Bedfordshire lace including method of working, characteristic features, floral beds notes and cucumber footside notes.

Bedfordshire Lace

I was taught to make beds wrong side up, how do you get rid of the threads if it is right side up? Do you just sew them in?”

You have to pull the knots through to the wrong side, and then finish them off.

In the old days when they made collars etc, they often started one end, and worked around ¾ of the way, then started at the other end, and worked towards where they left off, and did the join there.  Sometimes they unpinned the work, turned it over to the wrong side, and then joined it up after repinning it.  I made a collar this way – starting at both ends, so I did not have nasty finishing at the point of the collar – the bit you look at!  I think I joined it up right side up, and pulled the knots through to the wrong side. (too lazy to do all the pinning after turning it over)

Beds is usually worked Right side up – but I don’t think it really matters.  If you are doing raised tallies, then having them up on the right side is easier, as you can see better what you are doing – ie getting them all the same size!

My first piece with raised tallies I did wrong side up, and had to make the tally and then work over it.  I got them all different sizes, though!  After that I heard that it should have been made right side up!  Personally, I don’t think it really matters that much – unless the Thought Police are around!

Right way up or working on the back, I don’t think it matters too much either except when, as you just said Liz, you have rolled tallies, then it helps because you can see what you are doing. Bed is a very neat lace and sometimes you can only tell it is upside down by the mounting.  I had not heard of working a collar from the outsides to the centre, what a good idea!!

The join in the Beds on the collar was approx at the shoulder seam. – I figured that was the part least noticed!  The typical ends of Beds collars are extended ends – and are larger, showy bits – and the centre back also, so the shoulder part , besides being less noticeable, is also often narrower – which helps when sewing in ends!

I find the technique diagrams useful to check my translation (but I’m still trying to work out why they draw a spider and call it a wheat-ear -“grain d’orge”! )

In Beds lace – barleycorns are tallies with square ends, coming one pr from each of 2 pin holes. A wheatear, is a pointed tally – 2 prs coming from one pin hole – Or can be a True wheatear – one pr from 2 pin holes, and then meet at a pin, and then the tally – so the tally has Whiskers!

Many of the Old Beds laces have barleycorns – the square-ended tallies.  That was the common way.

Not wheat-ear, Lisa, but barley-ear, because they have long barbs that look like spiders with multiple legs.  Perhaps there were no spiders in old French lacemakers houses….(VBG)    A lot of the names for lace stitches are quite different in French and English, and you really need to have learnt in French to know what they are talking about, if you don’t have a dictionary, even if you do speak French!

Floral Beds is like that – an enormous number of bobbins being added – enough to give you the horrors, sometimes, but then gradually, they disappear, (are taken out), and sanity returns, with just a few prs to end off.

The theory is that at the end there will be very few “live” bobbins left to finish off. Jenny, I trust you on this!!!! (Unless I’m seriously mistook, actually, it should be just the inner and outer trails – about 9 pairs all up).

Oh yes, you can trust Jenny – I did her gumleaf beds bookmark from the same group as the waratah piece.  .As I kept adding pairs forever I didn’t believe that I’d have so few left at the bottom and when I got to the bottom I only had a very small handful of bobbins to finish off into the tassel.

All the Cecil Higgins Museum lace is a Floral Beds. They are all (I think) designed by Thomas Lester, and are known as Lester Lace.  Lester (2 generations) Sargeant, Allen (?), and another, whose name escapes me at the moment, worked on the “False Honiton” after seeing Honiton Lace at the 1851 Great Exhibition.  The lacemakers in the East Midlands were “continuous Lace” makers, not the Sectional lace of the Devon area, so they designed the lace to look like the Honiton lace, but it was made continuously so their workers, who mainly made Bucks Point type laces, could work them.

One ground is a plaited ground.  There are some variations of the plaited ground, – but there are plaited “legs” that are used in tape lace, too.

When doing the cucumber foot – just remember to take you worker from the same side each time, so that the centre passive crossed to the other side the same way each time.  This will give your lace a better look – the light catches the tallies, and will be consistent, so will give your lace a more even look.

If you take the worker from the left side, then leave it , at the end of the tally, on the right side, the centre passive will cross from top right, to bottom left.

If you take the worker from the right side, then finish it off on the left, and the centre passive will go from top left, to bottom right.  Either was is OK – just be consistent.