Let’s talk lace books


Books are the bees which carry the quickening pollen from one to another mind.  

– James Russell Lowell

If you look at my collection of lace books you would think the pollination process took a long, long time.  And you would be right.  It did.  Truth is, I spent far too long reading and not making.

I’ve been collecting lace books for years and years – since childhood and long before the instant internet access era.

I know now, that while reading built a strong foundation for my lacemaking, the real learning started when I made the first stitch and my first mistake.

But, for me, nothing compares with some quiet time sitting on the deck with a stack of lace books and a good strong cuppa.

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Here are six of my favourite general technique books.

The Technique of Bobbin Lace by Pamela Nottingham

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This book is described as one of the most authoritative books on bobbin lace. It provides a very useful overview of the basics – bobbins, pillows, prickings, pins, threads and basic stitches.  This is followed by chapters dedicated to Torchon, Bedfordshire and Bucks Point.  Each chapter contains a selection of patterns (arranged progressively), with very comprehensive step-by-step instructions on how to work each pattern.  There is also a chapter about joining and mounting lace.

I love the fact that this book contains very comprehensive written instructions – as a beginner, I found it easy and logical to follow.  Because the patterns are arranged progressively, it allowed my skills and confidence to grow systematically as I worked my way through the Torchon patterns.

For me, this book provided a great foundation in making bobbin lace.  While the working diagrams are not colour coded, the comprehensive written instructions are more than adequate to compensate for this.

Introduction to Bobbin Lacemaking by Rosemary Shepherd

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For me, this is possibly one of the greatest beginner bobbin lace instruction books.  It provides a detailed and thorough introduction to the basic skills of bobbin lacemaking.

The book contains a series of Torchon exercises with comprehensive working diagrams and explanations.  The philosophy that underpins the book is that Torchon lace techniques are easily applied to other kinds of lacemaking – if properly learned, it establishes good working habits which will simplify the progression to more complex laces.

If you are a beginner, and you had to choose one book only, I recommend that this is the one.


The Bobbin Lace Manual by Geraldine Stott

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A great resource that is literally crammed full of useful information.  The book was deliberately constructed in a very unusual way.  Instead of putting the basic introductory information in the introductory chapters, it is scattered throughout the book in between the various lessons.

The patterns are set out in order of difficulty and each one introduces at least one new lacemaking skill.  The book is packed with valuable basic knowledge, handy hints and tips, fascinating folklore and ‘know how’.

The patterns and information in this book are presented in a manner that is unlike any other beginner bobbin lacemaking book I’ve come across – it makes for great, interesting reading.


Practical Skills in Bobbin Lace by Bridget M. Cook

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This is an extraordinary reference work and is probably the most useful lacemaking book I own.

The book contains hundreds of very detailed diagrams and explanations of lacemaking techniques – eg, starts and edges, joins and sewings, connections and crossings, picots, tallies, plaits and braids, raised work, fillings, indentation, corners, curves, cordonnet, gimps, completions, endings and finishings.

The diagrams are very detailed and the explanations clear and logical.  This is my ‘go to’ book if I want clear, detailed instructions on a particular lace technique.


Invisible – Hidden Starts and Finishes in Bobbin Lace by Martina Wolter-Kampmann



A great instruction manual on how to start and finish lace invisibly.  The book is in English and in German, and has an accompanying DVD that demonstrates some of the techniques.  The book contains a lot of photos and detailed diagrams to demonstrate the starts and finishes for various types of lace.

It also contains prickings for practice pieces so that you can try your hand at the techniques demonstrated in the book.

A super useful resource if you want to learn how to finish your lace invisibly.


Threads for Lace by Brenda Paternoster



This handy little book will teach you everything you need to know about thread, and how to select the most appropriate thread size for the lace that you want to make.  It contains a comprehensive survey of more than 1,800 different types of thread.  The threads are listed in groups under fibre type and then alphabetically by manufacturer.  This is followed by a comparison of thread thicknesses based on wraps/cm.



You can see more of my favourite bobbin lace books on Pinterest.

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Thanks for visiting, see you next Sunday!

7 thoughts

  1. Thank you so much Yvette! I shall be following your blog avidly. Beautifully written and presented.

  2. Thanks Yvette! I did my first pieces of bobbin lace with Rosemary Shepherd back in the 80’s and this book was our text. I loved her simple explanations and her passion. I will certainly be looking out for some of the other books you recommend, now my passion for bobbin lace has been renewed. Thanks!

  3. Lovely! Except that yours are neat, I thought I was looking at my own bookshelf. Sometimes I find lace books on the sale bin or in the thrift shop and I know nobody else will love them so I add them to mine. Some day my own collection may be binned just like that…Good idea to catalogue your favourites.

  4. Thanks Yvette – I briefly used Rosemary Shepherd’s book as a beginner many years ago. Did not continue more than a couple of weeks, but dream of beginning again. Will follow your blog with interest.
    Lesleigh 4Feb16

    1. Thanks Lesleigh. Rosemary Shepherd’s book is one of my favourite beginner’s books. Hope you give bobbin lacemaking another go some time soon 🙂

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