Freehand Lace

Freehand bobbin laces are a group of peasant laces made in various countries in Europe.  What they have in common is that pins were only used along the 2 outer edges, and careful tension control made the threads follow their proper path.  Some of the localities for these laces are Sweden, northwestern Italy and southeastern France.  Scania, Queyras, Maurienne are some of the varieties.

Members: 24
Latest Activity: Oct 28, 2018


Swedish         Queyras           Maurienne       freehand         freehand


Discussion Forum

This group does not have any discussions yet.

Comment Wall


You need to be a member of Freehand Lace to add comments!

Comment by Lorelei Halley Administrator on October 31, 2013 at 3:12pm


Please add this dissertation to the list of recommended books in the EARLY BOBBIN LACE group.  With full publication details.

Nancy, It looks like you used the pin twice in #35. Is that right?  It would make sense, and is a common trick in Cluny laces. (a style which arose, based on museum examples of old Genoese bobbin laces). If you aren't familiar with this manuoever I describe it here:

As to LePompe D #32, I just looked at the woodcut, and it is certainly ambiguous.  I am not at all certain that there is a "right way" to work a LePompe lace.  There are several ways those thick vertical bars in the woodcut could possibly be worked.  And I am not confident that one is better than another.  You chose tallies. At the Art Institute of Chicago I saw many Genoese laces with tallies made of more than 2 pairs. Multi-pair tallies were just as common, or more so, as 2 pair tallies. Devon's example at the Met made a thick braid of 4 pairs. You take each pair and treat it as a single thread and work ctctctc however long until it covers the distance.

Comment by Devon Thein on October 31, 2013 at 7:58am

Regarding 35, NM, I think that you are going to find that Gil Dye deals with this in Sixteenth & Seventeenth Century Lace, Book 1.

Also there is an excellent dissertation written by Lena Dahren for the Uppsala Universitet. It is in Swedish, but the diagrams of the lace and photos make it a valuable resource even for the non-Swedish speaker. The name of the book is Med kant av guld och silver, En studie av knypplade barder och uddar av metall, 1550-1640. Lena was able to study gold and silver laces on ecclesiastical objects in Sweden. The collections in Sweden are unusually well provenanced, which is one of the things that make this study so important. Also, Lena is a lacemaker and she has been able to diagram things that she shows photos of. In reality, this book which is 271 pages, and features innumerable high quality color photographs, practically on every page, and in many cases, several to a page, is one of the most important scholarly works to have been done in lace in our era. Lena recently told me that there has been some discussion of having the book translated into English, which I would dearly love. To receive funds for this project she would have to demonstrate that it is important and that people would want to read it in English. If you would like to contact Lena about buying a copy of the dissertation in Swedish or English, contact me privately, and I will give you the information.

Comment by Devon Thein on October 31, 2013 at 7:39am

Regarding number 32 Le Pompe, I would like to refer you to a piece of lace in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art where there is a similar structure. It is 20.186.91.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art has a collection of laces originally owned by a collector named Ida Schiff. These are considered to be genuine early laces and the accession numbers all begin 20.186. So, for instance, if you were to go to the website, and "Search the collections", you could search for lace, bobbin lace, also the time frame, and Europe as the place and you could then look at the laces and identify that those that start 20.186 are from the Schiff Collection. You might get a feel for how they were done, while you are waiting for Gil Dye's books.

Comment by Nancy M. Terselic on October 31, 2013 at 12:46am

Devon, thanks for inviting me.  I see there's been plenty of interesting conversation going on here!  I wonder if I might solicit some advice about some of the period laces I've tried?   I'm not sure how to link them here from my photo gallery, but  #32 Le Pompe D was the first I did with no guidance.  The one section I did as a tally sticks out like a sore thumb, but I'm constantly experimenting with various techniques while working to see what does and does not work.  #33 Nuw Modelbuoch A is a point of pain right now...I'm not sure I want to revisit it yet, but #35 Nuw Modelbuoch C - is there a better way to do the crossing under the flowerhead? How can I make the pinholes at the plait exchanges less obvious?

Comment by Veronika Irvine on October 30, 2013 at 3:06pm

Hi Lorelei,

I would love to see your charts and analysis.  I hope you will consider publishing them in some form one day.   It sounds like a wealth of information and I would hate to see it get lost.  If I lived closer to you, I would invite myself over and go over them with you.  I will try to look at the grounds from the perspective of crossing braids.  Thank you for the advice.


Comment by Devon Thein on October 30, 2013 at 7:16am

Nancy Terselic has been experiement with some Le Pompe patterns, and I suggested that she move the conversation  to the Freehand lace group, since I categorize the Le Pompe and early laces as Freehand laces.

Nancy mentions that she has ordered all of Gil Dye's books. I think that you will notice that Gil Dye has come a long way in her own thinking about the construction of early laces since writing the first book about Elizabethan lace. Nancy is very correct that you have to try to get into the mind set of the early laces and that takes a while.

Also, Nancy references my article in the IOLI Bulletin about the Giant Plait. The Giant Plait is my Great White Whale that continues to occupy my thoughts and dreams. Since writing that article, for which I did any number of convincing samples I have been wondering if I had it wrong. If I were in the mind set of the early laces, might I not have created a plait of any size by simply twisting all the bobbins across a row, and then crossing across the row? I admit that I haven't extensively tested this theory to the extent of trying to create the little branching areas the way I did in the original article. But in the spirit of trying to be entirely honest with my readers who are apparently reading my earlier work, I thought I should mention it.


