I would like to purchase a lace pillow like a cookie shape as I like to do roundals, also I do lengths of laces and would love to have the roller part too. I have seen them on the internet both cookie with a roller attached. Rather than rush out and just get a pillow i though it a good idea to ask people whom actually do Bobbin lace what their thoughts are, nothing like hands on experience. At the moment I am using a stuffed couch pillow and it can cause a stiff neck at times with the angles I can only possition it and have to stretch out my neck.

I have been four years looking on the net for the right pillow and it is mind blowing how many types there are, Bobbin lace is so important to me so this is why I have not yet got a pillow since I want to get the right one, what better way to ask people who are hands on with Bobbin lace, your answers are important to me as there is no replacement for experience.

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There it goes again, my Reply has added to Stella Lee's, It looks like an extension of your message to me!

WOW, that's brilliant! Would of NEVER of though of that! Thinking of making a Bolster pillow for travel, so I do not have to take me cumbersome roller pillow with all its hanging bobbins! Although I love my roller pillow it is no good for travel.
Sue said:

Just another suggestion for an inner tube, try a local carpet or fabric shop and see if they have an old cardbooard tube that the fabric/carboard came on. They are quite long so you would be able to cut several section from one tube and then cover it in whichever way you prefer!

Ok, this is going to be a LONG one...

But let me start from where I last wrote something in the topic (which was on August 3rd):

So to Stella Lee - Yes I did cut my hay into pieces of about 5 cm, and from what I read the best possible type of straw is from barley (which, due to me living in a urban part of the country is impossible to obtain - my aunt's got a farm some 950 kms away, but they don't do barley anymore). I imagine that if you're not living in a wet climate there's no reason for that straw/hay to get mouldy, if it only had been dried in a proper way.  And about the stuffing getting loose - I don't know why it's like that, especially that the material which was used to create it is really strong and it still ripped in 4 places during the stuffing (you can imagine the amount of force I used to pack everything inside). Sure, it is kind of springy but then again which type of straw/hay isn't? Horse hair could be interesting,.

And about wood shavings - this could work if you're able to get your hands on shavings that are hard packed by machine (I mean the type of stuff you can buy in the store with supplies for pet care). In Poland those packages are only rectangular or square in shape, but if you could get your hand on something cylindrical end then just sew it up you without actually opening up the package it should work better than anything :D

The heaviness is a matter of person I guess - I wouldn't mind a very heavy pillow as long as I would be able to use it without worrying about those soft patches <.<'

Dear Administrator:

As it happens almost everything in Poland is packed using crappy quality plastic bags or equally crappy plastic... something, and I've phoned to several stores that specialize in pipes and some such but they don't cut pipes into small pieces and I don't have any possibility to cut this stuff at home, so I guess this is a dead end. Now there's some unnamed object in my mind that could do the trick, but I can't remember what it was, so I'll leave it at the moment.

To Selena:

Thanks for the info about that supplier, I'll try to get in contact with them anyway, even if it should the shipping would cost me a fortune :P And about suppliers I've tried every possible one in Europe so far (except one shop from Spain, but their site isn't working correctly so I'm not able to mail them and I'm not sure if someone there speaks English, but the shop has been recommended to me by a friendly lace maker living not far from that shop). And to be honest I found out that every stuffing goes lump over time - be it totally lump or just a bit, but it does, so one has to get ready for this fact :P 

Yep, know ALL about undoing the pillow over and over :P I've had to add twice the amount of hay after I thought my pillow to be finished, got quite frustrated and had to take a break from lace making, but a couple of days ago I found a picture of a mini bolster pillow and decided to make one, it looks like this :


It's gorgeous and looks quite economic (you know, the amount of stuffing used shouldn't be large) and it's more handy than mine. Hm, perhaps "murdering" that felt with hot water or felting it with a needle first would prevent it from getting loose later? Sure, it sounds like a lot of work, but if it works i's totally worth it. And thanks for sharing with your lace project - it looks very good and very old fashioned which I personally adore ^^ <3

Again to Stella : Your pillow collection looks impressing, and I quite envy you of that cookie pillow - I wanted to make one myself, but there's no way to get ethafom in Poland (sometimes one can find i t in hardware store but in tiny pieces and ours is very thin - 2mm of thickness and it costs alot). How is that sand pillow doing, is it working for you? Doesen't the sand come out through the pin holes?


