Bobbins – General

Includes information about making and characteristics of timber bobbins, acrylic bobbins, spangling bobbins, (jewellery with spangling wire), square bobbins, bone bobbins, paper bobbins, aluminium and glass bobbins, plastic bobbins, hooked bobbins, beads, decals, suggestions for using and mending broken bobbins and bobbin history. Also gives reasons for choosing different bobbins for different laces and suggestions for beginners, and some tips on turning bobbins.

Finishing bobbins
He used shellac dissolved with a little metholated spirits, wiped it on the spinning bobbin, then polished with cloth and finger pressure. Can get quite hot on the fingers.

Could you ask him please what sort of shellac he uses?  (He’ll know what I mean as there are different sorts of shellac flakes –  I have some orange shellac flakes here that I use in my woodwork).

That Shellawax sounds more like a wax polish than French Polish.  I’ve got a bit of a thing about real French polish but these days one has to be careful with using the term especially with “restorers”.  I specified “French Polish” when I put in a chaise lounge and 2 ancient chairs in for repolishing.  When I got them back the mongrel who did them had moved to Qld and finished them with something that is like a thick clear lacquer.   When I hit the roof I was told that I should have specified “real” French Polish!!!!!

I have ordered Shellawax friction polish and it should arrive today. Too late for my first effort as I used Marveer and covered that with spray on Estapol High Gloss.

I will have to read the instructions for the Shellawax but I believe it is – tip a little on a fabric pad and then hold pad lightly against the turning bobbin, The lathe does all the ‘elbow grease’  work. I have some bone bobbins made by Queenslander – Gordon Scriven. He has told me I use shellawax on the bobbins I turn. It’s very easy to do on the lathe, you don’t want a great thick coat of anything. Make sure you use something not fluffy to put it on with. Also, the jacaranda – I haven’t used it, but have some jacaranda (=palisander) bobbins from one of the English makers. BTW, it’s best to use seasoned wood rather than fresh for turning unless you want interesting distorted effects, so your wood should be sealed on the end-grain and left to season at the rate of 1 year per inch thickness. So, it is worth sawing it down to smaller sections before sealing. Acrylic paint is OK for sealing. One of my choir friends said you can make them out of green wood if you soak the bobbins in linseed oil after making them, but I haven’t tried that. Linseed oil does tend to change the colour of the wood and I find it a bit sticky.

Also if you leave thread on the bobbins for any length of time it will be stained by the oil.

Oil is not a good thing to put on a bobbin.

My favourite pair of bobbin were made by Jill Collins, one of the most inventive people I have ever had the pleasure of knowing. She fashioned bobbins from bamboo and bread dried and baked as hard as wood. I was so impressed with her skill and ingenuity I requested a pair to be signed as a special keep sake for prosperity.

Acrylic Bobbins
There won’t be many like mine – at $3 a block for the acrylic, and only one bobbin per
block, they’re not exactly meant to be made in bulk.  But these are sooooo nice, and
just so lovely to feel, and just a nice weight. The black is solid, with the white swirls, but
the red is almost translucent, you can see the black dots disappearing into the bobbin.
Each of the four sides looks completely different. Must make a trip to Carbatech in
Canberra on my visit there, buy some more blanks and drop a few hints for a few more.
Turning acrylic is nasty, DH says.  It has to be done at a very slow speed I think, and
needs lots of cooling off periods.

Square bobbins

Shirley’s husband Max makes the most wonderful bobbins with square ‘handles’ which are designed so that they can be used with John Beswick’s bobbin winder – AND the ones I have can take 10 metres of Cotton Perle 12 per bobbin

Christine’s bobbins are the same idea, square handles, but more ornate – very swishy

My favourite bobbins are the square cut, international bobbins made in pear wood, with a separate short neck that accommodates a half hitch.  They can be found on the vansciver site.  My second favourite is the guatambu square cut, also with a separate short neck.  These I buy on the lacemaking site in the USA.  Very easy and pleasant to handle, and down the budget end of the market.

Tamara suffered the same problem as you with the round continentals and Neil’s “T-squares” were her solution.  She has moved on to specialise in designing in Milanese but her style of bobbins, made by Neil, have remained popular.

Bone bobbins
The bone is quite time consuming to prepare and if not prepared well the fat left in the bone discolours it.  He didn’t comment on any difficulty turning the bone but he did say that Oz cattle have a longer more curved leg bone than the shorter, sturdier English variety.  This makes it more difficult to get a straight piece of bone for a blank out of our cattle.  (blank – the piece he puts in his lathe to turn) Gordon charges $30.00 a pair for his bone bobbins and $18.00 for a black and white pair ie. a matching bone and ebony pair.

