Plaited Lace 1

At this stage, the assessors are checking to make sure that you are correctly working the basic techniques and that your tension is improving. You do not have to achieve 100% in order to gain your certificate, you need to show that you have got a reasonable understanding of the techniques and your lace is improving. This is why for Stage 1 that the requirements ask you to arrange your folder in the order of working, so the assessors can see such improvements.

It is advisable to choose patterns which show various techniques within them, this includes the 3 major pieces. More than one technique can be included in one piece and if you plan in advance, you can avoid unnecessary repetition, which may reduce the number of pieces you have to make. Source your patterns from a variety of books so the assessors can see you have access to different authors. It is not required for you to buy all books listed, source your state library or sk your friends to see what they have. Also use a variety of threads, cotton, linen and silk and kept lace in soft colours. Try to use cotton threads in a range of thickness. It is to your advantage to show you can handle both a of fine and heavier thread. Do not use variegated thread, for it makes it harder for the assessor to see the techniques and your thread movement.

Plaited Lace includes Bedfordshire, Cluny and Maltese and of the three, Bedfordshire seems to be the most popular. Whichever you do, the lace must have a clean crisp appearance, the plaits should be firm and straight, the leaf shaped tallies should be smooth edged and of a consistent shape and size and the cloth work should be the consistency of a firmly woven fabric. If this sounds a little daunting don’t worry. In stage 1 and even Stage 2, you will be mainly showing your understanding of techniques. The rest is something to aim for and will come with practice.

You might think a single picot is a picot on its own, and a double picot is where you make two side by side. In fact, this is not the case. A single picot is made by a single thread where a double picot is made by a pair of threads. There is a great explanation of both single and double picots in the booklet in the back of Pam Robinsons, A Manual of Bedfordshire Lace. Use a single picot for thicker threads and a double picot for finer threads. The general rule is if the thread is thicker than a DMC Broder Machine 30, use a single picot. If using 30 or finer thread then use a double picot.

Often you find a picot has split, and you ask yourself, what did I do wrong? You may have used an incorrect way of making the picot. Another reason is you may not have had enough twists on it. General rule is use 3 twists for heavier thread, 5 twists for medium thread and 7 twists for a very fine thread. Be careful when pulling out the pin, if you do it too harsh or quick it may distort the picot. Place your finger at the base of the picot before removing the pin and only ever remove one pin at a time. Also it may be the pin so check it to make sure it does not have any burrs. The only other thing to remember about picots is that they should be round, not elongated, and they should stand squarely out from the plait. If they are elongated, then you are not tensioning the first plait movement after the picot sufficiently. This stitch should be pulled up firmly behind the pin.

A double trail is two trails running side by side with connecting bars. The connections can be a kiss stitch, a cucumber tally, or a leaf tally. Do not confuse a double trail that has a twisted division down the center. Patterns with double trails are not very plentiful so you may have to do some adapting. Patterns for crossing trails are much easier to find, but do not confuse them with merging trails, connecting trails or joined trails. The names can be confusing and are sometimes interchanged. To be sure, choose a pattern where the passives in the two trails actually cross over. See Barbara Underwoods Introducing Bedfordshire Lace in 20 Lessons, on pages 38 and 39. In Fig 6a the passives cross over and in fig 6b they don’t. If you are doing a proficiency I suggest you use method 6a, this one can not be confused with anything else.

Lastly I want to talk about square ended tallies. It is almost impossible to find a modern pattern showing a square ended tally, but if you can get your hands on a copy of Bedforshire Lace Patterns from the Rose Family Sample Book, then almost all these patterns feature square ended tallies. Also, certain patterns with leaf tallies are suitable for changing into square ended tallies. Pattern 12 in Bedforshire lace Making by Pamela Robinson is suitable as is also Barbara Underwoods Bedforshire Lace in 20 lessons on page 50.

In finishing, I would like to mention that assessing is a difficult job and our assessors do it in their own time, they do not get paid for it. So if you can do anything to make the assessors job any easier, it would be greatly appreciated. Keep the layout in your workbook the same throughout. Record all the informtion and add your own thoughts. Place notes on one side and your lace on the other side so assessors do not need to flip a page to go from one to the other.

© Extracted and Adapted from The Journal of the Australian Lace Guild ~ April 2012


Plaited Lace 2

The best place to start is to reread the guidelines, they give a lot of clues as to what is expected in Stage 2. Look for patterns that have more than one stage 2 technique in them, these patterns are more likely to be the standard of difficulty that assessors are looking for. An example of this type of pattern is on page 44 of Traditional Bedfordshir Lace – Techniques and Patterns by Barbara Underwood. If you are using small motifs to show a technique make sure the technique is used more than once in the motif, the assessors need to see that you can consistently produce a technique. It is requirement of Stage 2 that one of your major pieces must be of your own design.

