Search This Blog


Sequin Seahorse

I experimented with adding as many sequins as I could on my 'Adventurous Seahorse' design which is part of the 'Adventurous Aquarium' series of gifted patterns.

The idea for this collection of seaweed, fish, seahorses etc was to create pieces to follow on from the famous 'Springetts Snake' which introduces a selection of techniques in a wriggley snake shape.

When I think of a new technique, or fun way to bring lace to young person's attention as a form of art, I try to make the things that would have got my attention as an enthusiastic youngling crafter.  There is no right or wrong in the finished piece, only enjoyment and a hope that by encouraging young and new bobbin lace makers, lace can take it's place as a more mainstream craft, protecting it for the years to come.

For the pattern, see earlier posts on this blog, or visit my Lesley's Lace Group on facebook where the patterns are under the 'Files' tab.


 Another letter for my lace alphabet.  This one is heavy on the seed beading. 

Rather than make the long center bar in Milanese, which was my original intention, I used white pearl seed beads.  Initially only intended to make the center line in seed beads but as the bar widened, I kept adding more lines of beads.  Unfortunately, adding this many beads has weighted and warped the lace and there is no way of regaining the smooth lines of when it was still pinned to the pillow.  I doubt I could iron it, or even spray it because of the beads. 

To allow for sewing into the bars of the edge with the green thread, I reversed the pattern. I also experimented with different scroll techniques which I really need to practice!  
The beaded netting section proved tricky, had to feed four threads of the plait through the bead to join with the connecting plait. I used a 0.35 crochet hook. 

So far I have made A, B, S, O and N.  Wish I had chosen letters which would have made up a word!  Only another 21 letters to go. 

Celtic Art Nouveau

Mixing art styles as well as lace techniques, this design features Honiton 4 and 5 pin holes and Blossom ground.  A little sprinkle of Bedfordshire tally sprays and spiders, a touch of Muaiga magic and that's all there is to it!

A beautifully grained black walnut bowl provides the background, even though it does distort the lace a bit, well worth showing off such a lovely thing. 


This piece was made with six groups of bobbins, each of the three leaf tips started working in both directions.  For this I used a white Empress Egyptian machine quilting thread at around 28 wraps per centimeter, similar to DMC 80.

There were a lot of throwing out and throwing back in threads, so very hard to estimate the number of bobbins used in total, used around a caseful and a bit, so maybe about the 70 to 80 pair region.

The amount of over and underlaid crossings was fiddley, a lot of fine crochet hook work.  I used a non rotating pillow for a change and really missed being able to turn the pillow a bit to get the tensions under control a bit better.  

This is my original design which I painted onto slate quite a few years ago.  The crossings were much easier to paint than to make in lace!

Wriggley Ribbon

Although originally designed as more seaweed for the Adventurous Aquarium series, I  found this pattern was very handy for experimenting with in little sections of the ribbon like design to test colours, adding other craft materials and making demo videos.

The gentle wriggle of this design makes it ideal for Christmas decorations, long streamers in silver and sequins for a tree, little sparkly wriggles for festive earrings, little petals and leaves for flowers, a little versatile pattern designed to have fun with.  One of the wriggles is left blank for you to draw in your own choice of lace filling.  Ideal to test out a new stitch or different edging on a small sample piece.


Tally making for painful hands.

A question from a lacemaker who was struggling to learn how to make tallies because of the arthritis in her hands made me think about how I sometimes have to alter my way of making them when my poor old hands are too painful to use.  

Holding the spread of the passives under tension is key to shaping the tally when working on a flat pillow with Midlands (spangled) bobbins.  The 'roll in hand' method using continental bobbins on bolster pillows may be easier but I use neither of these.

This little video shows how I alternate with using the side of each hand with only one hand tensioning the worker and it's partner.  This method rests each hand in turn and does make tallies that little bit less painful.

Of course, once the warmer weather kicks in, and old bones warm up and respond more eagerly to lace making, tallies are added to the menu again and I jump back into making my favourite Cluny and Bedfordshire laces which are often full of tallies.

 Link to YouTube video of Tally making for Painful Hands

Block Pillow multi works in progress

 Block pillows are my favourite for many reasons. My first block pillow was donated to me years ago and it holds a special place in my heart as the one l learned all my laces on, hoping that the echo of the lacemaker who donated it was guiding my bobbins. 

