For those who love hand made lace.
There are conventions for certain stitches. But generally you have to learn on patterns which DO describe what to do, then apply your knowledge to others. It also helps if you have a photo of the lace. I'm sure people on this forum would help if you ran into problems.
You might find my patterns helpful while you're learning, see
especially 'Patterns for beginners'. They describe in detail what you have to do.
Nathalie -- with bobbin lace I don't think it is a good idea to pick a pattern (if you are a beginner) and then find out how to read the pattern. It is just too complicated. Instead, start with really simple patterns where each one builds on the last. That way you gradually build up an understanding about how the parts of a pattern connect to the other parts.
There are different styles of bobbin lace which use slightly different sets of working methods. The total number of universal techniques (working methods) is actually very small. this pattern below has all the elements common to all bobbin lace.
It is from my website, with instructions.. http://lynxlace.com/learningbobbinlace-circle.html
Jo Edkins has a lot of patterns in a style called TORCHON, a geometric lace which is very logical in its structure. And you can work through her lessons in sequence and learn a lot.
I have also posted some lessons for braided/plaited laces, here on this site. http://laceioli.ning.com/group/bobblinlace-beginners.
I would say, decide which you want to start with. Then set up. As you work patterns ask questions here, post pictures of each practice piece, and we will offer suggestions and advice. It is not exactly having a teacher at your elbow, but nearly so. We are right next to you.