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Narrow insertion lace

20 bobbins; original 13mm wide (samples at 14mm and 11mm), samples worked in 35/2 linen thread

A fairly simple, narrow insertion, using 20 bobbins, based on Met 20.186.88 (see

The original lace is bright golden yellow. I don't know if it's linen or silk. I'd like to try it in heavy yellow linen.

This pattern works up very quickly - about 8 minutes a repeat for me.

Printable prickings (pdf). 14mm wide and 11mm wide.


sample1I worked my first sample at 14 mm wide (very close to original size) in Bockens 35/2 white linen. This gave a slightly less dense effect than the original, particularly through the cloth-stitch square. 

sample2For my second sample I altered the pattern a little: narrowed the diamonds, stretched the sections between them, moved a few pins a little. I also scaled it down, and worked in the same thread as the first, but at 11mm wide instead of 14. I'm much happier with the density of the cloth stitch diamonds this time, and with the overall coverage of the pattern.

WorkingYellowInsertionI made a longer length in at the original size in heavier yellow thread (stranded linen embroidery floss, three strands at a time).I've tweaked the pattern yet again, very slightly.

CroppedWorkingYellowThe embroidery thread is ok to work with, though separating the strands took a while. The colour is a bit anaemic, especially compared to the rich gold of the original piece, so I'll probably dye the finished piece. The agitation needed to dye the lace will probably simulate several washings, so I'll be able to see if that makes the pin-holes disappear. This lace seems sturdy enough to take quite a beating.

I used 3.2 metres of thread on each bobbin; which gave 1.9m of finished lace.yellowinsertionscan

This third pattern is the one I've given above. I'm content with this, and unlikely to revise it further.

Notes on constructing the pricking

I used my usual process:

  • import the image from the museum website into Inkscape (my usual graphics program)
  • adjust the photo until the lace is shown at life-size
  • overlay lines until I understand the paths the threads take
  • overlay dots to make a pricking pattern
  • choose a single repeat, and make it neat and symmetrical
  • duplicate that repeat, produce a strip formatted for A4

And, as is now familiar, I went through my usual set of refinements after I'd thought the pattern done:

  • My first attempt tends to be rigidly geometric: useful in understanding the structure of both lace and design. Almost inevitably, I realise that the original lace is not quite so geometric, and that allowing a few junctions to drift from the strictly triangular will give a more elegant shape, and so on.
  • No single repeat is perfectly representative: any pricking derived from one repeat can require a little scaling once the whole strip is in place.
  • As I work the sample first I often realise I'm not using all of the dots for pins.
  • I usually make my sample at the same scale as the original, and work it using the the thread I have. Sometimes, this means that the balance between thread weight and pattern size is neither good nor accurate. Once I've tried the pattern at original size, I'll scale it to suit the thread I have.

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