I created several different shape blocks for different projects, my favourite being discs which l can turn as l work on small floral or tape laces without turning the pillow and disturbing my pin cushion etc. 

Putting aside one project to work on another always means having to store a pillow somewhere else, this is made so much easier by simply just removing the block with the work on, and replacing it for another project. 

This little video shows how l manage my work, and how you don't always need lots of pillows for different classes/projects being worked at the same time.

Painted Adventurous Seahorse.

Experimenting with my pattern for the Adventurous Seahorse, I changed the thread to white 28wpc Egyptian Cotton and increased the number of pairs used in the body as well as working a plait and picot zigzag along the back.

I kept the pattern very plain so I could see how/if the Inktense block paint would run and blend.  My previous experiments using the Inktense blocks worked well, but I wanted to see if it could be used for a full piece, rather than just spot colour on a finished piece of lace. 

Made in white specifically for painting. 

I risked applying the paint while the lace was still on the pricking.  No colour was visible on the back of the pricking thank goodness, and the pins were wiped clean and dry as soon as possible.  

This time, I used a larger brush and loaded it up with more paint.  This resulted in quite a strong colour being taken, despite the dilution.  Strangely enough, despite the extra amount of paint, the colours didn't always penetrate the full thickness and at the back of the piece, some white thread was still visible and the colours were paler.

The finished piece is painted while still on the pricking/pillow

To dry the piece of lace, I laid it onto a piece of kitchen roll, covered it with more kitchen roll and then ironed it till dry.  This helped to fix the paint, and also to keep the lace in shape as it would have curled and warped left to dry on its own.

I have previously handwashed a piece of Honiton lace I made, using the same thread and it ironed dry a little paler, but still coloured.  This piece, with the delicate zigzags, may not appreciate being washed so I am not going to wash this one.  It is for decorative, rather than wearing purposes.

A touch of variegation.

I maybe didn't make the most of the colours, I had intended to use paler jades, turquoise and pinks in more splotchy areas but the paint seemed to grab very quickly.  I suspect a much more diluted mix is needed.  

The coloured stripes could have easily been created using coloured passive threads with more control, however, this piece was primarily an experiment and it does sit very nicely with the other Adventurous Aquarium pieces.

See my earlier posts for the free pattern for the Adventurous Seahorse and other Adventurous Aquarium patterns. 

Paint used is Derwent Inktense Block paints. 

A Llacey Llama

Yes, I do know llama is pronounced 'yama', but in UK we pronounce it with an 'L'.  However, I could have used 'Llummy Llama' as a title which would be pronounced 'yummy yama'!😀

I suppose this could be called a multi media piece of bobbin lace.  Not only does it draw from a variety of bobbins lace making styles, it also uses paint, embroidery and tassel making.

I used an Ecru coloured thread, slightly thicker than I use to make my first pieces. This meant that the piece was larger to work on.  It only just fitted on the disc block of my pillow, part of one foot had to be made in the air which is a whole new way of making lace!

This piece was turned over before painting and adding tassels because there were a lot of threads thrown out along the top of the blanket.  The bead for the eye happily popped through the half stitch to change sides. 

This is fresh from unpinning, showing the disc block it was made on.

These are the paints I use to colour the lace.  To get lighter colours, simply dilute more.  These blocks don't seem to penetrate the thread and run, so they are ideal for small areas. They also didn't show as strong on the reverse.  The paints were handy to even out the colours along the top of the blanket where the ecru passives and workers were tinted to match the bands of different colour threads.

The final, and trickiest bit was making the tiny tassells for its head and the blanket edge.  I used leftover thread and sewed the tassel to the lace.  On the face, I embroidered chain stitch to make it's halter with the same thread as the tassel.  

Tiny Honeycomb Heart

I originally designed this little heart to use up the threads left on my bobbins after making larger patterns.  It soon became a project in it's own right when l used different fillings, passive stitches, edges and threads. Keeping to the same 4cm outline pricking, it became a handy way of experimenting with different ways to fill a small, curved shape.

The Honeycomb ground filling is based on approx a 60 degree grid. This is a six sided grid instead of the 4 sided Torchon style grid.  I like to use half stitch and twist, pin, half stitch and twist, which creates two twists after the cross instead of the usual one.  This gives an even hole surround to the honeycomb holes.  This can be varied by using different combinations like two extra twists on the legs or around the pin, for a different effect.  Well worth experimenting with this very useful ground.

