I would like to start a good discussion of the pros and cons of the different types of bobbins. 

Now I realize that different types of lace use different types of bobbins; that some in fact require a certain style.  However, the reality I've seen is that people like a certain style and make all their lace with those bobbins.

Would people please share/review the type of bobbins they prefer and why.

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Many people seem to think that rolling is a bad thing in a bobbin. I think it is an advantage of a bulbed bobbin. You can move across a row of them dismissing the used ones with a flick of your hand and they obediently roll away. They operate like little pendulums.

Well, I've now made three things with the spangled bobbins.  I'm surprised at how, even with the same type of bobbin, the different style heads make a difference.  There are a couple that the threads just keep slipping out of the hitch groove while others have been super nice.   Also, Marie is right when she pointed out that some of those lovely bone bobbins with all the carvings look cool, but are murder on the hands; like sand paper.

I do love how many bobbins I can fit on a pillow with the spangled Midlands.  I didn't realize how frustrating the larger ones can be in that regard until I found myself not needing to find a place to get them out of the way.  I also haven't had any trouble making sewings with them.  Not any more than with the large bobbins.

I wish I could find some Squares to try out, but at this point I may just invest in the Midlands so I can get them spangled and in use ASAP.   *laugh*  Dear Santa...

Hi  All

 I want to remind you why we have so many kinds of bobbins, I think it is because of all of the different kinds of lace and pillows.I think each kind bobbin and pillow was developed  for the lace it was making.I do not think you would  use Hinton bobbins with hands up on a bolster pillow. I think each lace maker must think of the lace and pillow she is making and use the bobbin that works for her.

 I will make a suggestion that I found works for me , I make a lot of yardage in point ground and I love to use travel size midland bobbins on  my roller pillows. I find because they are shorter than full size midlands  I have more thread to work with. I have also found a long neck midlands bobbin that I use for gimp because it holds a lot of gimp thread and they stand out on my pillow.

 Just try bobbins that work for the lace you are making and that work with your style of handling the bobbins.

 Happy lace making,




I use modern Danish bobbins for just about everything.  I started with those because they are relatively cheap, and I have never had lots of money to throw around.  They work well for the thread sizes I like best -- linen 40/2, 60/2, tatting cotton.  They are even OK for Retors 30 (or equivalent).  During a brief period when I did have some extra money I bought a bunch of midlands bobbins and spangled them.  I used them for one project and they drove me nuts.  The spangle rings kept flopping around.  But I acknowledge that this is probably a matter of not being accustomed to using them.  

Robin have you tried making tap/braid lace with spangled bobbins?  I can see one or 2 sewings not being a probem.  But if I were making sewings every row I wouldn't want to be using spangled bobbins.  Spangled ones certainly are pretty.

If Bayeux bobbins had been readily available in the U.S. when I started I might have started with those.  I think they are the most graceful looking.  But they are a little more expensive than Danish and the neck is a bit small for the threads I like to use.

I suppose the important thing is to buy bobbins that fit with your favorite thread.  Belgian torchon or Swedish bobbins for 40/2 linen if you are making yardage and want LOTS of thread to fit on the neck.  More delicate Antwerp, Binche or Bayeux for finer threads, finer than tatting cotton.  Midlands bobbins also have a shallow neck, which makes them suitable for fine threads.

Like Devon, I don't find the rolling to be a problem.  I also use it for speed.  But I have some square bobbins and those work just as well.  They don't roll, but they do slide almost as fast.


As a Flemish lace maker I enjoyed reading your comments on which bobbins to use. Each one had a good reason but there are rules we apply to use the right bobbin for the right lace.

 I agree that one should feel comfortable about using a certain kind of  bobbins. The ones we learn with are mostly the ones we prefer. However it is not always the form that counts but the WEIGHT of the bobbin.

If you use a Torchon bobbin to make a much finer lace the weight of the bobbin shall break your thread.- On the other hand if you have a large amount of bobbins on your pillow  you shall see that the heads of the bobbins use space and annoy. (Finer laces require not so much thread space and lots of bobbins so you should use bobbins with a smaller head and lesser weight. A torchon bobbin weighs about 4 gram and the ones I use for  finer laces only 1 gr.

It also depends on the wood used. Then there is the lower side.. If you need to attach  non continious  lace threads.. then it is useful to use a pointed bobbin  for easy  going through the loops.

Thicker threads need thicker bobbins but the tension is also given bij the weight of the bobbin.. If you use thick very light bobbins your thread cannot have the right tension unless you keep pulling but then you wear out your thread.  

About rolling...  I  personally think that Square bobbins are an invention of a person not practicing lace the right way. 

In older books I have never seen such a model nor read about it and it has never been used here  by native lacemakers for as far as my knowledge reaches. .. (I sometimes used one to identify my gimp ;.when working and not looking.)

