtful whether the particulars of the deed of division between Angela and Ippolita Sforza Visconti of Milan, of the year 1463, refer to works of punto a reticello by the words radexelo, radexela radexele, redicelle. It is, however, certain that by radexela was often meant any kind of net, not of lace ;
but on the other hand, it is frequently used by authors to signify lace (merletto). Thus Giacomo Franco, in his Nuova inventione de diverse mostri (New inventions of different patterns), printed in 1596, gives examples of laces which he calls radixeli, and which were a kind of ornament that might have been used in the 15th century. Moreover, in the pictures of Gentile Bellini, in the Royal Institute of Fine Arts at Venice, there are represented several women with their necks and bosoms covered with the kind of lace which we are describing. Vercellio in the Corona also figures a luce very like Greek lace, which he calls a reticello. The wonderful perfection to which this lace had reached at the end of the 16th century is shown by a portrait of Tensino prefixed to his works, printed in the last years of that century. This lace, greatly resembling cut lace, lost its value on account of the change of fashion ; but two centuries later Francesca Bulgarini, who died in 1762, left, as is stated by Merli ( wonderful examples of it executed by herself, resembling the reticello of the Venetians.
As in cut lace, there were anciently two methods for working punto a reticello.
Take a piece of linen, on which mark out a number of small squares. Then pull out transversely, for instance, eight threads of the linen, so that nothing will be left but the perpendicular threads as in A of figure 5
Count off four perpendicular threads, which, will form, as it were, a lateral division between which cut away, at their upper ends, other eight perpen¬dicular threads, thus leaving an open space. This will form an equilateral square, as in B of fig. 5 Continue in this way to treat all the four spaces; always remembering to leave the four threads which form the division and to cut away the next eight. If you wish to make an upper series of open squares, you must leave four transversal threads, which will thus form a division, as you have done in the lateral squares below.
How it Works
When all the squares are made out, as in fig. 5, work over all the outlines with button-hole stitch, as in fig. 2. When this is done, the interior of the squares must be filled in with the patterns given in fig. 4. In order to do this, fix a thread in the up¬per corner to the left (fig. 6 A], if you are going to work the pattern A fig. 4; make one button-hole stitch , then a row of 3; then of 5 etc. etc. as in fig. 6, which is done by introducing the needle into the loop of the stitch of the row above, as in fig. 6.
When you have thus filled up half the square finish the work by cutting the thread. The small purls, indicated in A of fig. 4, must be done as you work, and when you are making the last row of the button-hole stitch add two or three stitches where you wish to have the edging, and then continue the button-hole stitch.
The design B in fig. 4 is done by drawing several parallel threads from A to B of fig 8, and fastening them at those points. If, for example, there are six threads, divide them into two groups by covering three with button-hole stitch and afterwards adding the purls, as in fig. 7.
The pattern G can be worked, as in fig. 9, by drawing two threads across from A to B and from C to D, which will cross each other; then adding a circle of thread which is fixed to the others with button-hole stitch, and with threads drawn from the sides; these are also to be covered with the same stitch.
The border, or lace edging, is done in a differ¬ent way, by changing the arrangement of the threads, but generally by drawing across a semicircle of thread from A to B, as in fig. to, which is fastened at both ends, and afterwards covered with button-hole stitch, and by filling up the open spaces with threads arranged according to fancy, which are also to be covered with button-hole stitch
Source: VENETIAN LACE by Urbani de Gheltof