Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Intrigued by bobbin lace

I don't watch much TV. Well, I spend plenty of time watching TV, I just don't watch very many different things. I think that's the most accurate way to put it. We don't have cable (we're cheap) and can only get limited channels using our antenna. We do subscribe to Netflix streaming service, which we watch using our Wii. So I can't complain, there's still plenty of TV to watch.

The channel I watch most often is Create TV, which is really wonderful, in my opinion. It's a public television station dedicated to shows about home improvement, cooking, crafting and travel. I usually put it on in the evenings, after the kids are in bed, to watch/listen to while I work on crochet or hand-sewing projects, putter around the family room and kitchen, fold laundry or use my laptop. If you can get this channel where you live, I recommend it highly; it's like having several different cable "lifestyle" channels in one.

One of the shows I like best is Rick Steves' Europe and I watch it most nights during the week. I love everything about this show; the beautiful sights, Rick Steves' mild, folksy presentation style (which belies his sincerely impressive knowledge of history, especially pertaining to Christianity), and the fact that he usually has an interesting local person guiding his tours. I also like that he offers useful tips about travel safety and has addressed concerns about traveling in the post-9/11 era.

I was particularly fascinated by a recent episode in which Rick traveled to the city of Bruges, in Belgium. During this episode, he discussed the long history of bobbin lace-making in Bruges and I was so intrigued by this craft! I had never seen it before. I immediately got online to find out more about it. I found some video demonstrations which I enjoyed watching. The video below is short but very interesting. You should make sure your speakers are on; you can hear the bobbins clicking against each other as the lace-maker works.

The next video shows, in specific detail, how to make a flat strip of lace with the bobbin technique; it's really interesting to watch it grow and fall to the back as the pillow is turned. It's so intricate and delicate; this kind of lace must be very expensive.

I enjoyed this next video as well; this woman narrates as she works. You can imagine that she has been doing this for a long time, maybe since she was a child.

The Rick Steves episode only had a quick clip of an elderly woman sitting at a table making lace, which is why I went looking for more videos. The woman on his show worked so incredibly quickly, moving the long wooden bobbins around to create the lace pattern. Her hands moved too fast to really see what she was doing. Actually, her wrists moved a lot too; I wonder if people have to stop because of arthritis or other joint pain.

Watching them work, I was reminded of making friendship bracelets as a child. If you grew up in the 1980's, or you had children of your own then, you probably remember friendship bracelets. In fact, I think they recently made something of a comeback. The method of making them was kind of similar because you would knot or twist individual strands of embroidery floss to make a flat woven piece.

(I'm digressing a lot from the topic of bobbin lace-making, but if you want to make yourself any friendship bracelets, YouTube has a vast number of instructional videos on the topic. I very much hope you will show me whatever you make. Because I know you're out there and I know you totally want to make some).

Have you ever watched a lace-maker at work? I think it would be fascinating to see. Have you ever made lace yourself? I know it can be done with crochet stitches as well. If you've made lace, I would love to see it, so please link up to photos if you can.


  1. I remember that episode--whoa, bobbin lace-making looks so mind-blowing to me. I'd love to learn it, but it would probably take the rest of my life. :)

  2. I have never made lace before, or watch a lace maker at work! I bet you were glad to catch this programme, I haven't heard of the channel before, but we do have lifestyle channel. I love anything to do with craft and home making, I bet I would love this tv channel! We don't watch much either, perhaps an hour a night - I usually try to knit at the same time. We normally have a series on the go which we record, and then fit them in when we can! Thank you for sharing these videos - I agree, it is a fascinating craft! :)

  3. This does sound really interesting. I am not much of a tv watcher either - it is not on at all through the day although I do watch a little at night. I think I would like the channel you mention though! I was a big fan of making friendship bracelets as a child too!
    Marianne x

  4. How intriguing and very interesting indeed. I'm not much of a big TV watcher either.

    Nina x

  5. Bobbin lace is amazing to me, but it doesn't look like I'd like to really do it. :-) I actually prefer crocheted lace to all other techniques to make it. I made shelf edging for my china cabinet - check here:

    ((hugs)), Teresa :-)

  6. My sister used to make bobbin lace, and she is for ever promising me her bobbins so I can have a go! Lovely post Jennifer, thank you :)

  7. Wow very interesting. I watched two of the videos on your post, and I am completely blown away. They have such great skill. Thanks for sharing Jennifer.. :)

    p.s.-you took me back when you mentioned friendship bracelets, boy those were the days!! lol. Have a lovely rest of your week.