I also like the looks of some.. They are in fact for me and lacemaker friends collector's items.  

Normally a bobbin should roll.. Think that the  early lacemakers of very fine laces  had to work fast and the bobbins had no time to roll far. See  pillows with more than 500 bobbins all attached but they only uses a few 30 to 50 .. Nowadays we hardly do not see that large amount of bobbins used anymore by most hobby lacemakers - an exception is some older very experieced lacemakers of fine laces.

The problem  of rolling is also that a very large amount of threads  for sale NOW, are twisted WRONGY for the rolling of the bobbins.. (I guess a question of price)  Therefore some thread merchants try to sell ,telling lacemakers to pick up the bobbin and lay it down flat.. so using square bobbins when lacemakers are not happy with  unwinding and then breaking threads. .

Sorry but picking up and laying down in slow motion,  that is in fact a wrong techniek for lacemaking. One should pick up and while putting them down it should be in a way  so they could roll  further away while grabbing the next two.. When working that way - it has a rhytm.

Children used to learn on Lacemakers music.

I have also experienced that on a FLAT pillow the bobbins sometimes also go where I do not want them to go.. rolling.. On a flat pillow the tension cannot be respected. and that is because the bobbins do not hang.  

.I can go on explaining why lacemakers used the tools they had.. They knew what to use and we are here trying to find the right bobbin... The variety  of bobbins 100 yrs ago  was not so immense big. Lacemakers usually made one kind of lace repeately and only needed one size of bobbin and thread  for the same lace they made.. This could be a little  different from region to region.

 Lacemaking  is now a hobby and the result counts.  I have seen lovely work done and it surprises me at times to understand the nice results with what we should call wrong equipment. 

Just keep enjoy lacemaking and use whatever you choose.. Just keep in mind when problems arrise that it can be caused by your materials.

Nice lacemaking




Administrator said:

I prefer continental bobbins of any kind, but mostly I use modern Danish because they are relatively inexpensive. And as you say, they are what I learned on, so I'm comfortable with them.  I did take a Bedfordshire and a Bucks point workshop many years ago, bought a bunch of English and spangled them.  Used them for those workshops.  They drove me nuts.  They are so slender they are harder to pick up, and the spangles flopped around and usually ended up on the pillow upside down.  They are very pretty to look at.  But by the time spangling is done, the cost per bobbin becomes rather high.  For me that has been a serious matter, most of the time.  I do have some square continentals, the 4.25 inch long kind.  They are attractively shaped and don't roll.  I like them well enough, but don't plan to go out and spend hundreds to acquire a huge number.  When I have a project requiring lots, I use my Danish ones.  The Danish are also good for tape lace and macro-Honiton.  The pointed ends don't interfere with sewings, and they hold enough thread to make a tape lace edging without difficulty.  The clunky torchon style Belgian bobbins are good for projects where I'm using 40/2 linen, which is quite thick and needs a large neck to store lots of thread.

But I know well that lace makers tend to prefer whatever they learned on, and accommodate themselves to whatever drawbacks there may be.  By accident I came across a website with plain square continentals at $16.99 for 24.


I have also learned to use the rolling of the bobbins as an asset when I'm doing tallies.  I use what I call the flick-flick method, where I roll the weaver and beater bobbins from side to side, flicking them with my thumbnail.  The squares do flick OK, but I haven't tried that with spangled bobbins.

Your point about the size of the bobbin's head is well taken. I hadn't thought of that -- for laces with lots of bobbins, you want narrow heads, so they fit next to each other better.

These spangled bobbins are my own that i spangled myself will a limitless supply of beads.

A lady told me just to get them as they were the only ones to choose from at the time and i was so lucky to get them, a local craft shop called Hands sold them, i was so so surprized. If i wanted to do Honton lace or any other that needs differnt bobbins i would of had to of sent away for the bobbins. Sometimes the spangles get caught up with eachother and i wish i had these smooth wooden bobbins you see, but i'm sure its because of half the beads i choose.

The square ones are now my favorites.  I have plenty of the other kinds to including my spangles which are in a different category anyway.

Simon Purple said:

I love my square bobbins. They don't roll and they're easy to move around the pillow. I tried to go back to some Danish bobbins for a project, and they were AWFUL. They were rolling all over the place, and when I tried to move a group, they all rolled.

The only problem I have with continental bobbins is that some of my threads become untwisted after a while because of the rolling.  I'm thinking about switching to the square ones because of this.  I haven't tried spangles but I see too many cons for me to really want to give them a try even though they can be very pretty.

I find that my bobbins will come untwisted even with the square ones.  What I find that helps is when you go to twist it first before you put it on the bobbin to hold it, I always twist it two or sometimes three times instead.  It depends on the thickness of the thread.  Another thing someone told me is to put like a row of cotton thread on it first, and then wind on the thread your going to use.  It like holds it in place better.  Hope this helps...


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