Is there any difference in the way that Idrija stitches are made on a Bolster pillow vs. a flat pillow?

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Is this the mat you meant?    HERE    Do show us a picture!

Back around 1982 or 3 I lived in Chicago, with no car.  So I walked to the lumber yard with my shopping cart, and asked one of the guys if they had sawdust to give away.  Sure.  How much?  About 2 or 3 gallons.  Lady, we don't have liquid sawdust! (in a tone of exasperation). I said " I meant roughly the equivalent of 2 gallons, does half a bushel give a better idea?"  Ok, he finds the sawdust.  I said, "you are probably wondering what I'm going to use it for.  I going to stuff a lace pillow with it."  At this point he backed up about 3 feet, went rigid, his eyes became intense.  I could tell he was thinking "This lady is a serious nut case, I'd better move farther away in case she does something really strange or dangerous."

So I hauled it home, and started stuffing.  I pounded it into the cylindrical bolster with a meat pounding mallet, since that is all I had at the time.  I got it as firm as I could, then vacuumed up all the sawdust in the room.  I couldn't talk very well, since I had so much sawdust in my throat and lungs.  (Should have worn a mask.)

Next day I went to work, got home and saw the pillow had settled somewhat in the last 24 hours.  So I unstitched it and packed in quite a lot more.  Vacuumed, sawdust in throat and lungs, etc.  

I still have it, but have only used it for projects with really large thread, like 10/2 linen.  I also used it for a needle lace project to see how a bolster would work.  It did help with needle lace tensioning, but I need to rig some kind of frame to hold it at the right height so I can sit in my rocking chair.

Great story!  I love your description of his reaction.  

Good information, too.  Now I know that if I make my own I'll know to wait for it to settle before stitching it up.

Thanks for posting it.

Yes, the 6th one down on the Mats page is what I'm working on.  Yes, I have been called overly ambitious! 

I'm 3/4 of the way done - I just finished the 3rd triangle - but I can put up a picture once I finish.  It's defiintely been a learning experience, since I'd not done 5 of the grounds featured in the piece before.  The one thing I'm not happy with is the cloth bands around the middle sections.  The first one I did worked, but then three came out looking like bias ground.  Grrr... I fussed enough with the next few so they look okay, so I seem to be winning - the score is lace: 3, lacemaker: 5. 

On the other hand, I'm just happy I figured out how to start the wretched thing since I'm still a new lacemaker.  I nearly admitted defeat right before I had the breakthroughs: 1) the starting pins run diagonally from the right bottom corner to the middle and 2) I have to work through the sections clockwise, not counterclockwise.


Most lace makers, when starting a torchon piece, would look for a place to hang on where sewing at the end, and the cut threads, can be hidden by a cloth stitch section.  You are right to start on a diagonal.  If it were me, I would start along the red line:     

 It doesn't matter whether you work around the square clockwise or counterclockwise.  English lace makers usually put the footside to their right; continental lace makers usually put the footside to their left.

In regard to the cloth parts looking like bias ground: you can start weaving a cloth stitch lozenge towards the left or towards the right, whichever produces the best result for you specific situation.

At left, version a probably should have been started by weaving towards the right.  Lozenge b will come out just fine, and lozenge c will also be ok.

But perhaps you have already figured this all out.

We do have a special section for those working on Jo Edkins' patterns:  

It is set up as a DISCUSSION inside the BEGINNERS' group.  If you work any more of her patterns and get stuck, post a comment there and someone will offer suggestions.

Yes, I'm subscribed to the Jo Edkin's forum, too, but since you asked the question on this thread I just kept to it.  My agonizing and breakthroughs happened before I even knew about the IOLI - how I wish I'd found you sooner!

I actually started on the full diagonal rather than finding a "V" to start with. That was the only way to hang on all 21 pairs needed.  The section you have highlighted above is part of the 4th quarter, so I'm not there yet.  To make the tight cloth ground, I have to go down the long area first, then across the short top (bias ground is across, then down).  Funny, it reminds me of when I used to do plastic canvas work...  The problem I've had is finding threads on pins at both top corners every time I'm ready to start the cloth ground, then trying to figure out what to do with the extra thread!   The first time I made a bias strip instead of cloth, I undid and redid the same section 4 times before I decided I just needed to move on. 

Comparing my work with with Jo's piece, I think there's a couple other factors at work.  1) I enlarged the pattern quite a bit when I made the pricking and 2) I think I'm using a finer thread than she did.  I hope to be able to sew in all the ends along the diagonal as I finish so it will look clean and the join pretty invisible when I'm done.


We last discussed it here, but I'm posting my photo of the finished sampler on the Jo Edkin's forum...Please take a look!

Just to put in my 2 cents on the original question. I've used both a cookie and a bolster to make lace on. I prefer the cookie for all my bobbin lace. I use the bolster now only for needle lace and even then I prefer just holding it in hand.

I find that as long as you make sure the tension in the lace/thread is tight as you work it all turns out fine.

We in Slovenia where Idrija lies only make bobbin lace on bolster pillows .

Since our bobbins are pretty large and heavy they hang conveniently down the side of the bolster pillow. If I used them on a flat pillow I imagine they would more easily make a mess than smaller bobbins which are generally used with flat pillows - at least this is my observation. Besides, the tape lace usually doesn't require as many bobbins as some other types of lace I see on the web.

The narrow tape especially has to be made quite tight and we tend to pull the bobbins a bit, then they hang down and pull the yarn down a bit, which would not happen if the bobbins were lieing on a flat pillow.

It would be interesting to hear of the experience of someone who has made Idrija tape lace on a flat pillow - and also to see the finished piece.

I recently made a bolster pillow and have been working on Hinojosa projects.  I like the bolster better for tape lace.  I think the hanging bobbins help the tension...I don't have to pull and tug and re-situate the bobbiins with way I do when I've made Milanese on a cookie pillow.

I use the Spanish style bobbins...what some people call "clunkers".  I love the sound they make, and they're easy for me to work with.  Palms up is easier on my hands, arms and shoulders.  Still trying to find the right basket for the bolster.  I'm currently using a bamboo silverware tray to keep it from rolling away.  

I call the bolster pillow my $30 pillow.  It's made out of 1/4" thick ethafoam sheets wrapped around a chunk of pool noodle.  Problem is that it was too light.  So I stuffed 3 rolls of quarters in the center to give it it's perfect.

And you can take it on any tollway in the country!

Peggy Lagodny said:

Nancy...I agree with you about liking the way the bobbins hang over the bolster.  I find that one of the big reasons I like this technique so much.  I have square binche bobbins that I use for Milanese on the cookie pillow, but they still roll.  SIGH!

Bolster question...the one I put together and am using now is made of strips of a woven blanket (not wool).  The final layer is a 3/4" thick piece of industrial wool felt that is sewn in place over it.  It's very firm.  The problem I'm having is that the longer pins (1 1/4" silk pins) don't want to go into the felt easily.  I think it might have something to do with the felt being rolled...the underside is more compressed than the top side.  I have to use a pin-pusher, and unless I'm verrrrrrrrrrry careful, the pins bend or break.  I picked up some 3/4" quilting pins at the fabric store tonight.  I'm hoping they'll work better.  Won't be able to try them out until this weekend.

What is your bolster stuffed with?  How firm is it?  I also made one out of a wool blanket that I washed in hot water and dried in a hot dryer to shrink it.  I thought I rolled it tight enough, but it's pretty spongy.  Seriously thinking of going to a furniture maker and seeing if I can buy a bag of sawdust, and try to make one stuffed that way.


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