From what I’ve read, bone is more difficult to turn and Australian beef bone is not ideal – either from it’s size and density or it’s yellowish colour. I don’t know of any Australia bobbin makers that turn bone, though I’m sure someone will be able to correct me!

Buffalo horn will curve as you turn it as the heat of the friction rises. Don tells me
that it takes 3 goes to make each bobbin to allow cooling down to minimise the
curve. He only had enough for 4 pairs which he acquired when Toby Neve died
(some of you may remember him), so there will be no more.

Paper Bobbins
I’ve made a couple, they work OK, but it’s more a “fun” thing than a real bobbin.  They look best when made from gift wrapping paper. There’s someone in the USA who actually makes them to sell, complete with spangles.

Aluminium and glass bobbins
I’ve not seen any staining or marks on my threads when I’ve used the aluminium bobbin. My favourite bobbins have been made by Ron Law. I love the glass/pyrex but have not been game to use these.

My favourite bobbin is one I am too scared to use!  Just after I started lace making, DH got a second hand lathe – for metal work, he hates working with wood.  The first thing he made on the lathe was an aluminium bobbin.  It looks lovely but I am afraid that the aluminium  will stain the thread.

I’ve got quite a few aluminium bobbins which were made by Jim Tregellas – I’ve never had any trouble with them staining the thread at all. I’ve also got a couple of his brass ones, and while they do get that ‘dirty’ brass look if I don’t use them for a while, I find that a bit of a polish with a cloth before I wind them, and they’re as good as new.

For those interested in aluminium bobbins, Jim Tregellas has always used a special marine grade of aluminimum which is an alloy (for those without metallurgy – a mixture of metals) and unlike pure aluminium will not leave marks of any kind. This stuff is difficult to turn but worth the effort.  The bad reputation of aluminium comes from the use of pure aluminium to make knitting needles, crochet hooks, etc.  which are supplied paint-coated, but which ultimately wear through to expose the raw aluminium underneath.  This is why they mark fabrics.

Anodising will make and keep aluminium shiny and can be done in colours too. DH used to do his own anodising or it can be done commercially. It is a bit technical! I’ve never had aluminium bobbins but I’m surprised they don’t mark…. or go kind of powdery on the surface. After all, aluminium is a highly reactive metal. Now, gold bobbins would be a different matter!

I have about 60 aluminium bobbins. There is some tarnish/dark marks on some of them but I am putting it down to the fact we live in the semi tropics. The house is air conditioned most of the year so I wonder if it is humidity? Whatever the cause, it does not seem to extend to the thread but then again I never leave my lace on the pillow for any length of time and I would be much more fearful of the pins causing discoloration.

Bobbin History
There’s a book about bobbins in the NSW guild library – Huetson, T.L. 1973. Lace and Lace Bobbins: A History and Collector’s Guide. David & Charles, Newton Abbott, UK. I don’t remember much about myths in it but it had a lot about old bobbins. I also have a little book called “Pillow Lace and Bobbins” by Jeffery Hopewell – again no myths but a lot of pictures and some info. I don’t really want to send it away but would be happy to look things up. I’d be really interested to hear any myths, too!

Midland versus continental

From someone who is just starting out, what are the advantages and
disadvantages of both Continental and Spangled bobbins?

Also, some books say you should NEVER have your pillow on a slope, it should
ALWAYS be flat – others say the complete opposite.  Is there a correct way,
or is it a matter of preference?

I also use both midlands and continentals – depending on what I’m making. I also have some big chunky spangled bobbins (some thick Maltese which originally weren’t spangled, some big beginners, some very basic ones made from thick butchers skewers or thin dowel) which are ideal for thicker threads and wool – and at present being used on my linen scarf which features on Noelene’s website occasionally. (Must take another picture  – I’m just on half-way; moving onto the 4th foolscap sheet of pattern!)

I use continental and spangled bobbins, and enjoy using both.  If I’m working on a piece with lots of sewings, I tend to go for the continental bobbins.  However spangled bobbins do look lovely on the pillow, and besides there are so many beautiful beads just waiting to be bought!

And you can use the square ended bobbins for almost every type of lace.  You can crochet little holders for them to stop then moving or to stack them up by crocheting a chain in 8 ply wool, then working back along it with 1 tr into 1 ch, 1 ch, skip 1 ch, 1 tr. Into next ch, etc.

