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Bobbin lace - Starting lace

Click here for how to wind the bobbins.

There are various shapes to the start of lace. Below are the two simplest shapes. Once you understand these, you should be able to deal with more complicated forms.

Start line of bobbin lace

On the left, there is a horizontal start, with 2 or 3 pairs at each starting pin. On the right, there is a diagonal start, with one pair at each pin, and 2 at the top. All my patterns tell you how many bobbins at each starting pin, but click here to find out how this is worked out, if you are interested.

Horizontal start

Horizontal start

It is easy to hang two pairs of bobbins on one pin, but there can be a problem. In the diagram above, the second pair is on top of the first pair. Once we take the pin out, there is nothing to stop the two loops separating. This is slightly unattractive as a start to your lace.

Horizontal start

If you twist a bobbin from each pair round each other, then they are connected, and they will not separate. You will need to twist twice, to get the pairs back together.

Diagonal start

The other, diagonal, start looks easier as you mostly have one pair per pin. But here there is a different problem. You hang the pair from the pin, and then, almost immediately, have to use the same pinhole to make a stitch. Pins tend to go in the middle of a stitch. So what do you do? Take the pin out, quickly make the stitch, and put the pin back again? Possible - but you will have to hold the pair of bobbins somehow to stop them falling downwards. The pin was holding them up, remember! And it is tricky to make a stitch if the threads are not pulled downwards by the weight of the bobbins. Put two pins in the same hole? A little awkward. Leave the starting pin in the same place, but wind the first half of the stitch round the back of the pin? You have to know what you are doing, and the threads can get caught by the pin, which is annoying. Make the first stitch without using a pin? That will work, but the stitch will tend to droop downwards. Pins are there to keep stitches in the right place!

False starting pins

There is a better technique, which I recommend. You will see that my patterns with diagonal starts have a row of pinholes above the proper start of the lace. We could call them false pins.


Repeat Step Back

Hang the pairs of bobbins from these false pins. Now work the first line of stitches using the real pins. There is no problem, since these are below the pins where the bobbins are hung. Once the first row is complete, take out each false pin, and tug on the pair of threads, so the little loop gets pulled down. That leaves a neat first row.

Click here for how to work the lace.

For more complicated starts, click here.