Bedfordshire Bobbin Lace Handkerchief

Bedfordshire Lace Handkerchief
Bedfordshire lace is one of the later laces, developed around 1850, in response to encroaching competition from lacemaking machines. Since Bedfordshire lace uses plaited connections between design elements, instead of a point ground, it is much faster to work by hand than older bobbin laces.

It is similar in many ways to Maltese lace and Cluny lace. This isn't surprising, since all three laces were developed at around the same time, for similar reasons. However, Bedfordshire allows the designer much more latitude to make use of flowing curves and floral elements than Maltese or Cluny lace. Traditionally, Bedfordshire lace was made in very fine linen thread, but many fine designs are made today using fine cotton thread, since it is easier to come by and use, cheaper, and available in finer weights than linen.

I bought this pattern from Christine Springett in England. She refers to this pattern as a 'Mixed Lace', because it incorporates traditional Bucks Point fillings. However, I consider it classically Bedfordshire, and very Victorian in character. I enlarged the pricking approximately 20% and used 100/2 Fresia linen lace thread. Springett patterns are a great way to start out making Bedfordshire lace, because they are accompanied by clear working diagrams.

The only difficult part about this pattern was determining how many pairs to send to the outer trail and how many to send to the inner trail. I kept getting this wrong. Luckily, it is very easy to fix mistakes in Bedfordshire lace. When it became clear that one of the trails had too many pairs and the other not enough, I simply pulled back a pair from the too dense trail, went around a few of the holding pins to create slack, and dropped the bobbins into the too thin trail. Later, I simply clipped the thread ends short. Bedfordshire trails hold the threads in tightly enough that you never need to darn in ends. After a few repeats, I began to remember how many pairs belonged to each trail.

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