Comment by Lorelei Halley Administrator on October 29, 2013 at 2:54pm


I am not convinced that a standard pricking was used in the early days of bobbin lace.  The evidence we have are LePompe and Nuw Modelbuch.  Those don't contain standard prickings.

My personal view is that the grounds were invented as ways to cross braids.  Two braids crossing, exploded, makes 5 hole ground (rose/virgin ground).  A 3 braid crossing creates a Binche snowflake.

Many years ago I went through all my books and tried to figure out families of grounds, grouped by similarities in the thread paths and by the number of pairs needed.  I with you could see all the stuff I created, my charts and analysis.  It is too much to post all of it.  Each ground has variations.  Sometimes the variations shade into each other, as a sort of natural outgrowth.  Then continental grounds come to England and the English invent their own favorite kinds of complications. The actual pinning pattern is not relevant, I think.  What matters is the major directions that pairs take.

I'm going to try and set up an abbreviated chart for you.

5 hole = cross 2 braids

3 braid crossing = Binche snowflake

Comment by Veronika Irvine on October 28, 2013 at 6:05pm

From the pictures I saw in the OIDFA bulletin on Standard Prickings, it looked to me that a standard pricking was a pricking with a pin hole at every grid point.  The pictures showed what look to be 60 degree grids but I assume any grid angle can be used.  I am assuming that when you design a piece of lace you stick to one particular grid angle so that all the grounds in the piece might be able to be worked on the same standard pricking.  Therefore, angle would not prevent you from using a standard pricking.

Similarly, omitting holes should not be a limitation - other than it requires the lacemaker to have a really good understanding of how the ground is worked in order to know which holes to omit, it does not stop you from working a ground on a standard pricking.  The example lace shown in the OIDFA bulletin shows several cases where holes were omitted.

The limitation of a standard pricking, as I see it, would be that you could not use pins in-between the grid points.  This limitation means that threads can not  change direction at these midpoints.

Of course there are other limitations of a standard pricking as mentioned in the OIDFA article: it is easier to make errors particularly when moving a pattern up on the pillow, figures are not as smooth and nicely shaped etc.  However these limitations do not stop you from working a ground.

My main interest in pursuing this topic is that I am wondering what influence standard prickings may have had on the lace grounds that were invented in the early days.  Did the lacemakers experiment on a standard pricking, did the limitations of a standard pricking influence the kinds of grounds they explored?

Comment by Lorelei Halley Administrator on October 28, 2013 at 4:14pm

The closest thing to showflakes in a frame in VIELE GUTE GRUENDE is 4033.  It is the same, except that the snowflake is worked in half stitch. But the pairs move in the same way.

Comment by Lorelei Halley Administrator on October 28, 2013 at 4:07pm

In one sense, since all grounds, by definition, are regular patterns which repeat they are all aligned along some kind of diagonal or vertical-horizontal grid.  The thing which is most against thinking in terms of a standard pricking is that different styles use a grid with different angles.  The torchon angle is 45º when you measure the angle between the diagonal line and the footside.  For all point ground laces this angle is flattened, and it may be 52, 56, 60, or 63º.  For continental straight laces such as Valenciennes, Paris and Binche the angle is also flattened.  Although with Binche, different snowflake grounds each have their own preferred angle, and that may vary within the same piece of lace.  The angles are flattened in each case in order to give the most pleasing curves in the lace and to maintain a good density in the cloth stitch close work.

A is the torchon grid. Several torchon variants are used.

B. is rose/virgin ground.  All pins are worked CTCT (or TCTC)

C. is rose/virgin ground where the corner pins in each square are worked CT (or TC). A pinholw isn't really necessary, so it is omitted.  The ground pricking looks identical to torchon ground.

D is used for honeycomb ground or Paris/kat stitch ground when used in a torchon lace. The central hole is omitted.

E.shows the thread paths worked on that grid. Honeycomb and Paris use the same basic paths for the pairs, just the stitch worked at each intersection is different.

F and G show flattened grids.  

F has basically the same pin grid as E, but can be used for Binche large snowflake.

G can be used for point ground, although not quite so squashed variants are more common.  It is also used for kat stitch or Paris ground.  Only the top and bottom crossings are supported by pins.


Members (24)


Translate This Site



Created by Lorelei Halley Administrator Jan 19, 2012 at 7:07pm. Last updated by Lorelei Halley Administrator Dec 9, 2014.


Created by Lorelei Halley Administrator Jan 19, 2012 at 7:29pm. Last updated by Lorelei Halley Administrator Sep 2, 2014.

How to Post a Long Article

Created by Lorelei Halley Administrator Mar 7, 2013 at 4:47pm. Last updated by Lorelei Halley Administrator Mar 7, 2013.


Created by Lorelei Halley Administrator Jan 19, 2012 at 6:58pm. Last updated by Lorelei Halley Administrator Dec 20, 2012.

How to embed a video on the IOLI site

Created by Tatman Jan 25, 2012 at 3:26pm. Last updated by Lorelei Halley Administrator Jan 25, 2012.






Other Events

Laurie Waters has a very substantial EVENTS list on lacenews.   

EU Cookie Directive

© 2020   Created by Lorelei Halley Administrator.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service