  8. You just reminded me that my Mum has a lace making kit on top her wardrobe that has never been used, I might have to investigate. My Great Nan used to crochet lace doillies with very fine cotton and made my mum a dressing table set, I think it probably becoming a but of a lost art, would be interesting to give it a try.
    Clare x

  9. I've never watched Create TV before but it sounds like something I could get hooked on. Bobbin lace making looks complicated, soo many bobbins! The lace-work is so amazing. I couldn't believe how fast the woman's hand was moving!!!
    Handmade Cuties

  10. I've never seen it before, but the videos were really interesting to watch. Thanks for sharing it. And have a great day.

    Heidi’s Wanderings

  11. A very interesting post Jennifer, thank you!
    My hands and wrists would never stand up to such repetitive movements but I do admire the work!
    I have not seen Rick Steve's Europe but sounds like I would love it - in fact, we only have free-to-air TV, but know a huge variety of programmes is available if we decided to ever 'sign up'. I am not a TV fiend at all but do enjoy a few select shows so am happy for Hubby to watch 'whatever', while I craft!!!
    Joy x

  12. My mother and grandmother made lace. I never learned :) It sounds like an interesting episode!

  13. I've never watched Create TV but then again I don't watch too much TV. This does look like a very interesting art. Thanks for sharing those videos, I would never have known about it if you hadn't. :)

  14. I believe the crocheted lace is called "Tatting"...
    Does that ring a bell with anyone?
    We get CREATE at the cable there...and I was watching Martha Stewart last weekend while I dusted!!
    Thanks so much Jennifer...for visiting my daughters blog...
    Very sweet of you...
    The Begonias are ready for viewing!

    Linda :o)

  15. I can imagine watching bobbin lace-making can be hypnotising. It is calm and also fun to watch :p

  16. Lace making is a facinating art. My grandmother was able to do it and made the most intricate pieces. She made a veil for my mother's wedding day that would propably cost a furtune today. Unfortunately I never learned the craft myself, but I loved to sit and watch her do it, and occasionally play with the bobbins too. Lovely post Jennifer!

  17. I haven't ever seen a person making bobbin lace, but when my parents were in Belgium in the 1980s, they brought home some Belgian lace for me. The funny thing about that "gift" was my mom had bought some of the same small framed lace pictures for herself too, and after a few months decided she would like my two to add to the two of hers she had put up on her wall. So my ownership of bobbin lace was very short-lived. :-)

  18. oooh how wonderful, we did make some very basic lace...and I have been fascinated by the bobbins eversince....bestest to you
    Daisy j...x

  19. I can't get these videos to open properly as I'm on my phone, which is a bummer...
    I don't watch a lot of tv either, in fact I watched none at all until this summer when school let out... then I was addicted to netflix! We watch ours through our wii as well!! I hope you have a great weekend!
    Tammy xx

  20. Isn't that so crazy? The first time I saw bobbin lace making was last summer at an exhibit at the American Swedish Institute - I loved watching it and the lace is so gorgeous!

  21. What a great post. I've never made lace but I made about 100 friendship bracelets as a child and made myself a few last summer too. It came back so quickly and was great fun. X

  22. While bobbin lace boggles my mind to the extent I can not fathom trying to make it, Jennifer, I certainly admire it! I have read articles about it and vaguely remember seeing a video of someone making it. As for friendship bracelets, a group at our local fiber festival handed out supplies and taught passers by how to make one pattern of a friendship bracelet and I posted about it
    Thanks especially for mentioning Create TV! We have had Netflix for several years, but I was not aware of that channel and am so excited to see if I can watch it!!! Oh! If you have not already, you might enjoy the PBS program Craft in America which I watched on my laptop.

  23. Hi all. I enjoyed reading your reactions to bobbin lace, although I can't see the videos. I have made bobbin lace for several years. Our group does demonstrations, and we offer those who are watching a chance to try. We can teach the basic stitches in just a few minutes! It takes years to learn it all, but you can be making lace in as little as a week with classes. As to the hands, arthritis is a problem, but for many of us it is our neck and back that cause the most trouble, second trouble is eyesight.


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