Purfylle: BBQ to Bobbins

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BBQ to Bobbins



I didn't really know how many bobbins I was going to need for the types of lace I wanted to make.
But I did know that you end up needing a lot of bobbins for lace making. The cheapest I could find wooden bobbins was about $1 each plus shipping.  So lets see 24 bobbins (they are often sold by the dozen) gets you 12 pairs, which might suffice for some very simple braids, so you really want to get double that. And to avoid paying multiple shipping fees you really want to get them all at once.  Suddenly it was back to sounding like amounts I would rather spend on fabric. However you can't make bobbin lace without bobbins,
so I decided I would make my own.

This turned out to be quite a bit more labour intensive then I really expected and the results whilst functional are somewhat crude.

left: bamboo skewers
right: chopsticks
At my local kitchen supplies shop I purchased :
  • 2 packets of BBQ bamboo skewers - $2.99 for a pack of 20
  • and one packet of bamboo chopsticks -$3.99 for a pack of 20
They are about the same thickness but the BBQ skewers are round and the chopsticks are square.  I thought I would prefer the round ones and as they were cheaper and I had more of them I could practice making bobbins using them. As it turns out the skewers are rougher around the edges then the chopsticks.
left: new packet of chopsticks
right: same chopsticks at twice the price

I have since found the exact same chopsticks in different packaging for half the price, so I got a packet of those too.

I don't have a lathe so I used a grinding wheel to shape them into bobbins.  It takes a fair bit of concentration and is rather tedious so I only make a few a time.
wheel grinder

I started making them with a neck that had a distinct top and bottom to them for where the thread gets wound on. It was really hard to get right without wrecking the whole bobbin by taking off too much. They were also really challenging to get the sand paper into the little edges to make them all smooth after they'd been shaped on the grinder. So I switched to a tapered neck.

Because the tapered neck ones were so much easier to sand back I had them ready to use first. I added some 'spangles' - that's bobbin lace speak for bead weights - and tried out my new lace pillow.  I eventually remembered to take a photo after I had finished making some lace, you can see the remaining bits of yarn threads on the bobbins.


I found that my thread wouldn't behave itself on the tapered bobbins very well because it would slide up onto the skinnier part of the bobbin and be all loose. So when I made some more I tried making the tapered section longer so this wouldn't happen. When it came to making the square bobbins with the chopsticks I realised that a tapered neck wasn't really going to work so I went back to the other type.  I made them all different lengths so that I can figure out what works best for me, and a bit too long incase the hole drilling went awry. Have you made bobbin lace? What kind of bobbin do you like best?
left: pair of the first batch of tapered bobbins
middle: the longer tapered neck
right: first square bobbin pair 

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