Saturday, April 30, 2016

Bobbin Lace and Turning a Corner

I don't really remember when I learned that there was a craft / art called "bobbin Lace", but it was probably somewhere in the early seventies  when I acquired and devoured the thick tome The Complete Encyclopedia of Needlework by Th. de Dillmont .    Although fascinated by the lovely engravings in the encyclopedia, I never actually knew anyone who could do this amazing work.  I filed this away as something I might like to try later.
Madrid, Spain
Eventually a few inspirational moments spurred me on to learn.  The first was a visit to Nerja, in the south of Spain, where a chance drop in to the local senior's centre found an exhibit of lace made by a local group.  It was very well made, delicate, and impressive. On the same trip while exploring the streets of Madrid I happened on a merceria with a window display of bobbin lace, pillow, and bobbins.  It was night and the store was closed, but I beetled back there as soon as I could the next day.  After waiting in line and going up to the counter to order by number, I was totally mystified as to what I really needed to do the lace, so with some advice from the clerk I settled on some very pretty carved bobbins and some lace thread. In my crafting history the danger zone is when you can get the stuff needed...
After coming home from that trip I looked at the encyclopedia again, found another book, and actually made a couple bookmarks after a few failures.  But bobbin lace is challenging and I gave up further attempts.
My next trip was to France, but since the route was through Amsterdam I decided a trip to Bruges would be a good quest to find lace.  Bruges is magical, and after roaming around and seeing lace in all the tourist haunts, I finally got directions to the lace school, which was off the beaten track from the main centre of town.  I was lucky enough to be there on an afternoon when the skilled ladies came to demonstrate.  It was fascinating.  Many of the ladies were well into their 80's and older.  Their hands moved so fast you could barely see the bobbins.

The final hook was meeting a friend who does beautiful bobbin lace and offered to teach me. Although I have learned many needle arts from books, bobbin lace really requires a teacher, especially at the beginning.  So Cindy showed me some examples of the different types of lace, and we settled on a beginner Buck's point pattern.  With Cindy helping me at almost every step I was able to make a homely little bookmark, but by the end of that I at least understood the stitches.  After that I was hooked, and managed to find several books thanks to ABE books and the internet.
Here is a picture of my first piece of lace that I am happy with.  The tension is good, I was able to do the footside, and do three types of motifs.  After trying to learn more from books and Cindy's help, I eventually found an excellent set of self teaching progressive lessons for purchase at this website:
Lynx Lace
Following these lessons in detail really helped me understand all the moves better.  The next project literally showed me how to turn a corner!
Both of these used Lizbeth 40 crochet thread, and it works fairly well.

That's all for now, I will post my further projects when I learn how to do them.