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

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I think that one of the differences of using one or the other is the comfort in working the lace. Idrija Lace is generally made using large bobbins and coarse thread. On a bolster pillow these bobbins hang vertically and give tension to the lace. Half of the tensioning work is done this way. At the same time, all the turning of the tapes is done very comfortable on a bolster. In fact, I would say that all tape laces, independently from the country where they are made, are worked on bolster pillows: for example, Russian tapes, Slovenian tapes, Schneeberg lace, Spanish Hinojosa tape lace... etc.

Making your own bolster pillow is easy and cheap. You can give it a try.

Best wishes from Antje, in Spain.

Linda

I believe most lacemakers who use a bolster pillow hold the bobbins in their hands as they work, with the palm of the hand facing up.  (Unlike western European lacemakers, who work palm down.)  I remember seeing some videos of Idrija lacemakers on youtube, I think, but I don't remember exactly which videos.  They would be on the lacenews page, under Slovenian or Idrija lace.     http://www.youtube.com/user/lacenews/videos?sort=dd&view=1&... 

My understanding is that most eastern Europeans who use bolster pillows work half stitch as twist cross instead of cross twist, and that this has to do with the bobbins hanging straight down, and the way they are handled.  I don't think it means that you absolutely MUST do it twist cross.  It just works a little better that way.  

But I would like to hear more about this myself.

Lorelei

As Lorelei said, other than how the bobbins are held, it's basically the same.

Since most of my lacemaking is done on my lunch hour, I like tape laces because of their portablility.  I've worked with mainly Russian and Milanese.  Making a foray into the Spanish "witch stitch" these days.

I just started learning the palms-up method on a bolster pillow in anticipation of a Hinojosa class in October.  I made the bolster out of an old blanket and a piece of 3/4" thick 100% wool industrial felt.  A bit unorthodox, but it works.

There is a wonderful video on YouTube by Madejsycafe on palms up....

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xDTwiX9r_rw&feature=plcp

Also check out part 3 of that series...you get a better idea of working with more bobbins.

I like this method becaue it goes quickly, and I like being able to hang the bobbins off the sides of the pillow.  You can get a good rhythm going, and it's a lot easier on the hands and arms than the palms down. 

 

Peg

Peggy

The video you linked to is a good one for showing the braid stitch in very slow motion.  this one is kind of the opposite.  At points I almost wondered if the playback was speeded up.  But I think this is a real expert at work:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kryjo2jXgSk&list=PL6946D96DC5FB0...

I think it comes down to preference and what you are used to, although as Antje noted, tape laces are almost always made on bolsters - I know that is what they use in Idrija.  I like working most laces on a bolster, but I learned on a bolster and that is what I am comfortable with (even when using a cookie I work palms up).  The Idrijan tape lace heart I did on the bolster was a little complicated because I had to keep turning the pillow around to work the curves, but it wasn't too bad.  I'm sure I'd have the same if not a worse problem on a cookie, since my cookie is larger and more awkward whereas the bolster is compact.  Plus, you can move bobbins to the other side of the bolster to keep them out of the way as you go through the different sections.   I like the way the bobbins hang neatly and keep tension on the bolster, no matter which way it is turned - one of my frustrations on cookies is when I'm working at an angle and suddenly all the bobbins want to roll down to me (I don't use spangles - and you can't do sewings with them).  When I needed to lay threads across areas I'd worked already I had to push the pins all the way in to the heads to make sure they didn't catch, but again that'd be a concern with the cookie. 

Nancy / Allegra

I usually use a cookie for tape lace, but it does have one drawback:  because it is flat it is often difficult to get the crochet hook into the hole to make a sewing.  On a bolster that is easier because of the curvature of the bolster.  But, as you say Nancy, it is a matter of what you are used to.  It is worth the trouble to experiment and try new methods.  But the beauty of the lace, and the comfort of the lace maker are the only things that really matter, I think.

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.

ioli...just watched the video you linked.  I think you're right about her being an expert...she's so fast!  I aspire to that speed, but it's going to take a LOT of practice. 

Hi Peggy.

My bolster pillows are made either of straw or of sawdust.

I am very fond of straw: I especially like the smell of straw while making lace. I also love the way the pins get into the pillow so easily, but firmly. The negative part of a straw pillow is filling it: it is hard work to press it well and not let little "imperfections" or holes in the pillow.

Sawdust is heavy, so, I have used it only for my small pillows. You have to press the sawdust while filling your pillow so that it gets hard. The pins hold very well here. The problem for me is the "smell" of this dusty wood. Although it is only when it is newly made. It goes away with time.

And finally, I have made bolster pillows with poliestirene in the center and old wooden blankets for the final or outer layers.YOu have to tension very much these layers. Better with someones help. These pillows are very quickly to make, the materials are easy to find, they are cheap... And also comfortable to use.

In a word: you can use many materials. I am always for using what you have at hand. But it has to be hard (not extremely!).

I have found instructions in a Russian page which I find great: two of my students have followed these instrutcions. But be careful with the quantity of stones you use! http://kruzh.com/book/1_2.html

I hope these tips are useful for you.

Happy lacing! Antje.

My bolster is made of sawdust.  but it is very heavy.  Making it was a comedy of errors.  There do exist short pins intended for Duchesse.  They are short because you can then push them all the way down in the pillow.  These might work on your industrial felt.  Except if  you work with really thick threads, they might not be long enough to hold.

I've been thinking about making a needlelace bolster pillow with a plastic coffee can as the innermost part.

Peggy,

I believe my bolster is filled with wood shavings, or at least that's what they said when I bought it.  It is rather firm and very solidly packed in a tightly woven linen casing.  It also has an outer linen sleeve that can be removed and washed, if needed.

I started with silk pins too, but I bent so many that I moved on to other pins.  If you can't find lace pins, the longer steel dressmaker's pins seem to work well (and I found them at JoAnn's, so they're pretty easy to get).

My cookie is the spongy foam core style and it's pretty firm too, although I have to push the pins in much more to be able to tension well.  (I've been agonizing my way through Jo Edkin's Sampler Mat on the cookie - I can't imagine trying this on the bolster!)

Nancy

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.

 

Wonderful information.  Thank you!

Antje....When you stuff a pillow with straw, do you cut it into smaller pieces first or use long lengths?  I can imagine how good a straw-stuffed pillow would smell.

ioli...I saw 3/4" Duchesse pins on one of the lace vendor's sites, but they were pretty expensive.  Thought I'd try the 3/4" quilter/applique pins from the fabric store.  Would you please tell the story about stuffing the bolster with sawdust?  I always enjoy stories.

Nancy...I love Jo Edkins' site.  I learned to make lace in the mid-90's.  Single-mother-raising-2-kids-alone stuff got in the way, so I put it aside until about 2 years ago.  The part that was most helpful was her animated Lace Stitch page.  While I remembered the basic stitches, it helped a lot with picots and joins.

Glad the weekend is here so I can finally play with my lace.  Enjoy everyone!

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