There's a saying in my country, about having a good person in the family (that "one should wash his/her feet and drink the water" , which means that someone so good/helpful should be praised above all else and respected above all, for kindness and willingness to help is a very rare virtue), and I guess that this is the situation here :) I also use home-made bobbins, although mine were made without use of any tools (just cotton candy sticks, some glue and wooden beads made by my uncle - so far one broke, but thanks to my "magical glue" and a small metal band I was able to fix it).

You totally HAVE TO post the pictures of your bobbins here :) 

Karolina, thank you for taking the time to respond in so much detail, it is so helpful for a newbie like me to know that pillows will always need maintenance no matter what they are made of and I think I'll steer clear of ever trying hay now. Now to answer a couple of your questions.

1. That sand pillow was dreadful and the pins moved around inside it, but it was a very good learning experience. I was VERY surprised that the sand didn't come out without a few more layers of fabric to help the sand stay in. It was just a single layer of fairly thin unbleached cotton but was only used for one quick project (because it was so awful for lace making), so perhaps with more use the sand would have needed to be kept in with a few extra layers of fabric.

2. I've done exactly one project on that cookie pillow and I can already see the foam isn't going to last terribly long. I saw a video where someone said that an ethafoam cookie pillow might last you six months. But how much do you use it in that 6 months? So I don't think you're missing out. When it comes time to replace it I will probably try the layers of wool circles stacked ontop of each other.

3. I think of those lace pillows as failures mostly, so I guess I should be pleased that they at least look impressive when they are all together. I have yet to see how the big bolster goes, I just haven't had time for lace making lately.

I wouldn't have a clue how to get enough horse hair these days but it would be great to know if it worked!

I'm intrigued by your 'unnamed object' idea, so do let us know if you do remember.

You're most welcome :))

And since I'm a newbie as well I'm note quite sure about that maintenance - I've never read about the need for it, but it's also possible that this was so obvious to XIX people who made bobbin lace no one really thought about even mentioning it.

I believe there's some secret behind straw/hay filled pillows that isn't known to me, there must be something about the way you stuff it or they wouldn't be recommended so widely (note that those pillows were made for centuries and they must have been effective enough, or someone would replace hay with something different). But my recent experience made me want to keep away from that stuff anyway.

1. I'd never thought that sand could cause that much trouble, although I'd be afraid it would come out as you say, unless one would use sand with bigger grains (not the stuff you can find on a random beach, but something more on the lines with what they use for house building).

2. I'm even more surprised to hear that ethafom isn't the long lasting stuff - I mean there's no point in believing that it'll last for 30 years, but after what everybody's been telling me how wonderful this stuff is I'm quite shocked. I'm also going to try those layers of wool.

3. Ok, now my jaw dropped to the floor - I mean they look so great I would thought that all of them work great (I know, looks can be deceiving ;) ). About that big bolster - I've come to the conclusion that the fewer layers of... whatever you use as a stuffing the better - because if you use too much you'll end up with dreadful empty patches no matter what.

And since after that first pillow I really, REALLY NEVER. Want. Those. Again. I made another pillow - a small roller this time - it's about 30cms wide and about 9 cms in diameter. I used a woolen army blanket (hell yeah :> ) that I bought recently, it was made the same way that is described here http://www.lynxlace.com/makeapillow.html (and I would really like to thank the person who wrote it by the way, because it this isn't going to do the trick I don't know what will).

Anyway now I'm waiting for my uncle to get his act together and make me a box and that base (and now I'm also waiting for another shipping of plywood, as I'll be making a cookie pillow about 80cms in diameter as soon as I get my hands on the material, since I've still got 2 and 4/5 of those wool blankets ;) ).

That "unnamed object" was a piece of an old pvc pipe, a huge dog food can, some other cylindrical shapes that I saw somewhere on the other side of my garden, I'll have to search for them when I'll have enough of time...



I'm the person who wrote the pillow making page on lynxlace. That is my personal website.  I'm glad you found the instructions useful.

