Wednesday 12 June 2024

Raised work in Bedfordshire bobbin lace


There are several methods of producing raised work in lace, but here I’m just looking at those used in Bedfordshire bobbin lace. This type of lace is made face upwards (unlike Honiton lace which is made face downwards) so any raised areas have to be worked above the main pattern rather than worked underneath and then covered by the main design. The first step in making the solid, thin, raised leaves that lie above the open, wider, half-stitch leaf in the image above is to lift two pairs from the main half-stitch area and set them aside. The half-stitch leaf is then continued until the length required for the stalk for the raised motif has been reached. The stalk is then worked by plaiting above the main lace and the bobbins used to make it then rejoin the main work. In the next row, four pairs of bobbins are put aside to work the pair of leaves. The half-stitch base is continued and the leaves are made and then the bobbins rejoin the main work, and so on, until the motif is complete. The stalks and leaves will be loose above the main work, but attached at both ends so they are secured.

Another method of producing raised areas is by working raised tallies, which are the 'blobs' seen on the leaf in the image above. Tallies are woven areas that are usually square in shape (tallies pointed at both ends are known as leaves). To make a raised tally, the two pairs needed for the work are lifted from the main design and are then woven to make a long tally. This strip is then looped over a horizontal pin to keep it raised and the bobbins returned to work the underlying cloth stitch. A pin is often used in the middle of the work to keep the tally tightly looped until enough rows have been worked beneath it to keep it in place.

A different way of introducing raised work into Bedfordshire bobbin lace is to make a completely separate area of lace and attach it to the main work later. In this image you can see that the four petals on the top right hand flower are raised like a flap over the flower beneath. They were worked separately using the pricking for the larger piece of lace and then sewn in place once the main piece of lace had been completed.

The raised areas can be any part of the pattern, worked separately, and later sewn in place. While those raised areas made as the work progresses can be leaves, tallies or simple plaiting worked over cloth or half stitch. Why do lacemakers raise areas of the work anyway? Probably because it gives the lace a slightly three dimensional appearance and depth that is not seen with flat pieces, and just adds a bit of interesting detail.

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