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[SCA] I just got the COOLEST email

Note: I added my answers to her questions

Dear Ms. Carey,

Thank you for teaching me how to make bobbin lace at the Maryland Sheep and Wool Fair. I have several questions for you.

When I got home I took out my lace making pillow (the one which I said had had its wool felt cover eaten by moths - the pillow had some strong coarse linen underneath and is still very useable). Later the next day, I actually found the bobbins I have bought in Bruge or France somewhere, probably close to 20 years ago. I also unearthed my books (7: 2 are large pattern books I bought with the pillow in Bruge in 1985 (!), 1 a history book, 3 beginner books and 1 that is a thin little thing and part of a series on lace making with patterns and some instruction). However, none explained bobbin lace making so simply as you did, nor had a pattern or pricking for the simple lace you let me learn the techniques on.

Here are my questions:

Question #1: Do you think it might be possible for you to scan and send me a copy of the pricking you let me work on?

I'm not sure about scanning the pricking, but if you would send me your address I'd be happy to drop a copy in the mail to you along with some other patterns that I give out for my classes.

Question #2: I was able to get some lace-making pins from Joannes - but neither Joanne's nor Michael's carry lace-making supplies anymore. They stopped about 2-3 years ago, I was told. Do you have a particular internet site or shop where you buy your suppliest that you might recommend?

There are several good sites for purchasing lacemaking supplies on the web. Here are some I have dealt with http://lacysusan.com/ - this is where I get the bobbins that were on my pillow (they are Rosewood Bauyex). I am not sure if she has an actual storefront, but she's located in Dumfries, VA and I've always had rapid service from her.

The bobbins that were on the pillow you used probably came from http://www.lacemaking.com/LacemakingCircle.htm While we borrowed that demonstrater pillow from another lacemaker, I have bought the same bobbins from this site when teaching classes for the SCA.

There is a lace supplier that deals with the SCA on a regular basis, coming to one of our biggest events. Her website is http://www.lacemakerusa.com/ - but I've only bought from them at events so don't know how their mailorder service is.

Finally Van Sciver (http://www.vansciverbobbinlace.com/index.html) has a good reputation in the lacemaking community although again I've only bought from her at events.

As I say there are several others that you can find by googling, but
these are the ones I've had personal expereince with.

Question #3: Could you advise me on the best thread(s) to use? Obviously, the fatter the thread, the grosser (a la francaise) the work. If you could indicate what size DMC would be best to do that lace I was working on, I would appreciate it no end.

I'm probably not a good person to answer this question since my favorite lace thread is size #50 mercinized cotton which I buy in large spools from the Walmart sewing department. This weekend I was working with linen thread but I don't remember what size. Most books will recommend the thread that they would like you to use for their patterns. The lace you worked on had Pearl Cotton (from DMC) but I'm not sure what size. I would guess it was one of the sizes they sell by the hank instead of the ball.

Question #4: How much thread should one wind onto the pairs of bobbins (I did learn that from the books - that they are made in pairs)? Does it matter?

Once again this depends on the project that you are working with. For my sample pieces I tend to wind a yard onto each bobbin. However when I'm working on a larger project I tend to wind the bobbins with 3 or 4 yards. Eventually I plan to make yardage for a dress and I will be winding the bobbins with as much thread as they will hold.

Question #5: How does one add more thread when the thread from a bobbin in use runs out?

When you notice your bobbin is about to run out of thread you need to add another bobbin into the pattern. To do this tie the new bobbin thread to a pin and place the pin beside your pattern a couple of inches above where you are currently working. Start working with the new bobbin as a pair with the bobbin that is running out of thread. Make lace for a small while (maybe half an inch or so?) and then stop using the bobbin that you are replacing. When you've worked to the point that you've removed the pins from that section of the lace go back and snip the extra thread as close to the lace as possible. I usually wait and snip the threads when I've finished the project unless I'm doing a long piece. This technique is also what you do if you break a thread.

Question #6: Also, I was looking for the chapter of your group that covers Falls Church in Virginia.

Here is the link for the Chesapeake Region Lace Guild's study groups. http://www.crlg.org/study-groups.html

While I have never attended any of their events the Lace Guild would probably be the best way for you to find lacer's in Falls Church. It looks like there are study groups both in Arlington and Fairfax. You might have to contact the webmistress at lacemaker@verizon.net to get contact information for the individual study group organizers though.

