When it comes to bobbin lace patterns, what is it that matters at the end?
You need to know what you are doing, how to start a lace, how to end it and how to make passages from one part to another. All this makes lace making effortless. When incorporated with the usability you won the battle. Of course, there are so many more factors to take in the count, but those three are the main ones.
I always appreciated a constructive approach to lace making, without too many starts and ends. You know you have a good bobbin lace pattern when you can make it with ease and looks complex. Unfortunately, there are too many people overlooking the importance of construction. Only well-constructed items will survive in the time and withstand the maintenance abuse. Here we have to mention another strong influence that contributes to a result. That is a thread and its properties, which vary on the thread fibre composition and some other things. We will touch the subject on another occasion. In this post, we will focus on constructing a bobbin lace pattern and what we need to account for in construction itself.
Let’s get right on to the first question. Do you know what you are doing? Did you research the techniques you are going to apply? Do you believe you don’t need a change in your work? Think again.
When it comes to the question, do you know what you are doing, it seems like pointless. Unfortunately, that is not quite like that, especially when you come to the point of the turn, pass, actually in bobbin lace making there are so many things to figure out even before starting. In bobbin lace making you find yourself in traps that could be avoidable only if you would think first and then make a workflow plan. My, honest opinion is, we don’t dedicate enough time and education to practical solutions. Let me show you an example of my unplanned work. I deliberately just went for it and did it. No planning, no thinking in advance just going with the flow of the design.
There were times I witnessed plans made by women who disregarded everything said above, they only looked at the aesthetics of the lace. I tried my best to make the lace look presentable, in my opinion, it was useless. The process of lace making, in that case, came out as a pain-inflicting process. Not worth the time and engagement. My conclusion is aesthetics has to go hand in hand with construction and bobbin lace technique making requirements. And again my examples of semi-failure, what looks good on a picture (pattern) will not necessarily look good in lace.
In today’s works, I’m noticing two different lines of lace making. One is regressing in knowledge and skills, and the other is a form of imitating a machine lace. My lovelies are you a machine? As I thought you are not, so, please accept that and go your own way. No shade here, just acceptance of who you are and try to do your best. Here I will show you one of my learning curves, oh the torture I went through. But if I wouldn’t, I wouldn’t know what the structure is in a lace. (Please disregard that I was using two different threads for this practice.)
What porpoise of use are you perusing?
Perhaps this sounds a bit weird question, but in reality is not. Can you imagine making an appliqué for something in style of napkin or window insert? Those things, I’m not equitable, creations look so weird and not worthy of your time and dedication to make them. We need to acknowledge that what looks good on the table will not be a surplus around my neck, for instance. My apologies to everyone, who might be insulted by this claim. Unfortunately, it is not that far-fetched at all. We live in the time of internet where everything is at the tips of our fingers; all we have to do is reach for it. Don’t you think it’s time to raise our standards too?
Probably I was a bit too harsh here, but in reality, the purpose of lace is closely correlated, with the design. And when we include this mindset in our pattern making process we found ourselves on the right path to the finish.
Wear and tear factor
This topic is a bit on a sensitive side. Nonetheless, we need to address it. Wear and tear is a two-sided coin and in my opinion only half depends on the design – pattern, the other half is a tread issue, as said we will address this question in a separate post.
You need to know up front, what is the purpose of your work? Is it going to be handled a lot with hands on a daily basis? When this is the case, you need to account for it in your pattern. Loose parts need to be surrounded with stronger (denser) sections to hold the structure. This kind of philosophy occurs to be handy when we start to account for maintenance. When we touch the subject of tear due to excessive rubbing through the daily use, the damage could be limited to the minimum. Smart planning when making the pattern is essential here.
My biggest inspiration here is a 16th-century lace that managed to survive till today. Let’s face it lace from that period sometimes looks rough and unsophisticated in comparison to nowadays and yet it survived. It is torn in multiple places and still holds the water. With stepping back and looking at the primitive design from the perspective discussed above you all of a sudden see this was not primitivism but usability, followed by the aesthetics, not at its best, this is true, but on the other hand we have to understand there was an evolution of trade in a continuity of time in between.
Maybe it’s just me, but I find this question essential in lace making. Somehow I have a feeling not enough attention is devoted to the topic.
Now this question is not entirely connected to the quality of the pattern. It is mostly related to the lace user. And yet a lot of damage could be avoided with a right mindset at the pattern making.
We need to be aware that cleaning is a necessity nowadays. How will your work survive more or less professional handling? Will it be possible to restore it to somewhat original state easily? Or is a professional approach required? Now, this last question is kind of tricky. Imagine having someone without knowledge and respect for handmade things, will this person be willing to invest time and labour to do things right? The answer is almost 100% not.
In my life, I met my share of hurt people who gifted someone with their hard labour and the gifted one ruined everything in a heartbeat. I understand both sides. The question is how can we avoid this kind of unfortunate encounters. Well, the answer is in a paragraph above, functionality before aesthetics. Yes, your work will not be the most sophisticated piece, but it will be functional for the vast majority. And when it comes to designing that kind of peace, you can trick the eye with some slick design grips. And for the eager adventurers, use the right colour combination that will add some va-va-voom.
When we draw a line under maintenance and pattern quality, there is one main thought to avoid liabilities at all costs. With the use of lace every day, you become aware of possible dangers lurking at you. It is so easy to catch on things and subsequently start wear and tear.
How will I survive?
This last paragraph is devoted to strange encounters I had over the years. The subject is somewhat the same as the paragraph above, just one step closer to a horror story. I’m quite sure I’m not the only one. What I would like to say here is meeting people who have a brilliant idea of cutting up my work. All the explanations for how this is not a good idea doesn’t work. How do you deal with that?
Sometimes you don’t know in advance, and you find out later. When you see it with your own eyes, well I can’t describe the feeling. But for sure I can say it’s devastating, you need quite some time before being able to do anything else. The question, how will I survive, sure comes to its place in this instance.
I’m genuinely curious, how do you deal with that kind of situations? What do you say in that kind of situation? Do you hate that person? Can you even look at them? What kind of action do you take?
When it comes to me, I stopped working on larger projects. I know, this sounds like giving up. On the other hand, all these questions and experiences brought me to thinking and looking from a different perspective and a completely different mindset. Without these experiences, I would most probably be happy making tablecloths and window inserts. Then again how many do you need?
So there we have it, no pain no gain. I know this theme is a bit different from an average lace maker, but then again why would I not share my path of growth with the world? Perhaps, just perhaps someone will read these thoughts and usefully implement them in their work? When it comes to me, I do my best not to fall into a group of regressing lace makers. Even with small projects, I do my best to implement at least some complex skills and knowledge. You know its funny how these skills all of a sudden make your work easier.
That’s it for today. I wish you all a successful lace making. I would like to encourage anyone who is thinking of pattern making to start working on that. It won’t be perfect for the first time, but eventually, you’ll make it to the finish line.
Till next time.