Honeycomb is made by working one part of the stitch on the first row, then on the return, the second part of the stitch. 

On this little heart pattern, the edge pins cannot line up exactly with the honeycomb grid, so you have to use some artistic licence. Offer the pair to the first available pin, and then to the next one along to see which looks best.  Remember, you may need the next pinhole for the next row, so that is something else to consider.  

Near to the edge, where there may be a very close line of honeycomb stitches, you can choose to miss these out and stretch the honeycomb to reach the edge, or work them to keep the ground close to the edge.

Curvy edges create the need to add, throw out, and carry pairs.  This means the edge should be able to hide them as you go along to avoid knots.  Cloth stitch passives are the most forgiving.   Work the edge passives and pick up the pair you want to carry or remove, continue to cloth stitch through these and work the outer edge pin.  

To 'bounce' a pair off the edge - Work the pin and either swap the worker with the ground pair, or return the pair to the ground after working the pin. 
To carry a pair- Work it in with the passives till the pair is at the pin where you want it to re-enter the ground.  This makes a slight difference in the thickness of the edge so you don't want to carry too many extra pairs.  

To remove a pair after working it into the passives from the ground - Pick the second and fourth bobbin from the outer passives (making sure they are the ones that don't show the worker underneath when you lift them, if they do, choose the third and fifth bobbin)  and lay these back by lifting them upwards and lying them above your work so they don't get in your way.    
Don't cut these off yet, if you have made a mistake, you can reverse your work and pop them back into place, but once cut off, you don't have this option. 

I made this large heart with crochet thread 20 to make it easier to see during a live pillow in a zoom group.  


Test before Investing in a Bolster Pillow

Two pairs of lovely Duchesse bobbins came into my possession which created a need to try out a bolster pillow.  All the sawdust and cutting straw put me off making one so I made this bolster pillow just to try out my 2 pairs with a little 2 pair pattern.  

It is not meant to be passed down the generations, or to do more than satisfy my curiosity as to whether I want to go down the path of using small numbers of bobbins and making tape laces, or do I stick with my favourite block pillows and loads of Midlands bobbins. 

Kitchen roll, cotton fabric, boiled wool blanket, pins.

Wrap the kitchen roll tightly in two or three wraps of the blanket, cutting the edge to the same width as the kitchen roll.  Tension and pin the end, sew to secure and remove pins.
Cut fabric to leave 6 to 8 inches over at each side, wrap around tightly and turn under the edge along the roll, pin in place.  I didn't plan to make lace over the pinned area, if you do, then simply sew this edge the same way as the blanket.  
Gather the excess fabric at one end, twist it around tightly and push it down into the centre of the roll.  
Stuff the fabric down into the roll by using up any scrap blanket trim, or socks, or similar to add weight to the roll, and to secure the ends.
At one end I squeezed in a small pin cushion, just the right size!  
Sit the bolster in a box, or roll a towel or blanket to make a long sausage and wrap it around to make a nest for the pillow to sit in. 
I drew a quick tester pattern for using the two pairs of bobbins I have, this was just to see how they handled. 
They behaved quite well.  Keeping track of 4 bobbins was easy enough.  The creases on the edge of the roll worked to hold the bobbins when I placed them over the sides. 
I tried a little bit with the bolster up on it's end. 
My little piece of tester two pair lace.  So far so good.  It feels strange to be a beginner again and have to learn how to handle bobbins in such a different way. 
This bolster pillow can be unwrapped, fabric reused, and the kitchen towel (although a little fluffier for being stabbed with pins) can be put to it's normal use.  A good way to test before investing.  

Shivery Squirrel

My word but it was cold this morning!  
I took my 'fresh off the pillow' squirrel into the garden so I could take it's photo against the dark green leaves of our Bay tree.  With the help of a handy twig, I held it up to take a photo, but by this time, I was shivering, so was the little stick!   My mobile phone did it's best and I raced back inside the house to see if I had managed a shot.  Not willing to go back outside and set up for a shot again, I deemed this to be as good as it gets for a one shot wonder, it shows enough for you to get the idea.

This little piece of lace is a true 'Muaiga' piece, I blended a Torchon fan in the face, a bit of Honiton in the big leaves, used a few bar joins from my recent play with Idrija lace, and scattered all over with bits of Cluny and Bedfordshire.   

