Learning Bobbin Lace--Plaited Lace Lesson 3

  Free Bobbin Lace Lesson

  © Lorelei Halley 2012 


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I give instructions here, assuming that you have worked through lesson 1 and through the Cloth Strip Lesson (Three Basic Stitches).  Only new things are explained here.  The new things in this lesson are

  • 1. how to connect a 2 pair braid/plait with a single pair (the footside weaver),
  • 2.  how to decide where to hang on so that ending the lace can be done as neatly as possible, and
  • 3. how to sew the end of the lace to the beginning with a crochet hook.


Pattern is from Handleiding voor Vrouwelijke Handwerken #11 (Instructions for Women's Handwork), A. W. Sijthoff, Leiden,    the file is hw11.pdf .
Find it at
This is in the 1st part of the list, with no authors listed.

I designed the corner.

I enlarged the pattern to 125% and used a 60/2 weaving linen and Moravia linen 40/2.  Cordonnet crochet cotton #60 or Bockens linen 50/2 would also fit that size. 
The original should should work with #80 tatting cotton.

I recommend using a flat or cookie pillow for this.  It doesn't matter whether you set up with the headside on the right or the left.  Most of my diagrams show the headside on the right.  It will be easier to follow the diagrams if you do the same.

how to hang on This pattern requires 8 pairs of bobbins, wound in pairs.  
    On the red pin, hang 4 pairs as at left.

Wrap the right hand bobbins around a temporary pin to immobilize them, until you have enough length of braid completed.
Hang the weaver pair on the purple pin.  The footside requires 3 passive pairs.  If you hang them on a horizontal pin supported by 2 other pins, it will be easier to sew out at the end of the lace.  
hanging on a horizontal pin When deciding where to hang on and start the lace, the most important factor is to choose a place which will allow you to hide the knots and ending tails behind something solid, like cloth stitch, or behind the foot.

Sometimes this means that you will work backwards or take unusual directions when you reach the end.  More about that later.

Lesson 1 explains how to make a braid/plait, windmill join, and knotted picots.  The lesson on basic stitches explains how to make the narrow footside in double stitch.  What is new in this pattern is how to connect the braid to the footside, and how to sew out at the end of the lace.
There are 2 primary ways to connect a braid with the weaver from the footside.  The 1st version, below, is most common in Cluny and continental laces.  The 2nd method is most common in Bedfordshire laces.

Cluny method

Method 1
 You have 3 pairs which must be involved in the connection. Treat each pair as if it were a single thread. 
If the braid is on the right,
work cross pin twist cross, always moving an outside pair first.   
If the braid is on the left, you still
do cross pin twist cross,
but start by moving the central pair

Bedfordshire method
Method 2
This method simply involves cloth stitching the footside weaver through the 2 pairs from the braid, set the pin, twist the weaver once or twice (depending on whether you want a visible hole or not), cloth stitch the weaver back through them. Resume the normal foot, and the normal braid.
Method 2a
In this diagram each line is a single thread.  This method treats each of the 2 braid pairs as if it were a single thread.  Cross 1 weaver thread over the nearest braid pair, then twist the 2 braid pairs over their respective weaver pairs, then cross, set the pin.  Close the pin in the same manner.  This method works well when you have a lot of threads packed into a space that is a little too small.


  When you reach the corner there are some odd movements.  I didn't work all 4 corners the same, because I could see more than one solution.  I'm showing both because I couldn't decide which I like better. 
For this one take the footside weaver from g to h normally.  At h the 2 braid pairs make a normal braid to k, but I used the footside weaver and the rightmost footside passive to make a braid from h to m.  At m I made a windmill crossing.  The 2 rightmost pairs resumed the normal braid after m.  The 2 footside pairs split up, and one of them became the footside weaver and goes from m to f.  Because the distance between g and f is so short, don't put any twists on the leftmost footside passive.
I worked this corner differently.  After h the 2 braid pairs make the normal braid from h to k.  But I worked the footside weaver through the rightmost footside passive, then did CTTC with the footside weaver and the central footside passive.  Then the weaver changed direction and went back towards m.
The blue rings show where the CTTC is worked.