I learned to make lace in Denmark.  I use Scandanavian/Danish bobbins (as opposed to Continentals).  I learned to make lace palms down.  However, I learned to make lace using 2 bobbins in each hand rather than one.  The bobbins are manovered by gripping them in the spaces between the index- middle- and ring fingers up at the larger knuckle and then I sort of throw the bobbins around.  I have arthritis in my thumbs and cannot manage picking up midlands with my thumbs and forefingers – 10 minutes of lace with them and that’s it!

I learned to make lace on a roller pillow – even a hanky edging with corners.  I wasn’t going to take any pics of that poor pillow, but Helen if you are interested I am happy to take some pics of it and the type of bobbins I use (Neil Keats has told me he can supply them here in Australia and in a variety of different coloured timbers); and I can get hubby to take some photos of me working the bobbins.  The “apron” of the pillow has a *very* gradual slope and is nice and cushion-y to dig my knuckles into.

I have a mushroom pillow that I don’t use anymore as my bobbins roll all over the place (!) – and my pattern doesn’t sit very nicely.  I have a round flat cookie pillow that I only use for tape style lace & Christmas decorations on bangles (as my bobbins roll all over the place!). So I will probably end up selling that one sometime, but I don’t really want to as it was one of Annette Pollard’s.

I made a bolster pillow using the pattern in Pamela Nottinhham’s book. It took me a while to master my bobbins with that, but once I get going I speed up.

When I made my wedding veil, I used a large piece of foam and a smaller strip, to aid in “moving” the pattern up.  At the time I made my veil, I didn’t have the 360 bobbins that I needed, so I bought 100 “training” bobbins, and borrowed some more.  That’s how I know that I can’t use midlands.

Over the years my family have bought me prettily crafted midlands bobbins, my lace teacher at the time gave me a pair for my wedding.  They know/knew that I will never use them but they are pretty to look at and show to others.  John Pollard painted one of my Danish bobbins one Easter, so prettiness on the pillow can also be found in other ways than spangles.

I suppose the moral of my tale is don’t be afraid to try different things and make up your own mind.  Sometimes you will just have to wear the cost – but remember *everything* lacey is good for show and tell – there are seldom, if ever, any mistakes in lace purchases.

It looks like we all agree to a large extent. Which bobbins you use, depends on the lace you are working on and what you yourself prefer. I find that if you use continentals, you must have a flat pillow lying flat as well (unless you have, and know how to use a bolster). If you don’t have a flat pillow, lying flat, the bobbins will roll and that often results in loosing the twists out of the thread, causing it to break, and that constant rolling drives me bonkers!! You need umpteen divider pins to keep them under control.

The French square ended bobbins are great to use, and quite pretty as well, and so good for lace that requires a lot of sew in’s. They still tend to slide along somewhat even so.

Spangled bobbins are really good for all laces that do not have sew in’s, and they are so nice with all the pretty beads. And you can put stitch holders through the spangle and keep them out of the way without getting them tangled.

As for pillows, The problem with mushroom shaped pillows is that if you use it for a circular piece of lace, you often have to remove the pins from the beginning of the piece to get rid of the bubble in the pattern when nearing the end, and often the piece of lace will not lie flat when completed, though ironing it will often straighten it again.(thank goodness!) The pillow that causes this problem for me is a 60cm round horse hair filled pillow. Has anyone else had this problem with the shaped pillows?

I love the spangles on the midlands – very pretty .  However, not practical if you have a lot of sewings .I don’t like the continentals that are perfectly round in diameter – they roll all over the place – very annoying. However, if there are a lot of sewings in the pattern, I use my continentals with the square cut shank.  I particularly like the ones made of pear wood, although the ornate ones are easy to pick up, whether you are a beginner or someone with stubborn (arthritis) hands.

As with anything else, I learnt by making every mistake possible first!  And then working out “hmmm, didn’t like that, that didn’t work”.

Continental bobbins are great for tape lace or any other lace that requires sewings. You use a flat pillow and keep it flat, stops the bobbins from rolling around. I’ve never used a bolster pillow so can’t tell how that works. I’ve bought some bobbins that are squared and they do not roll.

Midland bobbins are fine for all other laces except honiton (they use special honiton bobbins with pointy ends). I use my mushroom type pillow all the time and often on a slope. The spangled bobbins fall and keep the tension very nicely. The dome on the pillow is not very high and hence the lace does not get distorted.

I use both flat and mushroomed pillows and I use all three types of bobbins, horses for courses.

