Humility is a Virtue…

64 Arts

…that I just don’t have a whole lot of, most days.

Oh, don’t get me wrong, I know there’s more I don’t know than I do and that I’m nowhere near the mistress of all I see and think, it’s just that I’m so danged used to having everything* I try come easily to me, being able to comprehend a lot of the fiddly bits, that admitting defeat or surrender does not come easily or readily to my aid.

The “virtue” I have that makes up f0r that? Stubbornness.

And stubbornness paid off quite handsomely as I took another look stab at bobbin lace. This time from a slightly more humble position, and with a bit of craftiness on my side.

I went back to the super-beginner patterns on Jo Edkins’ fabulous website and printed out the charts for the cloth stitch and net samples. Then promptly enlarged them from their 3mm between pins start to my workable 3/8-inch between pins finish.

Enlarged patterns for practice bobbin lace

The original patterns are too small to see!

Then I raided the party supplies, again, for bobbins; this time winding them with 3 different colors of sock yarn and loading them up in pairs on the first pattern.

Pattern, pins, bobbins and yarn for cloth stitch (bobbin lace)

Party picks make excellent bobbins, hands down!

In less than an hour I had completed about 4 1/2 inches of cloth stitch “lace.” I consider this more of a weaving pattern, really, though I do see it’s application on lace edges and filling of larger, solid spaces in more complicated patterns.

Finished section of cloth-stitch bobbin lace, still on pins


Fresh off that success I set up the net sample, this time alternating my colors a bit, just to see what it ended up as.

Bobbin lace set-up for a net ground with 6 sets of bobbins

Pardon the knots at the top, I was trying to avoid re-wrapping all those bobbins and wasting so much yarn (it worked fine, btw)

Again, maybe an hour later I had about 5 1/2 inches of net “ground” (space-filler, as I understand it) and the pairs of green sock yarn against the lighter pink and yellow sets made a great double helix-style pattern among the back and forth of the pattern.

Length of net stitch bobbin lace still on pins

That's a LOT of pins, my friend

Close up view of end of net lace peeking through the forest of pins

I promise, there's lace in there!

What’s relatively frustrating about this little exercise was that I understood the basic stitch movements before starting the crown lace–what? 2 weeks ago?–but it just wasn’t fitting into my head right. I’m still not 100% ready to tackle the crown lace yet (it’s still set up on it’s towel and hanging out in the Abyss, waiting for it’s turn and my bravado), but I do think these two starter laces showed me that I *can* do bobbin lace, and that was the point of trying, right?

Cloth stitch bobbin lace over net stitch bobbin lace

My finished pretties

Now that I’ve had some time to play with the cloth stitch I think I have a project in mind for it! (A wedding project, of course.) I’m going to need a considerable length of cord that is usually a braided sort, but I think it could be very nice if I take the 3 colors I was planning to use in the braided cord and made a single width of cloth stitch bobbin lace. It would certainly serve the same purpose (and it’s much easier than my inkle loom, is, I think).

Okay! Next week I have one more type of lace I want to give a go and then we will move on, I promise!

*except golf; apparently I have no aptitude for golf whatsoever

Into Every Lace, a Knot Must Snarl

64 Arts

Well, I may have just gotten in a wee bit over my head with this latest bit of lace I’m attempting. I even debated trying to whip up a different project (if I could in 1 evening) just to have something more substantial to show, but that would be a wee bit deceptive, and that’s not the point of this exercise.

It’s about new skills, and they don’t always come easy.

The first time I saw bobbin lace was years ago at a book fair (of all things). The artist had her pillow set up with all these pins in it, threads and bobbins seemingly everywhere but she was creating this amazing lace with so much detail.

(All of this being pre-blog and no camera permanently attached to my face–seriously, where is that cybernetic implant?!)

So when I hit the lacemaking art, I was super-jazzed about having the push it gave me to actually try out bobbin lace for myself.

And I thought the toughest part was going to be finding the parts and pieces I needed without spending a fortune!

Because, really, how hard could the rest of it be?

And now we’re back to the in over my head-ness of it all.

The supplies turned out to be surprisingly simple to cobble together:

  • I used a folded towel for my “pillow”,
  • I had plenty of pins and thread already in my stash,
  • and I downloaded a free pattern from Jo Edkins’ Lace School.

That same website had not only the best instructions I’ve found online but also a great tip that a reader had sent in about using pencils as bobbins–and I had plenty of those around the office–but I wasn’t sure about how long they were and keeping them from rolling around on the pillow.

Then I was wandering through Hobby Lobby–as you do–I spied these great party picks that I thought would do just great and, yeah, they look right.

In fact, if you look at my set-up, you’d think I knew what I was doing:

A good start to bobbin lace, but that's all

And, yeah, the set-up instructions all made great sense. And after a couple of false starts I managed to set up the foundation row that joined all the individual loops hanging on the starter pins.

But after that I got stuck.

I understand how to do the different stitches (again, great instructions from Jo Edkins, including little animated bits for the visual learners among us), just not how to get from point A to point B (or, rather, pin A to pin B). It probably doesn’t help that I’ve picked a simple-but-not-starter pattern to try and learn with, but I’ll soldier on and give it a bit more study and I’m sure whatever I’m not getting will click sooner or later.

Hopefully by next week!

When’s the last time you found a project that really challenged you?
Did you see it through or change gears?