  When you get around to the end, you will have to attach the final braids to some part already finished by doing sewings.  When the lace is on the scale of this piece, a crochet hook is the best tool for this.  Lacemakers who specialize in very fine scale laces use other tools.  Remove the pin from the loop where you will make the sewing.    Insert the hook into the appropriate loop, and pull up a loop of one of the threads from the pair that need to be sewn there.  Put the tail of the other bobbin through the loop.  Gently but firmly pull the bobbins apart to remove all the slack.  Reset the pin.
In the diagram at left the red lines show where the beginning of your lace is.  The red lines are the first part of the lace that you made.  4 pairs were hung on C, the weaver was hung on D and you have 3 loops from the footside passives, laying in between E and D. 

Work the footside as normal until you reach the line e to d.  Stop with the weaver at d.  Stop the blue braid at a, and stop the green braid at b. 

As you are nearing the finish, when you reach A and B, you are going to change the direction that the braids take.  Bobbin lace is made with the wrong side facing the lacemaker because the endings always leave little lumps of knots, which are unsightly.  Endings are always unsightly.  So we try to hide them as well as possible.  In this piece I think the best place to hide them is behind the footside. 

So instead of having the blue braid go from a to c, and the green braid from b to c, we are going to change direction.  If we ended at C you would have 8 bobbins threads to hide at C, which is virtually impossible. 

So, instead, the blue braid will end at A and will be hooked into the weaver loop at A.

First sew the blue braid into the weaver loop at A.  Insert the hook into the loop, grab a thread from the pair you are sewing, and pull up a loop.  Put the green dot bobbin through the loop.  Gently but firmly pull the two bobbins apart to remove the slack.  Reset the pin. 

Lay the bobbins aside, but don't knot them yet.  It is best to save the knotting for last, when all the sewings are completed.  You can undo a sewing, but a knot is final.
Many lacemakers regard a single sewing, as described already, is sufficient to sew a braid.  A more secure way is to make a double sewing.  Instead of just pulling up one thread, pull up the 2 nearest simultaneously.  Then put the other 2 bobbins through the loop.  Try to keep the braid flat and smooth while doing this.  Gently pull the pairs apart to remove the slack.
sewing around a braid Then the green braid will go from b to c, where you hook it around the starting braid at c.  Then braid it from c to a, and sew/hook these 2 pairs also into a.
When you hung on at the beginning you put 3 pairs on a horizontal pin.  The reason is that this leaves visible loops for you to sew into at the end. 

Every footside passive must be sewn into its own beginning loop.  The the weaver should be sewn into the weaver's beginning loop.

 Insert the hook into a beginning loop.
Pull up one thread from the pair you are sewing.  Then put the other bobbin of that pair through the loop.  Snug up to remove all the slack and reset the pin.
Knot the pairs, but only after all the sewings are completed, and after you have check to be sure every pair is sewn into its proper place.
Sew the footside weaver into d.

Check everything carefully to be sure all the pairs are sewn into something.  Then knot each pair 2 times.
wrong side
Then take each 2 pairs and make a flat braid about 3/4 inch long.  Take a pair from each braid and sew it to a footside pinhole near its end.  Then knot that pair 2 times.  Then cut off all the bobbins short at the braid end.  The braids won't unravel, even if the lace is sewn to a handkerchief and machine washed.

With the red piece, I just made a bundle of threads, and took 1 thread from the bundle and sewed it onto alternating pinholes.  This may be a better solution.

Another method is to weave the ends in using a crochet hook.
You now know enough to work the patterns at right. See Basic A    and Basic B   and    Square3 
From Mincoff & Mariage pages 182 and 183.

Also see      Look for: 

Mincoff, Elizabeth and Margaret S. Marriage. Pillow Lace: A Practical Hand-Book, E. P. Dutton, 1907, 290 pages.


For full list of free bobbin lace patterns, see     free patterns  

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Posted March 18, 2012.   Revised May 26. 2012.