If you are starting off get some square continentals (Neil Keats makes some and I think that Jo stocks some too). Use a flat pillow or make do with a couple of polystyrene blocks about 30cm by 30cm covered in wadding and fabric.

Helen it is a matter of preference. I use spangled bobbins for Torchon Beds
and Bucks lace but like to use continentals for the braid/tape laces because of their method of flicking the bobbins from right to left or left to right is helpful with the tensioning of the lace. I like to have my pillow flat for continental bobbins and on a slight slope for spangled bobbins. It is how you like to work your lace.

I use continental and spangled bobbins, and enjoy using both.  If I’m working on a piece with lots of sewings, I tend to go for the continental bobbins.  However spangled bobbins do look lovely on the pillow, and besides there are so many beautiful beads just waiting to be bought!

When I was just starting lace, I found that the cost of beads, along with bobbins and a pillow, was bit of a strain on the budget.  For that reason, it can be a good idea to begin with continentals, and then midlands and spangles can be added at a later date.

Whichever bobbins you use, enjoy your lace.

I can’t stand continentals either, but if you used a bolster pillow, as I think many Europeans do, then they would be easier to work with than Midlands.

I taught myself, and could not understand how anyone could work “palms up” until I saw Europeans do it with European bobbins.   I only know one person who works Midlands “Palms up” – a lacemaker in Canberra (Canberra Gumnuts will know who I mean).

If I was starting again, I’d go for all “Square Belgian style” bobbins.
But as I’ve already got a reasonable size collection of Midlands, I’ll just stick to enough squares to do tape lace with. No beads to get in the way of sewings.  And there’s no doubt in my mind that half the attraction of Midlands are their decorations and pretty beads.

I do tape lace on a flat pillow, sometimes just on a very slight slope, but I do Torchon or Bucks on a gentle slope – usually a cover cloth rolled up and propped under the far side of a flat 9 block pillow.   I seldom use my mushroom pillows, except when I do things like small motifs for Christmas.

I read somewhere that Honiton should be done on a flat pillow, but apart
from a tiny sample just to give it a try, I’ve never done any.  I did have a
roller pillow once, but the apron was so steep the thing used to give me
nightmares, and I sold it.

Plastic Bobbins
Hello to all who own a plastic bobbin or two……………….I went through a time of painting things on my bobbins and decided that the plastic ones would look so much better if they were prettied up a little.It was winter time! so what, you ask. Well the heater was on wasn’t it!!!!. When I had painted the bobbins I hooked then, head first, under the wire grill on the front if the gas heater to dry.It worked really well. Then my cousin dropped in (also a lace maker) and I forgot all about the bobbins. She had been with us about an hour and had looked at the heater once or twice and eventually said, Sorry, but I just have to ask. what are those things on your heater!!!!! Well, you should have seen my “used to be” bobbins!!!!!!! They has softened in the warmth of the heater and changed shape. Some looked like tiny telephones, others like bananas, yet others  looked like unmentionable items. We had so much fun trying to describe the newly shaped bobbins. All this is to back up the statement that you DO NOT leave plastic bobbins where they get too warm.They don’t like it!!!!

I also went through a time, early in my learning curve, where I was desperate to buy more bobbins.   I even made a couple of dozen out of one-eighth inch hardwood dowelling (from a place that sold the stuff used to make remote control model aircraft) and jug beads – just glued two beads (or was it one) on for the head, and several for the body.   And they worked fine.

Hooked Bobbins
There’s been a lot of talk about bobbins recently, but as far as I remember, no-one mentioned hook bobbins. I’ve got some, from different bobbinmakers, and I love them for gimps and metallic threads, as the hook prevent the thread from slipping all the time. I don’t think I would like to have only them for all the threads on my pillow, though. Does anyone else use them? What do you think of them?

I have tried them Helen, but did not like them one bit! I was fortunate though, there was one lady in my group who loved them so they did get a good home. Tiny hair grips keep my gimps from slipping.

I have them and call them gimp hooks as that is all I use them for.

Broken Bobbins
I keep the top and part of the neck of a broken bobbin, with a mark 1cm down from the head, inside my Threads for Lace book so that I can measure “how many wraps per cm” for any new thread to add to my book. And the handle, levelled off and with a fine hole drilled in it, can take a cut off crochet hook or a bent needle supa glued in.

A friend sent me a special bone bobbin. Unfortunately, it was broken on arrival. What is the best glue to mend it?

