Bobbin Lace Walkthrough, Part Two

Ok, so last time, we finished a triangle of ground pattern and were just about to start working on a spider. Spiders are these diamond-shaped decorative elements you see in lace sometimes; my teacher says she likes them because they cover a lot of space with only a little effort. From what I hear, some people really hate doing them, but I can’t imagine why – they are awfully confusing at first, but once you get the hang of it, they’re so fun!

Bobbin Lace - Part 2

If you look closely at my spiders, you’ll see a tiny diamond-shaped border around each one. This is called a ‘trail’, and it is worked much like the ground was – in half-stitch again, but instead of pinning at each point on a grid, it’s worked in tiny rows that zig-zag down from the top point out to each side point (and then back again to the lower point after the spider is completed). Can you see that there’s a tight zig-zag pattern all around the diamond? That’s the trail.

Bobbin Lace - Part 2

I am purposely brushing past the trail a little because, although it is worked very easily in simple rows, it’s so tiny that I fear it would difficult to show properly. The above photo shows the top half of the trail finished, which means the top border of the upcoming spider is done and now I have four pairs on either side all set up to be used for the spider. The rest of my bobbins are pushed out of the way for the moment, I only need these eight pairs for now. These pairs are each twisted together a number of times before anything happens, so that they make nicely defined little legs coming from the border. This will be more visible as we go on.

You can see the pattern for the spider below my work; as my teacher always says, ‘just follow the lines’. Of course those lines make no sense at all at first, but with a little practice, I could finally see that they were telling me where each pair should go, like directions on a map.

Bobbin Lace - Part 2

The basic idea of a spider is that the four (in this case) pairs on one side will all work through the four pairs on the other side, making a little pattern where they all meet in the center. Sometimes something fun and different will go on as well, but it will always essentially work that way. This one has a little fun stuff going on. Above, I’ve worked a little stitch at the top and put up a pin, which give the top a bit of extra definition. Then I did as is usual, working the four pairs on the left through the four pairs on the right. This means that the first pair on the left does a half-stitch through each right pair. Then the second left pair does a half-stitch through each right pair. Etc.

Bobbin Lace - Part 2

Because this spider has some fun shenanigans going on, some of the pairs weave around a bit before leaving the spider. I won’t go into specifics with that because each spider pattern is different and that’s just confusing. But that is why there’s some pins on the sides. In this case, it makes the spider into a little round ring, rather than a clump of stitches all together.

Then the four left pairs repeat their actions as before, finishing off the spider. Think of it as being horizontally symmetrical: my 8 (total) pairs did a little dance in the top half of the spider, then weaved around a bit in the middle, then have to repeat their dance below to make it match, then the pin at the bottom point as at the top.

Bobbin Lace - Part 2

Then each pair leaves the spider just as it came in: twisted together the same number of times as above so that the legs are again tight and well-defined (8 twisted legs coming from the border *into* the spider, then 8 twisted legs coming *from* the spider). I use those legs to work the bottom half of the trail, and now I have another completed section: a fancy half-stitch spider, surrounded by a tiny half-stitch trail.

2 Comments on Bobbin Lace Walkthrough, Part Two

  1. Chrissie
    May 10, 2013 at 20:01 (5 years ago)

    This is utterly fascinating!!! I so appreciate how you are showing us so much detail in each step. I watched some bobbin lace making at the Weald & Downland Open Air Museum a few years back – it looked scary intimidating but beautifully intriguing at the same time. You are so clever! Chrissie x

  2. Genevieve
    May 14, 2013 at 18:18 (5 years ago)

    It’s beautiful! Thanks for putting all that work into the walkthrough! I would LOVE to try bobbin lace sometime. I think I’ll have my sis teach me when she gets going. :)



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