It is important that you include with your notes, all drawings, sketches and evidence ideas. The assessors wish to see how the work developed from your original thoughts. If you are using a computer design program, print off a copy of the pattern at regular points to show progression of your design work. It also helps to include working diagrams for the techniques you have used in the pattern. Working diagrams also help the assessors in adding and removing pairs, at corners and within the work. This can be achieved by enlarging this area of the pattern and marking the spot where the pairs have been added or removed.

There is a diagram, photo and pattern for Kat stitch footside on page 34 of A Bedfordshire Family of Laces by Jennifer Fisher. There is another photo and pattern on page 87. The other footside that is difficult to find a pattern suitable for stage 2 is A Three Pin Footside. You will find an example of this footside on page 72 of A Bedfordshire Lace Collection by Barbara Underwood and on page 86 of Bedfordshire Lace Patterns by Margaret Turner. A good working description for both can be found in Heather Billington’s Plaited Lace, Bedfordshire Intermediate on page 6.

An irregular crossing is where the number of plaits or leaf shaped tallies coming into the crossing are different from the number leaving. For example, four plaits coming in while 3 plaits leave the crossing.

Page 8 in Traditional Bedfordshire Lace technique and Patterns by Barbara Underwood shows a basic nine pin edge and five other nine pin edges that could be called complex. Also see page 34 – 35 of Bedfordshire Lace Making by Pamela Nottingham.

Wheatears are another name for a leaf shaped tally.
TWO PAIRS FROM ONE PIN: Two pairs are left out of the trail at one pinhole to make the leaf tally. This is the most common way of making a leaf tally. See page 69 of Bedfordshire Lace Patterns by Margaret Turner.
ONE PAIR FROM EACH OF TWO PINS: These tallies are also known as floating tallies, they do not attach directly to the trail. Leave one pair out at the first pinhole and the second pair out at the next pinhole. Twist each pair down to the top pinhole of the leaf. Join the two pairs together with a Make the tally. See page 72 of Bedfordshire Lace Patterns by Margaret Turner.

© Extracted and adapted from The Journal of the Australian Lace Guild ~ August 2012


Plaited Lace 3

When you are ready to do Plaited stage 3 you have a lot to consider. Plaited lace can be done in any of these three style, Bedfordshire, Maltese or Cluny. Most people choose Bedfordshire because working information and patterns are readily available.

Before you choose your patterns study each one carefully. The instructions on the Proficiency requirements sheet say you must show ‘advanced techniques (i.e. a high degree of difficulty’.) Compare the patterns you are looking at with the patterns you did for stage 2, there must be a considerable step up. You will also notice in the instructions there are more technical requirements to be included. These techniques (e.g. flowers, leaves and advanced grounds, edges and fillings) are found in Floral Bedfordshire.

If you will be using an old pattern (hand-drawn) you will notice that the pattern usually needs truing up. The pinholes are not evenly spaced and the plait lines do not always line up with the intended pinhole. To get a satisfactory result it is often necessary to move some of the pinholes, leave some out or add more pinholes.To make the pattern easier to work it is a good idea to lightly colour in the cloth work areas, the design then becomes clearer.

Bedfordshire is a firm crisp lace. The cloth work should be quite dense, (not open as in Bucks Point.) This results in a beautiful contrast between the motifs, (flowers and leaves) and the ground.Try to keep the density of the cloth work constant, you will have to add pairs or remove pairs as you work to obtain the best results.To help keep the lace firm it is necessary to put three twists on the worker at the end of the cloth stitch rows as you go around the pin.

Bedfordshire lace is worked on the right side because of the raised work. When cutting off the thrown back threads they should be cut individually under slight tension. The cut end then ends up on the back of the work thus keeping the front smooth.

It is a general rule that the angle of the working rows are at right angles to the footside. When working floral Bedfordshire you can obtain a better appearance if the working rows follow the flow of the leaves and the stems. If you study photos of oldlace with a magnifying glass you will see what I mean.

Here is a list of books where you might find suitable patterns and diagrams, with descriptions, for advanced techniques of flowers, leaves, grounds and fillings.

    • ‘Introducing Traditional Bedfordshire lace in 20 Lessons’ – Barbara Underwood.
    • ‘Traditional Bedfordshire Lace Technique and Patterns’ – Barbara Underwood.
    • ‘A Bedfordshire Lace Collection’ – Barbara Underwood.
    • ‘Floral Bedfordshire’ – Yvonne Scheele-Kerkhof’
    • ‘Bedfordshire Lace Patterns’ – Margaret Turner.
    • ‘Bedfordshire Lace Designs’ – Louise West.



In Conclusion

Do not get discouraged by any Stage, these notes are a guide and hopefully be a bit of help. They have been put together based on feedback that has been received from assessment teams.