Hi, all,

We all could use some thrifty ways to keep ourselves equipped, especially as we take more classes, start new projects for gifts or special occasions, attend conventions, etc, learn more before we've had a chance to finish the last project or three, right?  And doesn't it always happen that, with the start of a new venture, we find that all of our pillows are full, all of our bobbins are wound with the wrong thread (even if they're not hung on a pillow at the moment), and buying new things is not always practical.

Especially, though, we were all beginners once  --- and remember how intimidating that list was, telling us all the equipment we needed just to get started?  Well, that memory just doesn't ever fade, does it?  :-D

Those of us who've been through this already, and have learned how to pursue our passion for bobbin lace in cost-effective ways might want to share some of our most helpful ideas.  We could collect  and share within this discussion all the wise & wonderful ways there are to make bobbin-lace on a shoestring (note, I said "on," not "out of"   :-D  ), from making your own pillows and bobbins for next to nothing, to finding patterns from designers willing to share for free, to cheapskate (but beautiful) ways of displaying/framing/using/presenting as gifts your finished pieces.

I still have the wooden-beaded shish-kebab-skewer bobbins I made while impatiently waiting for my first mail-ordered set of "real" bobbins to arrive.  They didn't turn out half bad, and I've always used them, mixed together with the (mostly) English East Midlands-style bobbins that did, eventually, arrive. 

I made my first pillow from a very simple pattern my local lace group gave me;  I made my second with scrounged and scrap materials, except for the outermost cloth cover.  This second one was made from scraps of plywood, clean sawdust given to me at a local lumberyard (for the price of sweeping the whole heap off the floor for the guys;  what I didn't want for my pillows -- 2 of them -- went into my garden), scrap fabric (an old shirt or sheet, I can't remember now), and the fiberfill stuffing from an old pillow (cleaned and re-fluffed by hand).

The best skinflint hint for lace-makers that I've found recently is this one:  "If you don’t have bobbins, you can improvise some by cutting wooden chopsticks down to about four inches long.  Wrapping a rubber band around the head will help keep the thread from falling off the end as you manipulate the bobbins." 

That's from the Weavezine website, at:  http://weavezine.com/content/basic-bobbin-lace-two-color-bracelet

The project there is also pretty reasonable for beginners, too -- online being a cheap way to learn, especially if you have no lace groups or teachers near you, and can grasp the concepts without a human mentor to talk to and "show you how."

So -- does anyone else out there have helpful hints to share, especially money-saving hints?  Especially ones that help out new lacemakers?

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Cher's Cute and Classy Paper Bobbins

I once had a whole passel of kids in the church family night group and we made these bobbins even more simply.

Wrap and glue the paper on lollipop sticks.  Using large pony beads, glue one bead at the bottom and the one bead at the top and bottom of the bare space where the thread goes.  They have enough weight and handle very well.  We made Christine Springett's snakes.  What a riot!  From second graders to eighth graders.  We used size 8 pearl cotton in every color I could find and for the weavers we used an equal sized metallic.  The metallic is perfect for a nice "snakey" snake.  Snakes are beautiful and their patterns are so shiny.  I still use these bobbins with beginners, until they get the fever for the "pretty" bobbins.

I've added one idea under the equipment thread. - basically using a folded blanket as a pillow, and pencils with erasers on the end as bobbins!

Patty, the kids' bobbins are brilliant!  I wish I'd thought of that when my kids were little and learning lace-making.  They would have loved the color and the paper-rolling.

When my first lace group (the Lost Art Lacers of North Jersey -- that's New Jersey, USA, not Jersey in England) was invited to teach lace-making to school groups, they would provide the equipment.  On that scale, the best solution settled on was to use toilet-paper rolls covered with squares of unbleached muslin (calico), pinned in place, and set in a plastic basket.  The "bobbins" provided were the now-nearly-extinct wooden dolly clothespins.  With crochet cotton and some pins, they were all ready for their first snakes.

Jo, the folded (or rolled?) blanket makes a lot of sense!  I have some old wool blankets that got thrown into the washing machine one too many times (or maybe my kids laundered them -- in hot water, very likely!), so now they are very thick, shrunken, and felted.  I've been saving them to cut up and wrap around segments of plastic-foam pool noodles for new pillows -- but just rolling them up as is would work, too.

The pencils would work, also, though it really is easier to work with a head that sticks out a little, mushroom style.  Of course, the rubber band idea would work on pencils, too.  At any rate, pencils and chopsticks are both cheaper than new wood dowels!

I've carried this over from the Beginning Bobbin Lace discussion.

My first pillow was borrowed, and it was simply made out of two cloth circles, sewn together like a couch-cushion and filled with poly fiber-fill, with a small sawdust-filled bolster sitting in a rectangular hole in the center.  Easy, cheap, effective -- who could ask for more?  