Not being sure if the mass of plaits in the tail would hold up to being handled, I damped it down on the pillow and let it dry before unpinning it, ironed it and only then did I dare take it outside.  Because of the damp climate I live in, a piece of lace will soon droop when taken outside so I do only get one or two tries at taking a photo before it droops.


Single thread Picot Video

Single Thread Picot on YouTube

I made this video to remind myself a much as anything. A couple of times I have had to look up, or ask how to make, these little picots!

These single thread picots are very handy when making a plait which needs to stay in a curved shape ( a two thread picot usually gives a sharp bend to a plait). Also used for making crescent leaf tallies, and can be used multiple times along a plait without creating much disturbance to the appearance of the plait. When using thick thread, a two pair picot will be quite a large one. The single thread picot can be used around a fine pin, and doesn't need the twists to make it work as only one thread goes around the pin.

Single thread picot are handy when using thicker thread to avoid a large picot made when using the two loop method. Although this produces a single thread loop, two threads are used. patterns available at https//

Warm Coat and Hat

 Just for fun, I recreated this little Christmas tree decoration in lace.

Dipping a toe into the world of tape laces, I made a tester piece before trying out a design of my own. There is a bit of 'Muaiga' lace involved, as there usually is when I make a piece of lace! (Made Up As I Go Along)

The 'wriggle' I drew freehand.

The main technique, I think, is to work the curves without pins on the inside, using turning stitches instead. This means the tensions have to be kept under control or the curves soon become uneven.

The curves are held in place with edge stitches being twisted around pins halfway between the outer and the nearest other edge pin. This is done in advance and picked up when the other side of the join is working an edge stitch to sew into the waiting one.

Because of the multiple twists, and the longer length of the loop, this is much easier to sew into than a standard edge hole. I used both crochet hook and eyes out tool, both worked as easily as each other.

The main difficulty with this wriggly style lace is to keep the pins already in the work covered while the pattern is turned around many times, keeping the tape facing downwards maintain tension.

The hands and feet are made with leaf tallies using the two edge pairs.  They work out as a tally, then turn with a cloth stitch around the pin, and work a plait back to the edge.  Work a cloth stitch around the same pin, then continue working.  

At the edge of the hat, having worked the first two rows, I used two passives in a plait to join the second row to the first.  Work through the passives and back to get the worker higher up the edge and work half stitch with extra pairs added along the edge of the brim.  At the far side, add 4 pairs, this is 3 passives and an extra worker pair to make the two pair edge.   

Tie a knot at the top, cut and leave a tassel.   I

This is an experimental piece, being my first in this style of lace, so there will be much better solutions for some of the workarounds I have used.  There is so very much to learn!  I perused Idrija lace to find some of the techniques and, in time, will have a better understanding of this versatile lace.  

Mad Calm Quilt

I started by using up old scraps of fabric, then I was buying more fabric to cut up, only to sew it all back together...madness!    
Using the 'crazy log cabin' style l made a blocks now and again, added a layer of microfibre fleece and backing fabric before oversewing around the square spiral to create the same spiral pattern on the back.  Amazingly, thanks to investing in rotary cutters, cutting mats and quilting rulers, it all lined up perfectly. 
The little puzzle ball is made from scraps.  Quite ingenious how all the pieces fit together.  


Sequin Fish

The Adventurous Aquarium is growing!

This fish sparkles with sequins, beads and thread, there should be enough glitter for the magpie in all of us!  

I chose to make a chevron edge on this version of the Sequin fish but the chevron can easily be replaced with adding extra passive pairs, sparkly ones would be good. 

I chose silver sequins and I worked them with 4 pairs of Gütermann silver glitter thread. When adding the sequins, the pairs from each side do not cross over each other in the middle.  Work them with one pair at a time.  The left pair sews through the centre, then returns to the left side, and the right to the right.  Place a pin in the centre of the sequin so the tensioning of the sequin thread does not disturb the equal distribution of the sequins. On a larger area of sequin ground, this is quite important. 

4 pairs of silver for adding the sequins (when cut off, they are reused for the tail sequins so wrap more thread on one bobbin than the other).  

4 pairs of Perle 8 in two contrasting colours for the chevrons. Simply increase the passives if you don't want to do the chevrons. 

