Knotwork Lace Tools

Hand turned lace bobbins, lace related items and needlework tools


PrickerPuller VPuller hoopCrochet hookEyes out

Things that make life as a lacemaker easier and more fun!

                                                                                             Bone             Woods
Pricker with a #10 needle. QPKR $7.00 PKR $5.00
Puller, V or hoop style. QPLR $7.00 PLR $5.00
Crochet Hook #14 size N/A N/A CH $5.00
Eyes Out N/A N/A EO $5.00
Double tool- pusher & puller N/A N/A P/P $7.00
Mini bobbin 1 1/4 inch. Styles vary. QBB $5.00 BB $3.00


Top n' Bobbin

A toy designed with lacemakers in mind!
Spinning Tops

Turned from hard maple, decorated with chatter work and non-toxic markers.
Each one's chatterwork is different. Great stocking stuffers! $5.00 each.


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Wood Factoids
Some things you probably didn't care if you ever found out about wood.
(And if you really don't care, stop reading now.)

A few words about what is done to wood to get bobbins. Cut it, dry it, slice it, make a blank, mark centers, put it in a chuck, round it down, mark the design, cut it, sand it, polish it, cut it off, decorate it.... A bobbin is a form of spindle turning, meaning the blank is turned on the long axis. The tool steel is applied to the spinning blank and cuts away the wood.

A copy lathe, or duplicator, is used by many to create the basic shape of the bobbin. This is a mechanized turning process used to speed up production. It produces lots of bobbins at a lesser price, but its drawback is that they are all absolutely identical and often rather boring in shape. There is no creativity to this except in the decoration., if any is added.

Grain is the lengthwise pattern of the wood fibers. Lace bobbins are made by turning wood that is cut "with the grain". In other words, along the length of the board, not across it.

The tightness of the grain, or texture, is determined by the annual seperation of the tree's growth rings; an open grain has widely seperated growth rings and tends to have pits between the rings. A fine texture has tightly spaced rings, usually due to the tree's slower growth rate.

Figure is any unusual pattern in the wood grain, such as fiddleback, bird's eye, roey (ribbon), and irregular patterns.

Classifying a tree as a hardwood has nothing to do with the actual hardness of its wood. It means only that the tree has broad leaves instead of needles, and bears its seeds in a closed cavity. There are softwoods which are harder than hardwoods.

Durability, hardness and toughness usually increase with the density of a wood.

Green lumber is wood that is freshly sawn and has not been dried. Making bobbins from green wood will result in split or banana shaped bobbins when the wood dries!

Improved wood is made under many names; hardwood is soaked in or injected with synthetic resins to color or harden it. Very fragile pieces such as burls and spalted woods are made much stronger by this process.

Knot: a circular, woody structure that once formed the base of a branch or twig growing from the trunk of a tree or bush. Some woods rarely have knots; others have them every inch or so. Turners tend to have a love/hate relationship with knots. On the one hand, the knot is usually where the grain is interrupted and swirls about the knot to make nifty patterns. But, if the knot isn't sound, it may be pulled out during turning, or leave a rough spot in the finish. On the whole, a well-placed, sound knot is a bonus which makes a given lace bobbin uniquely identifiable.

As with laces, woods are known by different names in different countries. While each species has only one botanical name, one species has 197 common names!

There is no such thing as dry rot. Any wood will last as long as it is kept dry. Moisture, from rain or even just contact with soil, is what causes wood to rot. Spalting, since you asked, is wood that has begun to decay but has not yet crumbled; often it turns pretty colors.

Many woods have a distinctive scent which is released upon cutting. (You don't want to encounter stink wood....)

Stray minerals are frequently taken up into growing wood and may leave a color stain. But leadwood does not really contain a large amount of lead. It's just the color that got it the name.

Speaking of colors, woods vary widely between subspecies and even within one tree. The Dalbergia family includes Kingwood, which ranges from light brown to a deep, almost black purple; Cocobolo, which is orange and black; and Rosewoods, running from straw colored to maroon red.

A board foot, the measurement of the way most lumber is sold, is 1 inch thick, 12 inches wide and 1 foot long, or its cubic equivalent. You know you're in trouble when you spot a perfectly wonderful looking piece and it is labeled 'by the pound'. This is how the rarest, scarcest and most highly sought woods such as Snakewood, Texas Ebony and Pink Ivory wood are sold.


A non-wood note:  many antique dealers and turners will identify old bone bobbins as ivory.   While there are modern turners who have experimented with fossilized ivory for turning bobbins, there are only half a dozen confirmed antique bobbins made from genuine ivory in the museums.  So when someone insists it's ivory, take it with a very large grain of salt, and don't pay for what you aren't getting.  Consider that ivory was just as rare, if not more so, than it is today in the Europe of a few hundred years ago when what are now antique bobbins were being made.  Most of the ladies with the kind of money to afford ivory were going to use it for adornment; while it was essential for a lady to know many handcrafts, the upper class was not working lace as more than a hobby, if at all.  There would be very little call for bobbins made of such a costly substance.  The production of lace belonged to the peasant classes, who couldn't dream of buying ivory and only had access to bone because of their few meat animals.  The vast majority of bobbins were of wood; the ratio seems to favor bone more today simply because the bone is a tougher material that outlasted some of the woods.

Some may ask, well, it's all the same stuff, isn't it?  Yes, bone and ivory are both of the same chemical composition- it's just the arrangement of the structure that makes them so different, just like pencil lead is different from diamond even though they are both almost pure carbon.

It is fairly easy to tell bone from ivory or antler; bone is dense and mostly opaque, often with stress fractures visible, and often yellowish inclusions caused by the fat in the animal's diet.  Antler is also opaque and usually grainy, with a greyish smudgy look to its fractures and markings.  In fan sticks you may also encounter whale bone, which looks very much like regular bone but is more porous.  Ivory tends to have a softer look, a more yellowish overall cast.  It also has the famous 'engine turning' or 'cross hatch' markings, visible with a strong light, spiraling slightly darker lines running through the material, something like a double helix.   For a photo that shows this effect (with the darker lines looking lighter due to backlighting) nicely, go to    Be warned: the makers of celluloid plastics back in the 1930's or so were very good at imitating this cross hatching appearance.

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