Bobbin lace can be incredibly beautiful, but it's equally intimidating. Tiny threads, specialized materials and patterns that just look like grids and dots are fairly unwelcoming, and clear documentation can be hard to find.
I created this pattern to be a bit more contemporary, influenced by op-art. It only uses one stitch and it's meant to be reasonable as a first lace making project. It's based on a huge amount of research, primarily wading through blurry scans of old books and pamphlets. I've also found work-arounds for the expensive specialized tools so that you can try it out before investing in hundreds of dollars worth of bobbins.
Bobbin lace is basically an elaborate braid and/or weaving pattern worked around carefully placed pins to form holes. I tried to make the process very clear, but the most important thing is that whatever you do, you do it consistently through the whole piece of lace.
When hand lace-making was a major industry it was common for girls to start going to a lace-making school at about 5 years old and focusing completely on lace until graduating at about 16 years old after making a "senior project" of sorts that included about 1000 bobbins. Don't feel bad if it takes an afternoon or two to catch on...
Step 1: Supplies and Equipment
For this piece I used:
- #30 cotton crochet thread
- cork tiles
- lots and lots of straight pins (I would try to have at least 200 ready to use)
- 24 clothes pins
- paper pattern
In proper lace making the cork would be replaced with a special pillow for pinning into, and the clothes pins would be replaced with bobbins. It would also all be on a slope to use gravity to assist with your tension.
Especially for a first try it's nice to have bobbins that can't roll and to work flat so gravity doesn't get involved. Bobbins are going for around $10 each on etsy right now and this uses 24. The pack of clothes pins I used was $2.