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July 1, 2011 17:14 - Celtic Knot Bobbin Lace

In the 16th century, the Italians braided passements by weaving linen threads wrapped with silver and gold and sometimes colored silk threads.


1568 Christina of Denmark
in a passement gown courtesy Wikipedia

As this evolved into bobbin lace, the tools and materials were inexpensive and easier to learn than the popular cutwork. All across Europe, women and girls learned to weave the lace in charity schools, almshouses, and convents. They could make more money making bobbin lace than by spinning, weaving, or sewing.

This 1664 painting by Caspar Netscher shows a woman working bobbin lace.


Working Bobbin Lace, a 1664 Caspar Netscher painting courtesy Wikipedia

Lengths of linen thread were wound on to bobbins , then braided or twisted into intricate patterns. The braiding was held in place with pins on a cookie pillow. The patterns were either pricked on the pillow or a pattern was laid down on the pillow, making the design easy to follow.

Two examples of bobbin lace making using cookie pillows in progress


Bobbin Lace Worked on a Cookie Pillow courtesy Wikipedia


Ursuline Lace being worked on a cookie pillow courtesy Wikipedia

By the 17th century, lace guilds had formed across Europe while Flanders and Normandy replaced Italy as the premier bobbin lace production source. The laces ran the gamut from coarse to fine with the threads made of linen, silk, cotton, and mixes with precious metals.

This photo shows women in Schlettau, Germany, working bobbin lace in 1936.


Ladies working Bobbin Lace in Schlettau Germany, 1936 courtesy Wikipedia

Though the lace is not identified, this portrait of a young Queen Victoria displays beautiful lace.


Young Queen Victoria by Winterhalter courtesy Wikipedia

The major types of bobbin lace are ~

  • Honiton, a very fine English lace worked in strips displaying many flowers from East Devon. When Queen Victoria planned her wedding ensemble, she strongly believed she should promote and support industries within England. Her silk satin gown featured Honiton lace on the gown flounce and sleeves and veil, as seen in these photos.


    Queen Victoria in Honiton Bobblin Lace Wedding Gown courtesy Wikipedia


    Queen Victoria’s Honiton Bobbin Lace Wedding Gown
    courtesy National Geographic


    Sleeve Detail Queen Victoria’s Honiton Lace Wedding Gown
    courtesy National Geographic

    Two more examples of Honiton Bobbin Lace


    Honiton Lace collar courtesy Lace Fairy


    Honiton Lace wedding flounce courtesy Lace Fairy

  • Torchon, a lace with beautiful geometric grounds.


    Torchon Bobbin Lace courtesy Lace Fairy

  • Cluny, a light and delicate lace with flowers, braids, and picots.


    Cluny Bobbin Lace courtesy Tussah

  • Bedsfordshire, better known as Beds, a lace of flowing lines and picots


    Beds Lace courtesy Lace Fairy

  • Bucks Point, or Buckinghamshire, lace from the East Midlands is very lacy with an hexagonal ground and a heavier gimp thread to emphasize the pattern. Also called English Lille for it’s similarity to French Lille lace. Similar to Mechlin and Chantilly lace and braided in a full width.


    Bucks Point Lace courtesy Lace Fairy

    By 1698, one fourth of the population, or 30,000 people, in Buckinghamshire worked making lace. Children were taught lace making beginning at the age of five and by the time they were twelve years old were supporting themselves making lace.

  • Mechlin, a fine transparent Flemish lace with finely twisted and plaited floral patterns on an hexagonal ground with the designs outlined for emphasis.


    Mechlin Bobbin Lace courtesy Lace Fairy


    Mechlin Bobbin Lace courtesy Wikipedia

  • Valenciennes, an 18th century French lace on a net-like ground.


    Valenciennes Bobbin Lace courtesy Wikipedia


    Valenciennes Bobbin Lace courtesy Wikipedia

  • Blonde, a continuous bobbin lace related to Bucks Point lace.


    Blonde Lace courtesy Lace Fairy

    An 1830 portrait of Adelaide Amelia Louisa Theresa Caroline of Saxe Coburg Meiningen in a gown with Blonde lace details.


    Adelaide Amelia Louisa Theresa Caroline of Saxe Coburg Meiningen
    1830 portrait courtesy Wikipedia

At Meta Café you can view a video of bobbin lace making and see how fast the work can progress.

Can you imagine making your own lace for your wedding gown?

You Tube lists 254 videos from around the world in the Netherlands, Belgium, Sri Lanka, the US, the Philippines, Japan, Puerto Rico, Croatia, and Spain. Topics include how to make a cookie pillow to work on, drafting patterns, setting up the bobbins, tools and materials, how to begin weaving, and a selection of patterns. Plus a few entries on making bobbin lace Christmas ornaments.

The Lace Fairy lists photographs of over 100 bobbin lace patterns.

Jo Edkins has an online Jo Edkins Bobbin Lace School.

But even more exciting for anyone planning a Scottish theme wedding, she has a selection of Celtic Knot Bobbin Lace designs, one of which is displayed below.


Celtic Knot Bobbin Lace courtesy Jo Edkins

If you’ve plenty of lead time and an interest in needlecrafts, this could be a very unique way to display your talents and your Scottish roots. And you could carry the whole idea one step further by making the Christmas ornaments found on You Tube or Celtic Knot bookmarks.

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