I have found “loctite” glue, available in Bunnings, absolutely fantastic for mending broken bobbins, ranging from wood to bone. I have even glued broken beads back together again with this stuff, not to mention most anything else that needs a little fixing up. If the break on the bobbin is a jagged one, all the better for gluing back together as it has more grip that way.

Making Bobbins
And now a bobbin question from DH. He is learning to make bobbins and is confused about all the different types of heads. What is everyone’s favourite shape? I have a few that don’t seem to work very well, but that might just be my inexperience. Anyway, they are very time consuming items to make and he wants to eliminate the trial-and-error step. Any suggestions?

Just one little irritation I find with bobbin heads – if the grove is too deep/sharp the thread catches – so perhaps something to avoid – particularly if using fine threads.

15+ years ago a lace maker approached me to make bobbins for her which the thread  wouldn’t slip off the head of.  She had found by trial that a bobbin I had made for her with a head cut square to the long neck would hold the thread even with a half hitch of the thread around the long neck.  Ever since then I have made bobbins with a head having two faces at right angles to the length of the long neck, the rest of the head can be any shape that takes your fancy, the thread holds on either face with a half hitch or a double hitch.  The only time the thread slips off is if the thread is wound on by hand and the twist added by hand winding the thread is added to the machine twist put in during manufacture.  In this case winding the thread onto the bobbin in the opposite direction will cure the problem.  Olwyn Scott of the Lace PLace in W.A. has an additional proviso, she recommends making the front face larger than the rear face.  If you want further clarification please contact me.
Neil Keats

In regards to bobbin heads … I like a distinctive “neck” on the head of my bobbin (that is the small neck on the top on the head not the main neck where you wind your thread) otherwise I get frustrated with the thread slipping off even when I have double hitched it! I have some bobbins which I don’t use unless I am really running low ‘cos they drive me potty (pottier!haha!) so basically I like the head off my bobbins to have a nice “tiny waist”!

I like Neil Keats’ double bullet heads best; John Pollard’s (thistle with a broad top bit) are excellent too. The important thing seems to be a nice sharp angle on the upper side of the indent, and the top bulge has to be at least as big as the bottom bulge, to stop the hitch from riding up and slipping off.  If the practicalities of wood-turning means you need to have a gentle slope on one side, make sure it’s on the lower side where the thread comes up from the neck. It has to be nice and smooth too, not a sharp groove, or it catches on the thread (and in bad cases the thread frays or breaks).  Some of my bobbins need some serious attention with a file and /or sandpaper!!!!

Neil Keats swears by his double-cone heads but I find them hard to make well. They need more skill than I have at the straight-in cut with the skew chisel. I try to make onion-shaped heads like David Springett’s (see his book and video, both in the NSW guild library). For using bobbins, I like an onion head with a good deep rounded groove between the bulb and the top, eg like John Pollard’s, Stuart Johnson’s. Peter Grantham who comes to NSW lace days was originally making bobbins with quite a long groove in the head, like a little neck about 4 mm long. I find them good to use, but someone told him the grooves were too long and he doesn’t make them like that any more. Malcolm Fielding makes beautiful bobbins, but in my hands, the thread tends to slip on the thistle-shaped head. I bought some bobbins from a beginning bobbin maker in England and they have a very shallow groove (kind of lamp-shade effect with a bit of a swelling at the top). They aren’t so good either. So, if your DH wants to make bobbins to sell, he will have to consult both function and fashion! If he’s just making them for you, then you call the shots.

If you have a John Pollard bobbin, use those dimensions. His bobbins have always worked for me. Neil Keats’ bobbins are also good and have a different shape. I personally don’t care about the shape, it has to work.

White Cypress Pine, Callitris glaucophylla, grows west of the Dividing Range on the plains.  Widely used in the building industry because the termites don’t eat it, it has an odour typical of the cypress species.  Turns easily but the wood has a tendency to split when being turned which is rather annoying.

I cut the green wood (privet) into 8mm. square blanks if the grain is straight or 10mm square if I think the wood will twist when drying.  I put the blanks in a wire tray on a shelf on a northern wall in the garage and they are dry in 6 weeks in summer.  Neil.

Try Privet, it’s very smooth.  Any privet branch/log 75 mm diameter or more in size can be used.   In fact any fine pored wood is good for bobbins.  I lacquer all my bobbins with Wattyl Stylwood diluted about 20% with their thinners applied with a #7 artist’s brush.  The surface of the lacquer flattens before it sets.  Further coats can be applied quickly.  I remove any prills with a quick rub with 3M white scourer pad, bought from the auto finish suppliers.  The finish is as smooth as the patina from 20 years worth of handling bare wood.

