Wednesday 14 May 2014

making lace

It's been years since I properly made some lace. The last time would have been sometime in 2006, just before packing my bags and heading off to University. There was barely room in my broom-cupboard sized study bedroom for my knitting needles and yarn. Needless to say, my bulky lace-making equipment was packed away for another day.

In between the rain showers this week-end, I snatched some time out in my parent's garden to get out my pillow again and throw some bobbins around. 

Traditional bobbin lace uses fine threads wound around wooden bobbins and much repetitive labour to produce fabric of great intricacy.

Lace-making is truly a labour of love. To craft even the most simple length of trimming requires great doses of patience and concentration.

Progress is slow, sometimes less than a quarter of an inch per hour, depending on the intricacy of the design, the fineness of the threads. 

From the pricking to the winding of the bobbins and finally to actually making the lace, seeing a design slowly unfold on the pillow is always a source of great joy. Thread by thread, pin by pin, the beauty of the lace reveals itself little by little. 

On-going studies at the Harvard Medical Institute for Mind and Body Medecine indicate that repetitive activities such as lace-making elicit the "relaxation response" which alleviates stress and allows the brain to set aside intrusive thoughts.

In the same way knitting and spinning seem to magically calm me, I felt the beneficial effects as soon as I picked up my bobbins again. Working at my pillow, I could feel weeks and months of stresses and strains fall away as soon as I methodically worked through the design.

I do hope that this time, I'll be able to find space for my bobbins and pillow when I head back to France in a while...

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