Bobbin Lace, Lesson 4 + 5

Bobbin Lace lessons 4 +5

I haven’t updated you on my bobbin lace progress for a while, but I skipped a bit because I’ve been working on the same piece for a couple of lessons. This is a tiny, maybe 4″ per side, square piece of edging I’ve been working on. It’s an extension of the fan border I learned before this, but this time incorporating corners – I thought my teacher had lost her mind when she said I could work around the corner by myself at home.

Bobbin Lace lessons 4 +5

But I figured it out! She’d told me what to do during the lesson, but I could barely remember (why on earth don’t I ever take notes during the lessons? why?) by the time I got there at home. It took about an hour of puzzling and going back-and-forth between the pattern and every tiny thread, but I did it. I was a very proud student indeed. And when I took it back to my teacher, she was very proud of my even tension, which I’d been really concentrating on as I worked. Picture me beaming – I’m such a teacher’s pet and I don’t even care.

I’ve gotten this far since my last lesson and need to finish it off – not that I actually know how to finish, by the way – by my next lesson on Sunday, then I think I will sew it onto a tiny square of one of my precious pink Liberty scraps for framing. ‘Cause what would be cuter than tiny pink beginner’s lace than tiny pink beginner’s lace + Liberty fabric?!

Bobbin Lace, Lesson 3

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:

Bobbin Lace, lesson 2 practice
Bobbin Lace, lesson 2 practice

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.

Bobbin Lace, Lesson 3

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:

Bobbin Lace, Lesson 3

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!

Bobbin Lace, Lesson 3

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!

Bobbin Lace, Lesson 2

Whew, the Project That Ate The Entire Universe (aka my new knitting pattern) is just about finished. Thank goodness! I really missed doing other things, like sleeping and stuff. The new Little Dorrit & Co. embroidery patterns are almost ready as well, I’ll show you those when they go up in the shop later in the week. I was even able to enjoy my second lace lesson yesterday, out in my teacher’s lovely garden.

Bobbin lace lesson 2

Ok, so the second lesson was a little overwhelming. We crammed a lot of information into two tiny hours! This is my second sample, but honestly, I can’t remember what it is! I have some handouts to remind me, and I think I better take an evening out this week to take notes and practice. At the same time though, there is something starting click somewhere in my thick and soupy brain. It’s only baby understanding though — I can’t even put my finger on what makes sense exactly, there were just moments where it seemed almost logical. For about a minute. Anyway, we got all the way to trying a basic shell pattern in the second lesson, but only through one shell. I’ve been told to finish and maybe try it all over, but I’m pretty sure I forgot what to do the second I left the lesson.

I’ll try to finish it later this week and I’ll show it off if I manage to get anywhere decent. Wish me luck!

Bobbin Lace Beginnings

So I didn’t quite manage it, the 7 days / 7 posts thing. I crapped out on the last day, how pathetic! But in my defence, I’ve never done one of those blog-every-day things before and I wildly underestimated how much time and thought it would take. I kept leaving posts until too late in the day, when I was tired and braindead.

Also, I was doing something really awesome yesterday! I had my first lesson in making bobbin lace, or pillow lace, which is the same thing as far as I know. I met a woman at my local Embroiderers’ Guild branch – actually, I overheard her talking to someone else about making lace and butted in – who gives semi-private lessons at her house. I’d had a hankering to learn how to make bobbin lace for a while, but couldn’t even imagine where to start. Luckily, this woman was kind enough to invite an over-excited American stranger into her home, and I went along yesterday for my first lesson!


My first lesson taught me about winding bobbins, what the different threads do, and the first few basic stitches. My teacher said I should go home, label each bit of my piece in a notebook so I can use it as a reference, and then try everything we did all over, without her.


I’ve done all but the last thing, which is both exciting and scary. I can’t wait to try again – I hope I remember everything!

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