Moving Up Bobbin Lace

Moving up by repinning, large patterns, felting and felt and other types of pads.

Moving up
You need to get all the bobbins wand wrap them in a cloth so there is NO tension on any of the pins. Then remove all the pins except for about 4 rows. These you lift off the pillow but keep them in the lace itself. Now with one hand lift the cloth containing the bobbins and with the other move the lace and pins to their new position. Gently put the cloth with bobbins down and very carefully put the pins back into the correct part of the pattern (if you are moving the pattern up as well you can leave the pins in the pattern and just lift them off the pillow. Once the pins are secure in the pattern and pillow, unwrap the bobbins and go for it.

This is the way I was taught as well – leaving the pins in the pricking and turn your pillow so that you are at the back of it.  When you move things “up” you’re actually pulling pattern/bobbins package towards you, much easier than trying to push uphill.  I usually secure the bobbins in the folded cover cloth as has been mentioned with *no* tension on them whatsoever.

On a trip to Spain in 2002, I stood and looked in total horror at a Spanish Lacemaker moved her work up her pillow.  The lady in question left 4 rows of pins holding her work and wrapped her bobbins up in her cloth, then pulled both the pattern, lace and pins out in one move (at this stage we both gasped) and simple slammed the pricking in the pillow further up.  She re-adjusted some of the pins and preceded to smooth out the cloth and kept working, the whole process taking just a few minutes and our jaws just about touching the ground.  I have to admit the thread was quite thick, but I still can not bring myself to try it.

My recent tape lace mat is only about 30 cm in diameter, Jay, so it too fitted well on my 50 cm square pillow.  But I’ve now asked DH to cut me an octagonal slab of blue builders board 50 cm across so that the corners don’t get in the way.  Meantime, my rooster went on a rectangular board 50 cm wide by 75 cm long.  Never again   It’s too big.  All are lightweight foam with a thin ply backing, and thus very easy to keep constantly moving.  You wouldn’t want to make tape lace on a sawdust pillow!

The words of wisdom in Bridget Cook’s book is
“Although many of the patterns are too large for the average size pillow, this problem can be easily overcome.  All that is necessary is for the lace to be worked as far as possible on the pillow and then for the lace to be moved on to the next section.  There are only a few bobbins in use and relatively few pins will need to be replaced.  The whole operation is thus quite simple”.
(From Russian Lace Making by Bridget M Cook  She makes no mention of this in the Russian Lace Patterns book).

I made myself one of the fan-shaped pillows with moveable blocks once, but found it more nuisance than help.  OK for an edge, I guess, but not for a mat.   I was doing a wide edge on it, it didn’t fit properly, and I had to repin several times.   Never used the thing since.  And for tape lace, it would be an awkward shape to keep turning anyway.

And my LARGE Russian lady I did a couple of years ago (how did I manage, I now know I knew nothing about the techniques of tape lace then) was done on a whole jigsaw of bits of pillows, including the one above (50x75cm), and three slabs about a metre long and  about 20 cm wide (which I had made up to make my woollen scarf).   And I continually unpinned and repinned.  It was all set up on a special table.  (For those who haven’t seen it, the wretched thing is about a metre and a half long)

Barbara, Margaret, did Nadine say anything about how those great large mats of tape lace were made?  Some of those would definitely not have fitted on just one pillow and still be within arm’s reach of the work in progress.  I still would love to see some pictures if anyone took some of the sample tape lace mats she had with her.

I wish I’d asked her that myself, since I’m also struggling with a piece which is too big for my pillow. Next time I’ll definitely work in sections and repin as required – beats having the bobbins fall over the edge!! I’ll ask Vicki if she knows. Someone at one of our workshops (Sandy from Orange perhaps?) was working a big piece which she’d drawn onto what looked like vylene (that interlining stuff), wished I’d taken more notice, but I was half dead with flu and not functioning very well. She was clearly repinning as the pricking was much bigger than the pillow.

To make a flat piece, get some merino clean carded and fluffy, stack it in handfuls in a square shape, in layers going across then up and down, over some calico that has a long enough tail to fold over the top of it, splash it with the soapy water so it’s damp, not wet, fold over the tail of calico to cover it, drop the whole thing onto the waiting bamboo runner or blind, roll up and roll back and forth gently, for long enough to sing a nursery rhyme. You don’t need much hand pressure, just make sure you move up and down the whole way, or some parts won’t felt as well. Check for holes and add more until you get up to the thickness you need. Lift it off the calico every so often or the felt will attach to it permanently. It uses a lot of wool, so don’t skimp. You can do this with silk waste, wool, some other fibres, and can throws bits of thread and yarn in for different effects. Fine felting felted onto silk fabric is gorgeous. One day I will try embroidering over it.

