I am learning bobbin lace!

June 12, 2013 at 4:26 PM 14 comments

Sorry I haven’t posted for a while. One among many inadequate excuses is that I am learning a new thing, bobbin lace making. I love learning new things, it is one of my favourite things to do 🙂 and this one is fun and pretty and something I never imagined being able to do. It always looked so complicated, with fifty trillion bobbins and surely it has to be to produce such intricate and gorgeous stuff?

Complicated! (Image from Wikimedia commons – this is not me, not yet…)

But no, it is actually really easy at the beginner level 😀

I saw it being demonstrated at a lovely museum, the Ruddington Framework Knitting museum – well worth a visit if you are anywhere near Nottingham. Instead of being delicate, all white and as incomprehensible as calculus in Finnish it was colourful, simple and looked more like weaving than anything. Plus you don’t have to buy loads of expensive kit, you can make bobbins from rolled up paper, a pillow from some polystyrene packaging and use any kind of thread and normal pins. And there are loads of tutorials online so you don’t even need to buy a book.

So I resolved to have a go!

But I prefer learning from a book than online, so I ordered this book:

It’s very simple and basic, just what I wanted to get started. But it didn’t use just any old thread, it only had prickings for a very specific size and if you use the wrong size thread with the pricking the tension is all wrong 😦

I ordered some bobbins off the internet because I was too impatient to make my own from old magazines, though I do think that is a good idea. Then we went to town in search of cotton perle number 8. But there was none to be had! Pretty much every other size, but not that one. So it was more ordering off the internet and waiting for deliveries. When I had all the stuff I set up on some old packaging and made my first very wonky bookmark! I was pleased to see that the tail was less wonky than the head 🙂

My first and second bits of lace :)

My first and second bits of lace 🙂

The first one is the purple one, in cloth stitch, also called whole stitch, then the orange one was my second, using a different stitch, half stitch. The edge was supposed to be another new stitch, doubles, but I found it hard to learn two new ones at once, as tensioning was a bit tricky on my crappy bit of packaging.

The second bit in progress on a bit of packaging.

The second bit in progress on a bit of packaging.

The other thing probably not helping my tension is that I ordered Honiton bobbins because they were cheap, but they are very light and small, designed for use with fine thread, and don’t have the spangles of beads at the bottom like most English bobbins. I do have three now with spangles and I look forward to gradually building a collection, including antique ones. The Honitons might not be ideal, but they work well enough, I just have to pull them maybe a bit more than heavier ones.

So anyway, I did two segments without the double edge, then the final two with it again and it worked better once I was used to the half stitch. I did make one other error in the first row of half stitch, which sent one of the yellow threads off on a random trajectory – it was supposed to be symmetrical 😦 in fact I spent a while working out how it would work with the colours because the original pattern just used two shades of blue. I have changed the colours of all of them so far! It is really useful to have more colours though because you can trace where each colour goes and understand what is actually happening with the threads.

I don’t just like to gain new skills, part of the joy and obsession is to understand them :D.

I was very excited about my new hobby, but the lack of a proper pillow was bugging me, so I turned to ebay once again and found a second hand mushroom pillow. It arrived on Monday so here is a pic of the third bit of lace in progress:

My new old lace pillow! :D

My new old lace pillow! 😀

It was much better on the pillow. This one is a simple torchon ground – torchon is the style of lace I am learning as it is supposed to be easy for beginners and works well on a large scale with colour. Apparently it comes from the French for dishrag! And here is the third bookmark, finished!

My third bit of lace.

My third bit of lace.

As for the year of finishing things (and not starting new ones) this is both a massive fail as I started a whole new hobby and a big success as I have finished three things! Next I get to learn spiders. I am not a big fan of spiders, though they do look nice in lace. I am considering whether it would be better to use pretty colours so they don’t look too spidery or browns and blacks so they do look like real spiders 🙂 Although they are not my favourite creature, I am tending towards the latter as I think it would be fun and I have not seen it done.

Bother! I just pressed ‘publish’ by mistake instead of ‘preview’! So this has gone out into the world before I have finished editing it 😦 sorry if you see it before I manage to update the final edits.

Well, that’s about done now I reckon. Do you like learning new things? What’s your favourite new thing you learned? Or do you think calculus in Finnish sounds more appealing? 😀


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14 Comments Add your own

  • 1. timthepoet  |  June 12, 2013 at 9:31 PM

    You are impressive love.

  • 2. DarkStarBurning  |  June 14, 2013 at 2:53 PM

    Wow..totally rockin’ that lace, check out your progress ! I’m very impressed, I got a headache just thinking about having to juggle all those threads but that third one you did is fabulous ( though 1 and 2 have a high cute factor )
    Have a pat on the back young lady! *pats*

  • 3. Alyssa  |  June 14, 2013 at 10:24 PM

    I’ve always been interested in learning bobbin lace, but I barely have time for knitting now! So I’ll wait until I’m older I think. The bookmarks look too cute!

  • 4. bentehaarstad  |  June 16, 2013 at 10:24 PM

    Impressive! 🙂

  • 5. Lilian  |  June 28, 2013 at 7:45 PM

    Looks amazingly complicated to me! V impressed by your handiwork!

  • 6. tableofcolors  |  June 28, 2013 at 9:06 PM

    Nice job! Lace making is something I have never tried!

  • 7. Connie  |  August 7, 2013 at 1:15 AM

    how beautiful! And very impressive.

  • 8. Once in a Lifetime | The Accidental Cootchie Mama  |  August 18, 2013 at 9:00 AM

    […] Knotrune, a long-time stalwart of the Cootchie, blogs about craft and life, and I am always happy when she posts. Her blog is here: https://knotrune.wordpress.com/2013/06/12/i-am-learning-bobbin-lace/  […]

  • 9. Owls and Orchids  |  August 18, 2013 at 7:00 PM

    Very impressive… can you do tatting? I haven’t been able to master it.

    • 10. knotrune  |  August 18, 2013 at 10:23 PM

      I’ve had a go, though not done much. I couldn’t get it from books, had to find a you-tube video. The trick is in the tug you give it to flip the stitch, otherwise it doesn’t form properly, that’s what I was doing wrong anyway.

      • 11. Owls and Orchids  |  August 19, 2013 at 5:29 AM

        I tried for months and all I got was a huge knot, each one worse than the last. Eventually I put it aside for when I was ‘more patient’. Still haven’t gone back to it. 😊

  • 12. jannatwrites  |  October 24, 2013 at 4:36 PM

    Wow, this is so cool! I’d never heard of this, but the results are so pretty. Sorry, but all those bobbins are overwhelming to me…I don’t see me ever attempting it. (I can imagine the cats having a ball with them, though :))

    • 13. knotrune  |  October 24, 2013 at 6:21 PM

      It really is a lot easier than it looks! I had never thought it would be something I’d even try, but all it involves is putting left over right or right over left. The coloured thread helps too 🙂

      Fortunately my cat has never been tempted to play with either my bobbins or my wool, she is a good girl!

  • 14. Sinistra Inksteyne  |  March 5, 2014 at 1:04 AM

    Looks great, and indeed very tempting. I should probably avoid starting anything new though – especially if it’s something that involves precision and patience!


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