Try putting your left index finger under the bobbin near the neck to steady the bobbin when cutting the neck.  Don’t press hard on the bobbin, use just enough pressure to stop wobbles.  I turn at 3,500 rpm and haven’t burnt my finger yet after 20 years making bobbins.  I used some 600 grit paper today on the bobbins and was pleased with the polish achieved on the wood.

What wood were you using ?   Fine grained woods work best, e.g., Ebony, Tasmanian Native Olive, Huon Pine tends to be whippy and the finger has to be applied firmly <g>.
Neil Keats.

I think yesterday was pure luck!!!  I have never turned out so many in so short a time
before, and certainly never that thin!!  At the last Hobart State Day, one of the wood
turners told me to aim for a 6 mm handle (rod) then turn the shank down to 3 mm.
I have achieved the 6 mm consistently since, but usually chicken out at 4 – 4.5 mm
for the shank.  I make my shank just a little longer to compensate, and have been
happy with the results.  I spend a lot of time holding my breath at that!  Yesterday
was unique…and all without trying (although there were some major tense moments)

Decals and protecting decorated bobbins

Direct quote from packaging.
Testors (brand name)
Decal Paper
Papier de decalque
6 clear/transparentes

5.5″ x 8.5″ 139mm x 215.9 mm
For use with / Pour I’usage avec
Custom Decal System No. 9198

NOT cheap but you can fit a LOT of bobbin decals on a sheet 🙂

$19.50 per pack from Stanbridges (Perth)

I always put several coats of clear varnish on my painted bobbins, now, because 2 pictures flaked off very quickly after I started using them.  Sometimes, there is only one coat put on, and it’s definitely not enough when you’re handling the bobbins. Better be safe than sorry, they are rather expensive, after all!!

I usually put a thread in the spangling hole and hang the bobbin on my portable clotheshorse with a bow so I can undo the thread easily.  Several very thin coats are better than one or two thick ones, and a very light sanding with very fine sandpaper makes them look even better. I never varnish the neck, of course, just the part where the painting is.

I ended up putting a coat of varnish over all my decorated bobbins (those with inscriptions and paintings on them) to try and protect the “message” a bit longer.

Hanging Bobbins
From what I have heard, a hanging bobbin was worth around 200 pounds or more several years ago!!!! This is what I was told by my ex-teacher who owned an antique shop in England and sold antique bobbins among other things. She said that people had their names on a list and hoped to be next in line to buy it when  the “now” owner snuffed it.

Short Bobbins
I have a whole lot of travelling bobbins and they were bought as such and they are only about 3″ short. (Can’t call that “long” now, can I).  The reason for this is, that most travelling pillows are not overly big and would not be able to accommodate the longer bobbins. Square bobbins would not work because you cannot anchor them down too well (if at all) and they would drop when you close the pillow and the threads would then get tangled over the pins. I always place a tiny cover cloth over the work before closing the pillow, just in case!! I also use a tortoise shell knitting needle through the spangles to stop them from dropping down, and that needle is held in place by threading it through 2 tiny loops sewn onto the pillow, so the can not drop too far.

I use the short bobbins on my travelling pillow, as I have two “sets” -about 3 dozen polished aluminiums, now sadly no longer available, and about 2 dozen wood turned by DH before his back gave in.  I’m using the aluminiums on a small block pillow to do my Length of Kortelahti Lace at the moment. And I used the woodens and the leftover aluminiums to do the bookmark I’ve just finished and put on the website.

But I think that a set of plain thin ordinary Midlands with minimal spangles will do just as well on a travel pillow if you’re looking at setting one up.

I don’t find the shorter length awkward to work with, but when I use ordinary length bobbins on the travel pillow, the apron on the pillow seems large enough to take them comfortably, and I only have a smallish number of bobbins anyway on anything worked on that pillow.

The one thing I couldn’t bear would be to mix ordinary Midlands and travelling length Midlands on the one pillow – now that would drive me crazy!

Bobbins for Wire Lace
I made a lot too, from dowel and a variety of similar-sized twigs from the garden.  Used the smallest size screw-in eyelet at the top prised open just a little to slip the wire in, and screwed in at right-angles to the dowel; stops them rolling around. A hole through the middle to fasten the end of the wire. The best thickness is about that of a pencil, and around 5-8cm long.

I found some old large continentals and had dh put a small cup hook or ring through the head and a little hole in the shank.