Hooked on Needles

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Benedictine Bobbin Lace

The Benedictine Sisters I had the pleasure of visiting while on my trip to Kansas City recently and whom I mentioned in my previous post, besides making priestly vestments and stunning embroidery, also make lace to use as trim for their handmade items.

The method they use is called Bobbin Lace which I have tried with very little success. I think it is the kind of thing that needs to be passed directly from person to person, and not learned from a book or a kit.

Bobbin LaceHere is the finished part of a piece that was still attached to the pillow and being worked on. It is only about a half inch wide and very delicate. This piece is made with size 100 cotton, which is just about as fine as sewing thread.

Bobbin Lace Gossip TableThis is the pillow where four people can be working on lace at the same time. Only two rolls were being used at the time this picture was taken. You can see hanging towards the outside of this big round pillow lots of wooden bobbins with thread wound around them. This is the working thread that is being used to make the lace. The round rolls, like little neck roll pillows, have the pattern attached to them and the thread is moved back and forth with the bobbins to create the lace to match the pattern, then pins are inserted to hold the threads in place. The whole process is very tedious and intricate, but people who master the art can manipulate those bobbins seemingly without effort, and very quickly too.

This big round pillow is also called a gossip table, and you can just imagine how it got that name. Of course in this Benedictine Priory where this particular table is being used, I can pretty much guarantee no gossip happens around this bobbin lace pillow since these Sisters maintain silence throughout most of the day.

Here is my attempt at bobbin lace. It is a sample of three different background patterns and the whole piece is only about an inch wide. It took me a long time and gave me a headache and cramped hands and an aching back. I am sure if I had someone actually sit down with me and show me how to do it, I could have mastered this beautiful method of lace making. But I think I'll just have to settle for knowing that the art is not completely dead thanks to the patient and creative Sisters in Kansas City!

If you are interested in learning the art of bobbin lace making yourself, Lacis carries a beginner kit which you can find by clicking HERE. They also carry many patterns, books and supplies for the art of lace making and other forms of needlework too.

Happy Stitching!

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  • Very interesting MG! Never seen this lace making kind of craft! That gossip table is very cool... What an experience for you I am sure! Good for you! 8-)

    By Blogger Myra, At May 21, 2009 at 11:30 AM  

  • we have a pork and apple festival here every year and there is always a group of women doing bobbin lace...it is absolutely fascinating! and yes, i believe it is best when it is passed down from generation to generation! ☺

    By Blogger Purple and Paisley, At May 21, 2009 at 1:26 PM  

  • Mary Grace,
    I have really enjoyed reading about this lace project made by the sisters...so much History and so interesting...I think I'll just stick to my size 10 crochet thread...LOL! I would love to watch it sometime though...thanks for sharing!
    God Bless You,
    Merry :)

    By Anonymous Merry, At May 23, 2009 at 11:03 PM  

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