Sunday 10 June 2012

Tuppenny lace (for non lace makers)

As several people have asked how to make the simplest lace attached to Elizabeth Isham’s letter to her father, here are my instructions based on the assumption that you know nothing about lace making. Apologies to those who do know how to make lace.

First thing to say is that most early bobbin lace (does not apply to needlemade lace) is not made with a ground as modern lace tends to be. If you go to learn lace – assuming you are British rather than European -  you will probably start with torchon, then learn Beds (Bedfordshire), Bucks (Buckinghamshire) and last (because it requires a different type of bobbin) Honiton. This is how I learnt about 30 years ago. I gave up when the children were little and developed a disconcerting habit of turning my pillow upside down.
Starting point

The tuppenny lace requires four pairs of bobbins. Two pairs for the footside – the side you attach to fabric – and two pairs of workers that weave through. This photo hopefully not to blurred, shows ready for a pattern repeat. Before I started writing this I thought how hard can it be. Now I think this is something you learn by “sitting next to Nellie”.
Adding the first twists

Close over the pin with a whole stitch, that is weave the worker pair through the footside pair, this is not lace terminology but it is aimed at people who don’t know. Put in two twists, that is for each pair put the right hand bobbin over the left hand bobbin twice. Put two twists in the inner footside pair, then whole stitch (weave) the worker pair through the inner footside pair, and put in a pin. Bring in the second worker pair. With the two worker pairs work a three half stitch plait. Put up a pin, close round the pin. Put in two twists. With the right hand thread make a picot. Put in two twists. Put up a pin. With the two worker pairs work a three half stitch plait. Put up a pin. Whole stitch one pair of workers through the inner footside. Put up a pin. Put in two twists. Whole stitch the pair of workers through the outer footside. You are back where you started.
Whole stitch

Half stitch
The photographs of stitches I have taken from my 1931 copy of Margaret Maidment’s A manual of handmade bobbin lace work.  I afraid I am not very good with a camera, so everything is blurry. 

Half stitch plait

Suzanne wedding bouquet of lace
The best piece of lacemaking I was ever involved with was my tutor's wedding bouquet. This is entirely made of lace. It won the John Bull trophy, everyone Suzanne taught was involved, and she carried it on her wedding day. I made a few stephanotis leaves.

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