Another lace resource is the International Old Lacers website (http://www.internationaloldlacers.org/index.html). However it looks like they don't have any lists listed for Virginia other than the Cesapeake Region Lace Guild. I also don't see a list of teachers on the site.

Finally, as a general resource I recommend looking at http://www.lacefairy.com/ - which is an excellent website for all things bobbin lace. A specific page on the site that will probably be valueable to you is http://lace.lacefairy.com/BeginGuide.html

Thanks again for letting me learn bobbin lace. And I thank you in advance for your responses to the assistance I am requesting.


Thank you so much for all this information. It is a great resource.
where and when do you give classes? What are the costs?
You make lace-making painless - something I have been looking for
for a long time!

and my response
Thank you for the compliment! In the past I have taught classes through the SCA. A few times a year we have an event that is a day of classes and I sometimes teach a 2 hour beginner's class. But other than that I don't teach formal classes, I'm more of a one on one
teacher and I've never taught lace professionally.

Edited 2: Some pictures from the event</b>


( 16 comments — Leave a comment )
May. 6th, 2008 06:38 pm (UTC)

You got her -- hook, line and sinker (or should it be pin, thread and bobbin?)

I don't need to add lace to my To Do list until after HRH Alethea's reign is over (this time next year) as I am already over-extended. One of these days, however... Hopefully before AS50!
May. 6th, 2008 06:51 pm (UTC)
So I should put our lace lesson on the Pennsic schedule for NEXT year, not this one? ;)
May. 6th, 2008 06:57 pm (UTC)
Sure -- pencil it in. Subject to the whims of Fate I should be good by then.
May. 6th, 2008 07:17 pm (UTC)
Big thumbs up!!! I think the two of you made each other's day!!
May. 6th, 2008 07:33 pm (UTC)
Wow - It must feel so good to know that you have really hooked someone so soundly! Nice job!

I see that your post is friends locked, but I wonder if I might be able to convince you to post your info on suppliers on the A&S 50 list, as there are a number of folks there who are interested in learning about lace making, and I know they'd find this information very valuable.
May. 6th, 2008 07:37 pm (UTC)
Tell you what, I'll post the whole post there. I have it friends locked since I have a lot of Non SCA friends on my list.
May. 6th, 2008 07:48 pm (UTC)
Even better! I'm sure lots of folks would like to hear about the really positive experience you had with this woman! Thanks!
May. 6th, 2008 11:34 pm (UTC)
Way to go Orla! I'm adding this post to my memories, as all the info is totally fab and once life falls into a pattern again I'm going to be coming back to this. You're one of my lace heroes, hope you don't mind.
May. 7th, 2008 01:36 am (UTC)
Do I mind? not a bit - I'm honored that you'd want to be able to find the post again. I love that I can provide some inspiration - even though there are LOTS of people who know WAY more than me.
May. 7th, 2008 01:24 am (UTC)
What a wonderful letter. It's great that someone took the time to let you know how much they learned from you.

I have been wondering, when is the next time you will be teaching the beginner's class?
May. 7th, 2008 01:29 am (UTC)
You don't need to wait for a class - we just need to figure out a time where we can get together for a couple of hours.
May. 9th, 2008 01:10 am (UTC)
Oh very cool. Do you think we can plan something for the end of June? I should be able to drive on weekends by then.

Also when is your party again? Henry was asking and I can't seem to remember.
May. 9th, 2008 11:02 am (UTC)
June is TOAST for me. But I have July 19th weekend free except for Pennsic Panic. We might want to look at either during Pennsic or after at this point.
May. 7th, 2008 09:08 pm (UTC)
Nice! And such beautiful pictures! I read the note on the A&S 50 list but I'm so glad I saw it again so I could see the lovely pictures!
Jan. 29th, 2009 05:15 pm (UTC)
Broken threads
I use a weaver's knot for broken threads, especially when there is only a little bit of broken thread left. Make a slip knot with the new thread, with long part being the slip. Put the broken end in to the loop of the slip knot. Pull the ends of the slip knot. It pulls into a little knot that wont come undone. After you have worked past it, you can trim the ends right at the knot.
Jan. 29th, 2009 05:28 pm (UTC)
Re: Broken threads
Oh! Good idea. Thanks :) I'll try it sometime
( 16 comments — Leave a comment )


Orlaith Carey

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