I had my third bobbin lace lesson on Sunday, after much panicked practicing of last lesson’s piece the day before, and, well, it was pretty freakin’ awesome! My teacher promised that I’d done a good job practicing my fan lace:
And I think it’s not too shabby myself. There’s a massive mistake around the pointy bit of the third fan and I got really stressed out trying to figure out where and how. Once I realized what I’d done, I saw that I’d have had to take out a whole fan to fix it, which just didn’t seem worth it for a practice piece. I know what my mistake was and that’s the important part – and, hopefully, spending all that energy trying to figure it out will keep me mindful of doing the same thing again.
So at my third lesson yesterday, we went over variations on the fan lace, and in the process learned a bit about how to manipulate the lace with extra twists. If you look at the bit I did in my lesson:
You can see that each fan is actually different from each other, and that the ‘ground’ (the net-ish bit) changes halfway through. The awesome part is that I actually understand what’s going on in these fans. In my last lesson, I was most definitely still just doing what my teacher told me to do without understanding why or what was happening as I twisted those tiny little bobbins. I’m pretty excited to finally feel like I have a grasp on what it’s all about!
I realized that I got so excited about sharing this all when I first started that I never actually told you what bobbin lace is! If you’re interested in the history at all, I’ll direct you to the Wikipedia page for bobbin lace (or what some people call ‘pillow lace’) because I don’t know anything about that (yet!). I know some of my antique needlework books have sections on bobbin lace and I’m looking forward to reading them someday – not yet though, because I could so easily get overwhelmed by information I don’t even understand yet – but basically, bobbin lace uses simple twists of thread and pins to create cotton lace that might be used as insertions or edgings or even collars and doilies. Small amounts of fine cotton or linen thread, typically, are wound on wooden bobbins like these, and then the threads are passed over and under each other in pairs in a somewhat row-like fashion (depending on what exactly you’re doing). Extra twists in pairs of threads will create stability and manipulate the look of the lace, and pins are used to position the threads exactly as you want them. Describing the action isn’t easy at all, so check out this youtube video to get an idea of how it’s done – it’s got a slightly distressing soundtrack, but shows the basic idea pretty well. You can also visit the Flickr Bobbin Lace Pool for some stunning examples (many of which will feature in this week’s Mid-Week Break, I’m sure) of what you can do with bobbin lace!