Sunday, February 11, 2024

Bobbin Lace


setting up the lace pillow

So, what is bobbin lace?

Well, it's kind of like weaving, where you build your loom as you make the textile; where warps can turn into wefts, and back again; where you can tie knots, or twist threads together, creating holes or plain weave (whole cloth) or any number of combinations to create different textures and holes.

People look at all the bobbins and shudder, but honestly?  You only (usually) work with four bobbins at a time.

There are only two things you can do - cross or twist.  It is in the order you do those two actions that the design begins to grow.  Working the bobbins is logical, too, as you follow design 'lines'.  (There is, of course, free-form lace, but that's not what I'm doing right now - I'm trying to re-learn the traditional Torchon lace stitches.)

Bobbin lace, like every other textile craft, has grown up in various locations, using different tools, and different approaches.  The complexity is in all those different approaches.  But when you break it down, it all comes from crosses and twists.

As I re-learn the craft I am also confronted with the variety of ways different instructors present the information.  Each one has their own approach to beginning a piece.  Some methods I find more helpful than others.  And then when I change sources, I have to figure out what each designer intended to happen, because the notation is simple and open to interpretation.

I think, however, I have learned enough to do an introductory session with someone who wants to learn.  Today I am challenging myself by upping the degree of difficulty again.  (Too soon?  Probably!)  I'm trying a bookmark I obviously made previously because the pricking has holes in it.  The problem is, I don't remember doing it, and I really don't remember how it was supposed to begin.  So, I fudged.  

The bookmark has areas of 'rose ground', which is fairly complex as it takes a longish series of pins, twists and crosses to complete.  But I like the look, and since the areas of rose ground are small, I'm going to give it a try and see if I can do it.

But I'm also working with sewing thread, not 2/16 or 2/20 cotton.  This is much finer and it's a much bigger challenge than I wanted, honestly.  However, the rose ground won't really show well in a thicker yarn, and I really want to see if I can produce something even close to the intended cloth.

After this, I think I'm going to tackle that little bird I made a couple of decades ago, from the design by Eeva-Lisa Kortelahti.  She is Finnish and has a number of books out with a large variety of traditional and modern designs.  I like her work, although most of it is far above my skill level.  But I do remember making a flock of these birds a long time ago and enjoying them.  Every one was different as I tried (and tried) to make them the way they were intended.

Once again textiles reminded me that just because something isn't 'perfect' doesn't mean they are 'bad'.  In the end, I doubt anyone (who doesn't make lace) would know (or care) that my little birds weren't entirely the way they were intended by the designer.  

And bobbin lace is something else I can do quietly during the night when I can't sleep.  Making lace provides enough distraction I can more or less ignore the pain.  And that, all by itself, is worth my fwipping the bobbins quietly.

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