As to straw filling for a pillow. You are right, it was used for a long time so it must have worked. I've never made one with straw, but what I have heard is that the straw needs to be thoroughly dried out, and chopped into short lengths 2 to 3 inches long. You stuff it into the bag and pound each handful with a mallet. Some recommend baking it in the oven at a heat just high enough to kill whatever bug eggs might be stuck to the straw. Doris Southard reported laying the pillow in her driveway and driving over it with the car wheels several times to get it really firmly compacted. 

In the U.S. the material called Ethafoam, or polyethylene, is the long lasting stuff. I have used it for several pillows and they all have endured since the early 1980s. It is Styrafoam, poly styrene, which disintegrates. I have heard some discussion to the effect that different terms are used in Europe and England, but I don't know the truth of the matter.

I have made a large bolster (8 inches diameter, about 16 inches long) with sawdust. It also requires being constantly pounded with a mallet while constructing it. It is also useful to let it settle for a day and pound it some more. You need a really firm closely woven material to sew the cylindrical bag. I used pillow ticking. Then I also made a nice velveteen cover to go over that. If you use sawdust, I strongly recommend that you do it outdoors. I worked in my bedroom and coughed for weeks, even after carefully vacuuming. The sawdust gets into the air and slowly settles to the floor over hours and days.

If you use a hard object like a pipe or coffee can, you need to wrap it in enough layers of wool so that a pin stuck into it will have its whole depth in cloth. The pin shouldn't run into the hard object. The reason is that with some laces you stick the pins all the way in. Also such a pillow is easier to transport to meetings or lessons if the pins aren't sticking out.

Ah, I thought that was you :)) And I'm really thankful for that page as I find it to be very helpful in pillow making :) So keep it up!

About that straw - I chopped mine into pieces even shorter than two inches, but I suspect that this particular stuff isn't suitable for a pillow stuffing, because it consists of every thing that you can find growing on a field. Actually I had to pick out many hard pieces and tiny acacia branches and other hard stuff, so I was left with many unevenly hard and weird pieces.  I pounded my stuffing with a kitchen equivalent of a mallet, but I guess both stuffing and the cover weren't good enough for that project.

That nomenclature is mighty frustrating I agree - and that goes for all kind of styrofoams (because basically everything here is called that, and when it's not it got some weird, chemical name that can' really be found in any dictionary, be it a special one or ordinary if you get my meaning), glues, and resins (I make resin jewelery, but I've got no way to check how different is the stuff I'm using from that available in Western Europe or USA) and polymer clay. 

Hm, I've got no access to sawdust really, but if I would have any, I'd never try making this at home, due to the fact that if it's made of hardwoods it can cause cancer when it gets to one lungs (and since this stuff stays inside one it gets there till the end of one's life it's not really not cool).

I don't think I'd ever want to transport my pillow anywhere, but thank you for the tip, and thanks for such a long and detailed reply, I really appreciate that :*  

I've been really busy and there's so much to catch up on. 

I remember finding lynxlace and the instructions there too. Great site - thank you!

The main reason I've not been keen on a hay pillow is I get hay fever! So add the additional difficulties to it and I don't think its for me. 

This whole discussion has been really helpful and I'm really grateful to Selena for starting it and everyone else too. I think I would have made so many more mistakes and tried everything under the sun before getting it right without this discussion.

As for the different foams, Wikipedia gives all the scientific names for the different foams and I can go and look it all up again and share the links if anyone would like me to. 

I bow to our wonderful administrator's superior experience as to the lastingness of ethafoam because all I knew was what I saw on that one video and what I saw from my own pillow after one use. I know my cookie pillow has a layer of styrofoam on the bottom and the top layer is a denser shiner foam which I thought was ethafoam but I could be totally wrong about that. The pin holes seem to stay but I really haven't used it enough to see how it will perform with dense patterns and continued use. And like Karolina with her hay pillow, I worry I've got it all wrong and what I say might stop someone else from trying when it might actually work for them. 

I've been really happy with the wool ones. (My cotton towel under the wool layers meant that if pins had to be pushed all the way in the tips wouldn't hit anything hard if the wool layers were too shallow, hopefully the foam camping mat will work the same way.)

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