Things I wish I knew when I started making bobbin lace


Hindsight is a wonderful thing!  Here’s a list of things I wish I knew when I started making bobbin lace:

  • Join a lace group or make contact with other lacemakers via the internet. It is a wonderful way to share knowledge, find inspiration, ask questions, and tap into the collective knowledge of more experienced lacemakers.
  • Find a lace mentor or friend to help you make that first stitch.
  • Read as much as possible about lacemaking but don’t get stuck on it.  Start making lace and learn as you go.
  • There are many different styles and types of bobbins. They vary greatly in price – from simple, mass-produced wooden or plastic bobbins, to beautiful hand-turned and painted bone or wooden bobbins that are collectors’ items in their own right. Don’t feel obliged to use a particular type of bobbin – choose the type that you feel most comfortable working with.
  • Once you have wound your bobbins, avoid touching the thread with your fingers. Learn to lengthen or shorten the thread on your bobbin without touching the thread with your fingers. Your fingers contain a lot of natural oils, and repeatedly touching the thread may result in discolouration of the thread.
  • Use pins of an appropriate length and diameter for the lace that you are making. Pins should be rustless (eg, brass or stainless steel) to avoid rust stains on your lace.
  • Learn as much as you can about how to choose the most appropriate thread for the lace that you want to make. Experiment with different types of thread to find out firsthand how each behaves.
  • Use a cover cloth to cover your lace and pillow when you are not making lace. Dust and cat/dog hair have an uncanny ability to find your lace and your lace pillow.
  • Learn to read coloured working diagrams. This is the universal language of lacemakers the world over. Once you understand how to do this, you will be able to work patterns printed in foreign language books/magazines.
  • Don’t get disheartened if you make mistakes – you learn a lot about lacemaking by undoing your mistakes.
  • If you intend making Chantilly, Binche or Honiton, you need to do it sooner rather than later. As our eyesight changes over the years, it becomes more and more challenging to work these delicate laces in fine threads. Not impossible, just harder.
  • Document your lacemaking journey right from the start. Create a file to save all your lace samples and take photos of all the lace that you make. You will be glad you did – it is wonderful to look back on your first lacemaking samples and to see how your skill and technique have developed over time.