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Lace for Eleanor

Submitted by Katherina Weyssin on May 8, 2012 - 8:53pm

Parasole, page 36r, 18 bobbins


Bobbin-lace made to decorate Eleanor Hall's new Venetian gown, in return for which she will make a brocaded tablet-woven band for the hat I bought from Samantha at Canterbury Faire.

Eleanor's dress doesn't need a lot of lace - just enough for a single band around each bicep, under the puffed shoulders. Preliminary measurements says this will be about 80cm, but I won't finish the ends of the lace until the dress is made, and the required length certain.

I took samples to A&S Sunday, and to my delight Eleanor chose the pattern I'd hoped she would, a pointed "Christmas tree" design from Isabetta Catanea Parasole's pattern book.

This pattern uses 18 bobbins, and I've scaled it up somewhat from the original to suit the thread I'm using and the final purpose.

I wove it in Gutterman linen sewing thread, using a mixture of spangled and continental bobbins, on a rectangular pillow stuffed with fabric scraps. Is started by winding about 1-1.5m onto each bobbin; and I had to add more thread to all but one of the bobbins to complete 80cm of lace.

I'm pleased with the result: the pattern has come up well, and I like the way each point curves and twists slightly, giving the finished lace a three-dimensional element.


ParasoleScanThe pattern as it appears in Parasole's book. Scan from the facsimile here. This pattern appears on page 36r (page 15 in the pdf "Parasole B"), arranged vertically in the right-hand margin.

Parasole18patternThe pattern I used to create the pricking for Eleanor's lace. It's a manually scaled-up copy of that in Parasole, drawn on 5mm graph paper, about 2.5 times the size of the original.

The original was not only too fine for the thread I used, it was too small to allow my pins, which has lead me to surmise that many of Parasole's patterns were intended to be scaled up for use.

The line along the bottom is not used in my final lace (see image above): initially I thought there was a twisted pair there, but I couldn't find a way to make the rest of the pattern work using only the 18 bobbins specified without losing this.

You can just see the pin-holes on the full-sized image (click on the thumbnail).

coloured diagram_1_2numbered prickingTwo more diagrams, which I made primarily so I would remember how I worked the lace. The coloured diagram shows which stitch I used where (not shown in Parasole's original patterns; so there are a number of ways you could reconstruct this); the other shows the order in which I find it most convenient to place the pins.

Should I make this lace gain, I'll make the top pair of "arms" on the tree a little shorter, and the central "spire" a little taller, to better match Parasole's pattern and to give each point a slightly taller, more slender profile.


PrickingretouchedA scan of my pricking - the actual pattern used when working the lace. I've re-touched the colours to make the holes easier to find.

Printing the image at full size should give you a useable pattern.

Samples and experiments

sample My first attempts at working this lace.

The repeat on the left uses 18 bobbins (as Parasole specified), but lacks the bar running through the centre  of the large oval under the point. The repeat on the right adds a pair of bobbins to complete the pattern. In the lace I worked for Nicola I included the extra pair of bobbins at the centre, but omitted the twisted pair at the base, thus bringing the total back to 18.

Worked lace


A scan of the finished lace, ready to go onto Eleanor's gown. Eleanor is now planning to make her gown in red silk, which will highlight the lace beautifully.

I've now experimented with some other linen thread - Bockens thread in several weights, as well as Gutermann - and have confirmed my suspicion that the finish on the Gutermann thread makes it too stiff to sit well in cloth stitch. Luckily, the sections of cloth stitch are too small in this pattern for it too be a significant problem.

My other lace patterns, and things I've written about lace for this website.

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