Our Memories

Morag (part 1)

On holiday in 1978, a friend asked me how I would spend my time now the children were beginning school. My immediate reply was that I would make a lace bedspread!

She suggested an Evening Class and I discovered an Embroidery/Lacemaking Course was on the list for the first time. About 20 ladies turned up to meet Meriel Tilling, just arrived in Edinburgh from southern England, who had been taught by her grandmother.

As most wanted to learn lacemaking, only that was taught. We were shown how to make a pillow with a plywood base covered with cotton cloth and filled with lots of chopped straw, laboriously hammered into it. It was very heavy!

Morag (part 2)

We sent away for wooden bobbins, thread and Pamela Nottingham’s book, ‘The Technique of Bobbin Lace’. We had to learn Torchon, Bedfordshire and Bucks Point before we were allowed to do Honiton, which I had been eager to learn for a long time, so I spent many years making beautiful motifs.

After two years at Evening Class, we all felt we still needed support to continue learning more about lacemaking. Therefore, we started a monthly, self-help club, so that new people could attend the Evening Class instead of ourselves. The only bedspread I ever made was for a child’s dollshouse!

Lace and Laughter (part 1)

Special Recognition by Liz

In January 2017, Maxine and I went south to The Hollies, The Lace Guild HQ in Stourbridge, to dismantle the Exhibition of ELC’s precious lace and bring it home. Being well brought up, I took three boxes of Border Biscuits with us, my favourites! When we arrived, I gave them to the ladies in the office, as you do.

On our return home, I had to contact The Hollies and, in their email reply, was a ‘Thank You’. They had all enjoyed the biscuits, the Dark Chocolate Ginger being their favourite.

On the few occasions I have phoned since then, I am immediately recognised by Sara as ‘The Biscuit Lady’! Answer: Butterscotch Crunch and Lemon Drizzle Melts. You will know the question!

Lace and Laughter (part 2)

Scary Stuff by Liz

I like to bring different, tasty treats home to share with friends when I’ve been abroad. A couple of years ago, I was in Kitty’s group returning from a lovely busy lacemaking holiday in Bruges. People who were waiting for me to get through security at Brussels Airport will remember this. The young security officer asked to go through my hand luggage and, with my unconcerned permission, carefully removed my boring belongings, until a pretty pink paper bag was left. He asked what it contained and I replied ‘Marzipan’. Four heavy, different flavoured slices of marzipan (5in oval and ½in thick), packed neatly in clear cellophane and sealed with the shop label. I had to repeat it was marzipan, then a female officer quietly said ‘Sweets’. I was allowed to repack and be on my way. There was NO plastic explosive in my bag. BEWARE!

So, now, I buy small chocolate Easter eggs. One innocent, delicious slice of walnut marzipan, just for me, gets packed safely in my suitcase, with those dangerous scissors and hundreds of lethal long pins. My respect for those people in security is enormous.


A gasp goes around the room!

Linda has let out an exasperated growl and the dreaded words . . . ‘That’s it!  I’m just going to take the scissors to it!’ . . . bring forth gasps and exhortations of:


‘Don’t you dare!’

 ‘It can’t be that bad!’

 ‘Not after all that work!’

I think she does it just to shock – what a bissom she is!


My first view of Bobbin Lacemaking was at the Glasgow Garden Festival in 1988.  The ladies encouraged me to try, despite my fears of making a mess!  I started making tentative steps on my own lace journey in the early Nineties.  Everyone is most encouraging and helpful and a big part of lacemaking is being able to admire other people’s efforts, which we all delight in.

I can honestly say that I have been making lace since I was about two, as my grandmother taught me to crochet at that time. I only discovered that this was lace too when I started Bobbin Lacemaking.


Over 20 years ago, my next-door neighbour said she had seen a course advertised for a Bobbin Lace Class and would I like to go with her? I thought ‘Why not?’ and off we went to the course (which was held in Gladstone’s Land in the High Street) with our home-made pillows and a few wooden bobbins which Sheila’s father had turned for us.

After the first night learning to make a ‘bandage’, I was hooked and have been making lace ever since.  Over the years, I have gone to many classes all over the country, and in the French Alps, and enjoyed every minute of them all.


It’s Margaret’s fault! I first met her at a Sjogren’s Syndrome Support Meeting in Glasgow. We chatted one day about the different crafts we liked to do and she mentioned that she did Bobbin Lacemaking. I said that I had always wanted to learn how to make lace and she then informed me that there was a course coming up in Glasgow. I booked onto it and she invited me to stay with her that weekend.

I learnt such a lot on the Course, not only from my tutor, Kitty Mason, but from Margaret and the other ladies who were there. It was then that I found out about the Edinburgh Lace Club and a night class held at Currie High School. I have been hooked on lacemaking since then.

Thanks, Margaret!


One of my hobbies is genealogy. While researching my family history, I discovered that my two-times great grandmother, Mary Butler (nee Mascall), was shown as a lacemaker in Hambleden, Buckinghamshire, on the 1851 Census.  Then, I found my four-times great grandmother, Jenny Barlow (nee Haws), was a lacemaker in Hambleden on the same Census.  Sadly, she was also listed as a pauper, telling of the conditions they had to endure and the dying out of the home lacemaking industry, as mechanisation took over.

So, 162 years later, I retired from teaching and decided to try to learn Bucks Lacemaking, my forebears’ occupation!  At the 2013 Edinburgh Lace Summer School, I started the journey I am still on.  I have made Bucks, Torchon, Flanders, Binche and Contemporary Lace . . . and truly have the lacemaking bug!


In 1993, or was it 1994, I went to a hall in Peebles where people were demonstrating the crafts they did as hobbies.  A young lady, who I now know is Jean, was working a narrow Bobbin Lace edging.

On the Monday, over lunch at work, I mentioned it and discovered that one of my colleagues also made lace.  Why she’d kept quiet about it, I don’t know!

That night, I went to the lacemaking class at The Embroidery Shop in William Street, Edinburgh, and was welcomed into the fold.


I was 15 when my parents took me to Brugge on holiday and I was fascinated with the ladies who were working on their lace pillows.

Moving to Scotland in 1964, I still hadn’t found a class, but a friend who worked tapestry weaving put me in touch with one organised by two lovely teachers.

I got the bug and, in 1983, started classes and here we are now . . .

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