Original Bobbin Lace Patterns
by Irene Tomlinson
I thought you might like to know a little about me, my family and how I came to design lace patterns.
First a bit about my family.
I have a husband and one son. The help and support of my husband, Alwyn, has been indispensable - without his understanding I would not have been able to enjoy my "lace life" as I have. Not only is he very understanding about late meals and the clacking of the bobbins but he helps me when I take my patterns to a Lace Day.
We have recently had an addition to our family - our first grandchild , a boy called Finlay Callum. Of course I am not prejudiced in any way but he is absolutely gorgeous. If my lace production drops off in the future you will now know why. I have told my son that he will be brought up to appreciate the finer things in life i.e. lace but we shall see how much Finlay lets me do.
Other changes this year include a new workroom - what a job moving all the things from an upstairs room to a downstairs extension. I did not realize how much there was in my old workroom until I came to move it.
My Lacemaking Life
I started learning bobbin lace in 1976 at Further Education Classes and quickly became addicted! I had tried many crafts but lacemaking soon became my favourite and seemed to take over my life.
I started teaching lacemaking in the early 1980s while still a full time Primary Teacher. I taught Primary school full time until I opened a shop specializing in lacemaking supplies. The shop, Shireburn Lace, was open from 1984 to 1992.
I enjoyed the years in the shop and it gave me the opportunity to meet many lacemakers. It was hard work however. The Lace Days which we attended as General Suppliers were always enjoyable but also especially exhausting - up early, driving to the venue, unloading the car, busy all day, re-loading the car, driving home, collapsing into bed.
During the time we had the shop, I continued teaching lacemaking. I have taught Further Education Classes, classes at the shop and also City & Guilds classes for three different colleges.
My lace designing started as an offshoot of my teaching. New patterns were in short supply and when a student wanted a new pattern I would design one for her - it was often quicker than trying to find a suitable one.
When my partner in the shop remarried, we decided to close the shop and I thought that I would like to continue designing lace. I decided to continue to use the name Shireburn Lace because this was a name known and recognized by many lacemakers and some would be able to put a face to the name having met me at many Lace Days.
After the shop closed I was a member of the Lace Guild Executive Committee for two years as Chairman of the Education Sub-Committee. This was a very busy time but I thoroughly enjoyed it. The Lace Guild's main aim is to promote the knowledge of lacemaking and the members of the Executive Committee work extremely hard on behalf of lacemakers. I felt that by working for the Lace Guild I was repaying the family of lacemakers for the enjoyment I had had over a number of years.
I still teach and all my classes are now private classes.
They are held in different areas - my classes are:-
If you are in the area when we are holding a class and you would like to call in (with or without a pillow) you will be very welcome. If you would like more information on any of my courses, please contact me.
I have also taught residential courses at Grantley Hall College near Ripon. These weekends were very popular but the Hall is now being sold and so we cannot use it any more for courses. Grantley Hall was a marvellous venue. It is a lovely house (a Grade II listed building) with beautiful grounds, comfortable rooms, wonderful food and best of all a full weekend to make lace without interruptions - no telephones ringing, no meals to prepare and no washing up.
I am hoping to teach small groups of students at home in the future.
When the shop closed, I decided to concentrate on designing lace as well as teaching. I enjoy designing and thought it would occupy some of my time – now though, I seem to spend most of my time either designing or working a new piece. I did not think that it would be so time consuming. (Time consuming but very enjoyable.) It is a lovely excuse to make lace, I can convince myself very easily that I am really working when sitting at my pillow.
I had to learn to use a computer so that I could produce accurate prickings. I knew it would be no good producing prickings which were not accurate. The computer and I still frequently quarrel (I am not computer-minded) but for the most part the partnership seems to work.
I hope those of you who have used my patterns have enjoyed working them and those who have not worked them might try them in the future. Please let me have any comments about the designs, any feedback would be appreciated.