Find your local motor trimmer or upholstery firm.  They use a very heavy felt about 1/2 inch thick which is marvellous for pillows.  I got a couple of long strips about 7″ wide that I made small roller pillows from – very good!!

The stuff I find the very best is actually made of coconut fibre and can
sometimes be found in shops selling carpet. But it is NOT easy to get hold
of. On the other hand, once you have a piece, it will last a life time.

The pad I have made is larger than my whole pricking, so I just lifted the whole thing off the pillow, and plonked it down on the smaller pillow.  It overhangs into my lap a bit, but that will improve as I work further down the lace. I move the whole pad up, not just the area where I am working. My bobbins are hanging over the side a bit on this smaller pillow, but as I am working down both sides of a long triangle, they will be coming towards the centre, and then will come together nearer the end.

I found using a pad more trouble than it was worth for me, personally.   It was just something else to contend with.  If faced with an unavoidable move (and I usually try to plan ahead and avoid them), I do the “take a deep breath and dive in” method – I tie all my bobbins together in batches with shoelaces (new ones, of course – I don’t think my sneaker shoelaces would qualify) I bundle up all my bobbins in a covercoth and pin it, like a baby’s nappy (does anyone still safety pin cloth nappies these days?). I push the bundle up the pillow until there is no tension on the thread whatsoever. I remove ALL the pins and carefully life the worked lace and bundle of bobbins aside, taking care never to put tension on the threads. I repin the pricking, and lift the worked lace and bobbins back into place.
I spend a quiet 10 minutes or so repinning a reasonable section of lace – the depth depends on the type of thread and lace. The whole routine needs good light, and a reasonable expectation of not being interrupted. One or two of the last row of stitches may have to be redone, but once you’ve done the exercise once, it is not so scary the next time

I often use a pad Liz – it works very well.  My favourite is made of three layers of scotchbrite pads arranged to overlap each other, covered in cotton fabric.  Why
scotchbrite pads?  They clean the pins beautifully and seem to keep them sharper, though this may be my imagination.  Needless to say this is not my idea.
Estrella Munoz thought it up years ago.

I to use a pad as described by Kathy and it works very well. I have a large one mens hanky size and a small one …school ruler size, which is very handy when lifting the lace work up the cushion. I work the lace onto the pad and then lift. Sounds easy but tensioning can be a problem as the pins only go into the pad a few millimeters. On several occasions I could see where I had lifted the work after taking it off the cushion.

I am trying the method of working on a pad, and then to move up you just pull it off the pillow and plonk it down again further up, and continue. DH had some ?ethafoam stuff – something like the divers wear, but not quite the same, and I cut a piece larger than my pattern, and it holds the pins well.  They just go through to the pillow I think – or some of them do, so it should ‘rip off’ and move up without any hassle. As it is long – the lace will be 15 inches long when finished, – it hangs over into my lap at the moment, but that will improve as I go along, and move it up more. If it works OK, then I will see if he has any more “large hankie” size, so I can use that for square laces!

I just wanted to say that you can still buy real carpet underlay in Melbourne. Somebody at the Vic Branch knows a carpet place who sells it. It’s about 10mm thick, and I’ve just used some for my latest block pillow, the one we had a workshop for earlier in the year.

About pads to move your lace, I was taught to make one with layers of (thin) felt, the kind you buy in Spotlight. You just cut your layers shorter and shorter and build up a sort of pyramid that goes up very thick in the middle on 3-4 cms. Then you stitch the whole thing to keep them together, and to use it, you put it under your pricking before you reach the place you want to lift, and work your way gradually up the slope to the thickest part, which is supposed to be thick enough to take the pins fully without going into the pillow. Once you’ve got that part of your lace all pinned down, you can then lift the whole lace and shift it higher, and then you make your way down the downslope of the pad until you’re back fully on your pillow. Then you take the pad away. Because the slope is gradual, it doesn’t distort the work. Of course, you’ve got to remember to put it under the pricking in time.

