Thursday, 17 October 2013

Bobbin lace!

I’ve taken up bobbin lace weaving again! While this is a hobby I love, my last class finished when I was at a very tricky starting point (the pace of the classes is individual, so the bad timing was totally my own fault). So I figured I’d wait until next semester, I anyway had lots of stuff I wanted to sew. Then there was too few participants… for four semesters in a row! (and there’s 2 semesters/year in this school). I could have removed the new, tricky pattern and just worked on a pattern I knew, but I got out of the habit… 

Oh, and btw, did you notice I now know the correct term for this craft?! In Swedish it’s called “knyppling”, but apparently the English term is “bobbin lace”, since it’s made from wrapping yarn/thread around a “bobbin” and then moving the bobbins around (no resemblance what so ever to a bobbin that goes into a sewing machine). They look like this:

In Swedish we just call it a “stick”. Not very inventive… ; ) However, these can look very different depending on where in the world you’re weaving. Just take a look at this video, which will also give you an idea of how the lace is made:

Wish I had that speed and control over the bobbins! Maybe if I practice very hard for the next 40 years or so... =)

I’ve also seen this type of lace refered to as “pillow lace”, since it’s woven on a pillow. Personally I think it gets a bit confusing as the pillow used is called “a lace pillow”.
“So, what’s your hobby?” “I make pillow lace on a lace pillow.” Really??? =)

Anyway, this is a fun, meditative craft. No sudden progress, no smash and dash-glamour, certainly no “I’ll just make a shortcut here, no-one will know” cause here anyone looking at the finished lace will know. Sure, small mistakes can be hidden from an amateurs eyes, but there’s no covering up big mistakes or turning misguided shortcuts into design features. Then what’s the thrill? It’s seeing the lace take shape, inch by slow inch. It’s crossing, twisting, crossing, twisting, place a needle, and do the whole thing all over. Relaxed, calm and focused.

When I sew I have music on, I like chatting with people, my mind tend to wander to all sorts of interesting topics and daydreams. Hemming and the like is best done in front of the TV. But for weaving lace I need total silence. No talking, no music. No daydreaming of sewing a blouse to attach the finished lace to. I usually make a cup of tea, I usually don’t finish it. It stands half-full, forgotten as I’m lost in total concentration of moving the bobbins over the pillow. Why on earth haven’t I’ve done this in TWO YEARS?! Well, the class has finally started, I’m back on track and this time I’ll keep the skill alive.

For a little bit of fun, here’s a video from the 40s about Swedish laceweaving. It’s a lot of panorama over landscapes and so on, and if that’s not your cup of tea, I’d suggest skipping ahed to 2.20 and then 8.2o in the video.

Here, you’ll also see another geographic style-difference: the hand-placement. In some of the videos I found they hold the bobbins very differently from how I was taught (using thumbs). The way they handle the bobbins in this old clip is how I've been taught.

Anyone else who’s weaving bobbin lace?
Love, Erika


Lady D said...

I saw bobbin lace on a program a few years back. The results look so pretty. How long does it take you to make an inch of lace?
I don't think I'd have the patience.

Erika said...

Had I been weaving with a purpose and a deadline, then it would have frayed my patience, but as I'm weaving mainly just 'cause it's fun to weave, then it's really just relaxing.
How fast it goes of course depends on a lot of factors; the width and complexity of the lace, the size of the yarn, the skill and experience of the weaver. The lace I'm currently working on is about an inch wide, and I'd guess I weave about 1 cm/hour. But then I'm out of habit and has just started this lace so I'm reading directions and so on. I think that with just a few months pratice I'd be up to 1"/hour.
Still, it's a slow work.

Anthea said...

This is so cool! Unfortunately they removed bobbin lace from my sewing course a couple of years ago.

In Dutch they call it 'kantklossen'

Last summer I was on a lace hunt for a blouse I'm planning to make. I was able to find some vintage bobbin lace and I'm totally in love with it!

Sarah said...

Oh wow! I seen this being done at a craft show, it looks so complicated, but so lovely, I don't think I would have the patience to do it but at the same time I would love to have a little go!
Can't wait to see more of what you make.

joellestlaurent said...

omg, how on earth do you know what to do with all those bobbins?!? it is truly fascinating. making lace!! do you follow a pattern? how does it look like? i can see how you find it meditative...

Jessica Cangiano said...

That is such a beautiful, classic art to have as a hobby/passion. I can honestly say, though I've known a few fan of tatting over the years, you're the first friend I've encountered who was doing bobbin lace making. You are a girl of many awesome talents, my dear Erika!

♥ Jessica

Anonymous said...

I haven't seen this in ages! My aunts used to do this when I was a little girl. I always looked at their work in admiration with al those bobbins moving around. I never got to try it myself though as my mother never was that much into craft and there were no supplies available to me.

We call it "kantklossen" in my country, an aggregation of the words "kant" (lace) and "klossen" (the ones you refer to as bobbins).

Erika said...

Thank you all so much for your kind comments! It's wonderful to hear from others who also appreciates this old craft!

zzam said...

Thanks for the videos!! I must place the cushion on the balcony next summer!

It doesn't seem very common these days, sadly. On the other hand, I think it's partly to do with the cushion; you can't snuggle up with it in front of the tv in a dim light, and you don't get to bring it on the bus to work. But still, it's a fun thing to do.