I found an old book about needle lace making recently. In the list of tools and equipment, it mentioned that a drum shaped lace pillow is a handy thing to have, as it allows you to support the work while still being able to use both hands.
Now I know that is obvious, but I hadn’t thought of it that way. I used to have a lace pillow, but I got rid of that when I found that I can’t get on with bobbin lace. I can set it up, & get started, and each time I think this will be the time I can make some progress. Then I put it aside carefully at the end of the session. When I go back to it, somehow the whole thing is a terrible muddle, and I can’t get started with it again.
Anyway, that pillow was a dome shape, so all the bobbins hung nicely and kept the thread under tension as work progressed. A drum sounds a much more reasonable idea for needle lace.
The instructions start “Take an old catering size baked bean tin.” I’m a governor of the local school, so I emailed Rosina, our business manager, who had a scrounging trip on my behalf into the kitchen and produced two suitable tins.
Stage one was to roll the tin in quilt wadding. I’ve just finished some patchwork, so I used the offcut from the side of the roll to save on dithering about dimensions. As you can see from the pictures, that went round a couple of times. There was no indication of how to keep the wadding in place. I didn’t like the idea of glue, and it occurred to me that the base of the tin might be a handy surface a some point. So I folded the extra bit of width down over the base and hemmed it all together, pulling as tightly as I dared.
The next stage of the instructions say to use a drab fabric to make a cover. “This is not the place for a gay print.” Yes, the book is that old! I remember being told that the best cover for a blocking board is a regular check, so you can pin against the straight lines and avoid doing too much measuring as you block your knitting to shape. So I used the palest quarter inch gingham I could find. Those squares will help to guage the size of what I’m making, as well as making sure all the straight lines are straight, and angles are square if required.
The idea is to sew the fabric into a tube, make a wide hem at each end, thread a cord through each hem, and tighten these cord to hold the cover in place. You can then undo the cord at the open end of the tin when you want to use it to store your smaller bits of equipment, threads scissors etc.
Useful details about how to get the measuring of the squashy shape right were not included in the book. So I sewed one end of the side seam, and made a very wide hem at that end to form a frill/channel for some ribbon. Then I tied up this “bag opening”, wrapped the fabric in place, pinned it down, and hemmed it on, using the same “parcel wrapping” technique to finish the bottom end.
So now I can make a shape by sticking pins into the pillow, and fill it in with needle lace. The pictures show the beginnings of a leaf shape, just to try it out. I don’t think I’ll be using the inside of the tin for storage any time soon. The rattle would get on my nerves. Now if I got round to lining it…