6 short pairs to add in for the passives in the fins. 

4 pairs passives (placed on each side of the chevron threads)

4 pairs of workers

There are tutorials for the chevron edge, adding sequins and beads on my youTube channel.

Triangle Tree

 Another pattern to play with.  I used honeycomb for the filling with two twists throughout the ground.  You could work this without the twists around the pin, and add sequins or larger beads.  I used a thicker thread and made the passives quite tight to make the edges stiffer.  Using a neutral ecru thread for the two pair edge to avoid interfering with the ombre effect of the three green shades of the passives.  

Roseground Bracelet

This is a version of the Beaded Bracelet in an earlier post which uses the same loop and button fastening and the same way of adding and throwing out the threads.  In place of the beads, I used a roseground stitch in two shades of pink.  

Roseground is a very versatile stitch with over a dozen versions.  In this piece, the colours change places depending on whether you choose half stitch or cloth stitch, and if you start with the threads in different places etc.  The roseground section could have just been made in one colour.   The 'rose' is the fancy circle in the middle, at the sides, there are half roses.  Due to the stitches I chose for this piece, the colours stood out in a bell shape at first sight, totally unexpected but quite a nice touch for this bracelet.  
The passive and roseground threads were two different sizes, this is not important, they could have easily swapped places and made just a slight difference to the piece.  The worker pairs are a standard Egyptian Cotton machine quilting thread of about 27-30 wraps per centimeter.  Using a finer thread for the workers makes the stripe of passive colours on the edges show up better.  

 I do like the idea that lace makers will have a play with my designs and use different threads to create another version.  Not everything has to be in white!

Video tutorial on my Youtube channel.


Leaf Tally Fish

 Leaf Tally Fish, a new addition to the Adventurous Aquarium. Print out at A4. Add pairs for the fins and for the inside edge passives of the tail.  I use mostly Egyptian cotton, machine quilting thread in a variety of colours.  They measure about 27 to 30 wraps per centimeter.   

The leaf tallies can be replaced with a standard crossing of plaits, or make a small half stitch or cloth stitch bud (circle) in the middle where the threads would normally cross.  This is a good way to make patterns where the amount of leaf tallies puts you off, the 'bud' works with pairs or plaits entering it.  You can see how this works in the little fish I made to use up some thread ends.  

Video on how to measure wraps per centimeter and my other video tutorials here...

Pattern prints at A4

Thread end fish, using chevron stitch on the edges, and buds in the body.  

Beaded Bracelet in Bobbin Lace

My new Beaded Bracelet pattern introduces a few new techniques which are also shown as videos on my YouTube channel.  The beaded bracelet pattern can be altered to create matching earrings, pendant and necklace.  To make it you need 10 pairs of bobbins, small beads, and a full rainbow of coloured threads.
The pattern is printed as an extra long bracelet, it can be tailored to fit by cutting the pattern in half in the middle and lining up the beads to shorten as much as you wish.  To lengthen it, simply print two copies, and insert an extra length in the middle.
If using thinner threads than recommended, add more passive pairs, if using a thicker thread, use fewer passive pairs.  Keep the worker pair around the 22-30 wpc size. 

This pattern prints out at A4 size. 


Tally Star Muaiga lace

Teeny owls checking out the new Christmas Star fresh of my pillow.   I used a few new techniques and enjoyed the challenge of figuring out all those crossing trails.  Not really a single lace style because l had to mix parts up to get the result l wanted so again, it's a "Muaiga"  (made up as l go along) piece of lace rather than pure Bedfordshire or Cluny.   
70 pairs approximately used for this one, l do enjoy having a pillow full of white wound Parsons bobbins to work with.   


Moving pictures!

Moving pictures, how very modern!   I have had a go at making some youtube videos to help with making my seahorse and, hopefully, other beginner patterns.

Play with a fishy template

Continuing with the aquarium theme, l drew an ellipse shape to make into fishes.  Threw in seed beads, chevron braids, sequins and a variety of stitches to create these four fish.  



Bobbin Lace Aquarium

 Thank goodness l finished the seaweeds at last.  My seahorses were floating around all over the place😄  

Curly seaweed is made with random seed beads along the edges and the fronds feature chevron stitches.  

I made lots of leaves over the years, using up left over thread after big projects to test out new stitches and edges.  I thought they would work well as little fish for this aquarium photo.