Bobbin lace making with two pairs, what can you learn from it?

Why should you dedicate more time to two pairs?

As some of you know. I’m trying for quite some time to rediscover the beginnings, the starting points, in learning of bobbin lace making. The goal of the quest was to find the answer to a, seemingly, simple question. Why is it so hard to make tallies? Why don’t we develop skills to make them at the beginning of lace making journey? Why are we so anxious to make this big loop in learning?

It looks to me like no one tells you that you need to develop skillfulness in your hands first to be able to work effortlessly later. Maybe I overheard that, but for sure I don’t remember anyone telling me to take it slow and be methodical on my learning path.

Sure enough, the half stitch looks better than any two pair technique, and spiders are mesmerising. The problem occurs when going back to two pairs and you become aware of a black hole in your knowledge and skills.

Therefore, going back to the roots is always a good idea!

Going back to the roots, what do I mean by that?

Going back means going to the beginnings of the learning process. We all start with two pairs. The origins of lace are rather simple too. So why not going back and rediscover the works of two pairs?

We have this subconscious belief that this is not lace. In other words, it’s not lacy enough for us sophisticated people of 21 century. It’s not what we envision as lace.

The saddest thing is that our own beliefs and convictions are keeping us from developing the skills we need to be good at making what we love. In our case, this is bobbin lace making, but we can expand these findings to everything else in our lives.

What I discovered until now, my path has not come to an end yet, is that working with only two pairs is way more complicated than one would think. And also there is no wonder we don’t know how to use our hands properly in hand lace making. No one managed to tell us we need to invest time and effort into our basics.

Looking at old fashion bobbin lace

When we look at, for example, 16th-century bobbin lace patterns. On the paper, they look so plain, straightforward. But when you look at the lace made out of that pattern. You all of a sudden realize there is no plainness and at the end, only the best designs survived centuries.

When you relax and let go of your prejudices, you notice that simple things do not necessary look uninteresting, or basic. When trying to recreate becomes obvious that simple is not always simple work. You need to think hard to make it work. You need to be innovative to find solutions.

And once you go through a couple of things like that, you start to look at bobbin lace making from a different perspective. You start seeing how things could be turned your way as a maker, without compromising the outcome. Everything somehow becomes less stressful. The workflow becomes smoother and easy to follow.

To sum up the two pair journey

I took December as my walk through the kingdom of bobbin lace snowflakes with only two pairs. Intentionally starting simple, with just the chain. It was stressful on giving up the prejudice I wanted to make something spectacular right at the beginning. It took me time to convince myself to take it slow.

I started doing Christmas ornaments with only the cord. Then I slowly added the bling factor, and the results were astonishing. As I slowly started adding a new technique with every new version, ornaments started looking more interesting and intricate.

On this quest, I noticed a tremendous improvement in managing different pattern requirements, although all of my patterns were extremely basic. I was able to make decisions on the go to implement strategies and techniques as I was working along. Don’t get me wrong, planning is essential, and you need to be meticulous for things to look good.

By the end of December, I noticed an increase in adaptation to different pattern requirements. I would say when you put enough time and effort into something your thinking becomes flexible, almost like an elastic.

Also when going to other projects, you notice you look at things differently. You start to approach to lace making from your own, innovative perspective, which enables you to be unique and your own in the end product. Little things count more than one would think.

Looking from the perspective of developing skills in hands, I have no words.  In the end, I had no problems what so ever to make snowflakes with ease, no stress, no gadgets to help. The only thing I would like to say don’t go to lunch in the middle of making a lief tally or try to answer the phone.

All it took was a month of short and simple projects. Each made in one afternoon, that’s all that it was needed. The only downside to this experiment is that I made to many patterns, and haven’t managed to make even a half of the ones I made. For each one of them, there are at least three to five outcomes in my head and if someone else would make those patterns completely different lace ornaments would come out.

To recap all this writing.
  • Don’t go past two pairs too fast, when starting.
  • Take your time, explore and gain some hand skills you will need later on.
  • Be relaxed when planning how to get through the pattern.
  • Choose short projects in which you will gain consistency and perseverance.
  • And above all have fun and enjoy your projects. Make them custom to your needs and your lifestyle.

Till next time,

Have fun, be creative and enjoy your crafting.

Sabina