Old fashioned carpet underlay.   I still have just a little bit of it left, put aside for another block pillow.  But that’s the last of it, and its unprocurable today.    It’s REAL felt

I have a piece of foamy stuff – not sure what it is , but it is something like wet-suit fabric, (though slightly different), and I have just covered it with a dark cotton and I lay it over my pillow, and pin the pricking to it.  It is about ½ cm thick.

As I have to move the lace up – the pins have gone into the pad, and just the tips of the pins are in the pillow underneath, so I can just rip the pad off the pillow, and re-position it where I want it, and the lace stays firmly on the pricking!

You could make a pad with anything – layers of dressing gown wool fabric jumps to mind, or layers of windcheater fabric, would work – anything, really, but make it about ½ cm thick, so the pins stay firmly in ti, and Just go through to the pillow for more firmness.  Then you can lift the pad to move up, or change pillows or whatever!

Julie with a 6″ pricking on an 18″ pillow you should not have to move it at all.  Make sure you centre it on the pillow, and aklthough the outer bobbins might be a bit near the edge of the pillow, I think it should be OK.

I am now hooked on having a pad under the pricking, so I can easily rip it off the pillow and re-position it easily. I must see if DH has any more of the stuff in the garage for me to cut up in different shapes.  Only thing is it is only about 14 inches wide at the Most (I may have used the widest piece already!).  But I can see that a big square – for doing handkie edges would be!

Moving up is my second most detested feature of bobbin lace, after finishing off all the ends. I try to avoid it completely by using a nine block pillow (home made,
I have a couple of them now, various sizes).   Plus an extra two half blocks, because corners always, always seem to come at a break in the blocks, no matter how I try to plan ahead.  So I can replace one of the blocks with the two half blocks where necessary. And if I have to move up, I find a quiet period of time with no interruptions, have a cup of coffee, take a very deep breath, bundle up all the bobbins with shoelaces and wrap in a bundle with the working cloth, take out ALL the pins, move the whole lot, and replace the pins.   I’ve never had any luck with the felt pad, I tried it several times, and found I did more damage to my lace that way, and it took longer.  You just have to be very, very careful never to let any tension develop between the bundle of bobbins and the worked lace.

The deep round edge in my section of Bobbin Lace on the website required several moves – I had made myself a fan pillow, with moveable blocks, but I had not thought it out properly first, and it wasn’t much help in avoiding moves.   I think that was the piece that really had me convinced that it was quicker and
easier to take out the pins and move the lot.

But it still doesn’t solve the problem of passives gathering up – for me, it was the passives in the footside of any Bucks Point I did.   I ended up marking them with glass headed pins, just above where I was working, as a reminder not to pull on them at all.

When I have to move up lace, I use the “pad underneath” method. I made myself a pad just larger than the pricking, with felt scraps, then stitched another one slightly smaller into the middle of it, then another one smaller, etc – about 4 layers, so it is humpy in the centre, but across the width, too.  Then I put this under the end of the pattern, and butt the next part of the pattern to it, so the join is over the middle of the hump. Then I work over it, till I have pins on the new pattern, and I can then lift off the old part, and move the new pattern up the pillow, with all the pins sitting into the felt pad, so there is no need to remove all the pins.

I have also used a new chux wipe, folded so it has most of it in the centre, to hold the pins, but the sides slope down to sit flush on the pillow.  It is much easier, but you need to have 2 pieces of pattern, then you can leap-frog them over each other  – providing they match perfectly!! I make one long piece (like half a handkie edging), and cut it in two, so I have one quarter on the pillow at any time, and the next ¼ fits exactly.

Your circle sounds lovely, but making a square or rectangle doesn’t mean that you need to move the lace up 4 times. What you do is you make a pricking with 2 corners, and then you cut it (carefully so you don’t cut out any hole!!), so one of them can be fitted under your lace when you reach the bottom of the first one, and so on…

The only thing is, you have to count properly if you’re doing a rectangle, so you end up with the same number of repeats on each side :-). I had to change the dimensions of one of mine after having turned the 3rd corner and found that my first and third sides had a different number of repeats 🙂 Fortunately, the 3rd side had more than the first, so all I had to do was add an extra one after the 4th corner instead of finishing at the corner….

As far as I’m concerned, making a longer pricking is a lot better than moving my
work up!!!