Bedfordshire Lace - From the Thomas Lester Collection

By Jane

As I was born in Kempston, on the outskirts of Bedford I chose this piece which has the typical characteristics of Bedfordshire Lace.  It is a challenging piece to work as there is no ground to support the pattern.  Bedfordshire lace is classically worked on a 45 degree grid.  Although in this piece the trail is worked at 45 degrees to the direction of growth, the vine leaves are not a normal filling between the trails that tend to sweep through the pattern (sometimes called "running rivers") and this makes the piece more interesting and unusual.  In this piece the vine leaves are worked at approximately 60 degrees, making the piece more challenging as it is difficult to make an even flow of pairs of bobbins in and out of the pattern.

The pattern was an original from the Cecil Higgins Art Gallery and was digitally enlarged to the size required for the chalice cloth and then pricked onto card.  The orignal patterns were incomplete and some interpolation was required in order to be able to work the lace completely.

Pricking Out

The picture shows the digitally enlarged pattern being pricked while on holiday in the Isle of Skye.  The blue film was used to stick the pattern to the pricking card, while the blue colour helps with the visibility of the threads and saves marking up the pricking card.

Pricking was surprising short at around 2 hours and once complete the pattern was then transferred to the pillow for working.

Starting the Piece

The lace is worked in Campbells Irish Linen 100 count.  This thread suited the size of the pricking pattern and the thickness of this thread adds body to the finished lace. 

Starting the piece took several attempts to get the angle of working right as there are no instructions - the only clues were the pricking itself and a photograph of someone else's interpretation of the piece - which might or might not be correct!

This picture shows the piece having just been started.

Cantium Lacemakers - working to keep the traditional art of lacemaking alive
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