The first pillow I owned was another roller-pillow, but with a firm base:  I made it myself with 1/2-inch-thick corrugated cardboard & poly-fiber-fill, with a roller made out of sawdust pounded into a cloth tube between two frozen-juice-can lids.  I made the basics with well-washed/shrunk unbleached muslin, covering both parts (the cookie-pillow-like base and the roller bolster) with a remnant of a washable suede-cloth.

The only finicky thing about this technique is that the inner dimensions of the bolster box should closely match the length and diameter of the bolster that'll sit in it.  All the other measurements are variable.  So the first thing I did was make the roller-bolster.  It's much safer to take measurements off of an existing bolster than plan for a size and find that the finished bolster doesn't match the plan.

I made the bolster for this out of sawdust.  I had sewn a tube of good-quality unbleached muslin (calico) to match the circumference of the juice-can lids.  One end was roughly sewn up with a "drawstring" of sturdy thread.  One juice lid was pushed down into the tube, clean sawdust was pushed in, and I started pounding the sawdust with a rubber mallet. 

Unfortunately, I had acquired the sawdust on a day when the lumber-yard was cutting with a large-tooth saw.  It took me a frustrating while to figure out that what I was trying to compact as tightly as possible were thousands of tiny springy corkscrews of wood.  It didn't go so well.

The fine sawdust for the second attempt worked much better.  I ended up with a very firm (and very heavy) bolster, one which would hold my pins every bit as steadily as I could want.  After this, I could get started on the base.

I used a rectangle of the thick cardboard, cut with a cheap hacksaw, and rounded the corners. The four sides of the bolster-box were also cut out of this cardboard, and glued in place. A piece of muslin was then glued onto the top edge of the bolster-box.  When the glue had dried, fiber-fill was laid out evenly around the box, and the muslin pulled over it smoothly and pinned to the cardboard's edges.  When the muslin was pinned on all sides of the base, the pillow was flipped over and another rectangle of muslin was sewn to the pinned top muslin, with the pins removed as I went.  This encased the entire thing in a taut bag of muslin.

An X was cut in the muslin stretched over the top of the bolster-box, and the roller-bolster fitted in.  The flaps of the X were cut away (though I glued them into the box in later versions);  the bolster and the cookie were covered with the "pretty" suede-cloth;  and I had a lace pattern started on it by the end of that day.

When I get the time, I'll put a proper set of instructions, with diagrams and measurements and such, onto the Patterns page.

Oh, and I still have that first pillow I made.  I don't make so much bobbin-lace anymore -- I'm completely dazzled by the needle-laces -- but it still serves me well for the occasional gifts or trims of bobbin lace I want to make.

http://lynxlace.com/learningbobbinlace.html#equipment recommendations   This page contains photos of bobbins and pillows.  I made all the pillows, and I made the beaded bobbins.

Instruction for making a pillow:   http://lynxlace.com/makeapillow.html 


Those bead bobbins look pretty much like mine, the ones I made on BBQ skewers.  At the time, I had both the skewers and a selection of wood beads in my stash.  The wood beads had smaller holes, so that's why I didn't go looking for dowels -- though I did first consider whittling down twigs to fit the beads.  I decided that was too much trouble, since the skewers fit the beads so perfectly.

The cardboard-based roller pillow was designed, first, to minimize cost; and second, to minimize the level of skills and tool-possession needed.  My kids were just toddlers at the time, so I didn't have the freedom to duck out for half an hour or more and work in the wood-shop;  nor did I want power tools in use near my kids, not even out on the porch.  As it was, I ended up pounding sawdust into a fabric tube at 1am in the garage!  :-D

Using cardboard requires no tools more dangerous or unwieldy than a hacksaw or craft knife.  Most of the materials can be things found around a typical household, or can be easily acquired (cardboard boxes, sawdust, or pool noodles).  These two considerations are what most suggested to me that this method really does belong in the Pennypinchers discussion.

Ioli, your directions for the different types of pillow, as shown on lynxlace, are excellent.  Boy, do I wish something like that had been around when I started out making lace.  Of course, I also wish the whole internet thing had been around way back then ...  :-D

Yes, I know what you mean.  Back in the old days (hehe) we had to write a letter and wait 2 weeks for a response.  To buy bobbins you had to know someone who did lace, find out who their supplier was, write off for a catalong, wait for the catalog, order the bobbins, wait for the bobbins.  Now you just punch a couple of buttons and the whole world is at your fingertips.


That Weavezine website bobbin lace tutorial is really quite good.  The beginning project is relatively simple, attractive and well explained.

The weavezine page no longer exist but is archived at https://web.archive.org/web/20150430080634/http://weavezine.com/con...


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