Attending a Lace Day- tips and tricks

On 18th April there will be a new Spring Lace Fair at Haydock Racecourse. This adds to the current large UK Lace events throughout the year including the National Christmas Lacemakers Fair in Solihull and The Great Northern (Not Just) Lace day in Pudsey. Local lace groups also often hold Lace Days where a number of suppliers are brought together and there is usually a talk, exhibition or workshop- check out the Lace Guild or Lace News for more details. So I thought I’d share some ideas and tips if you’ve not been to a lace day before.


At the bigger lace days there’ll be a mix of suppliers- from those specialising in one thing- bobbins, patterns, tools etc- to those who stock a range of general supplies.

  • Take some cash- most suppliers do now take cards but some smaller ones may not, and you don’t want to miss out on a purchase due to lack of readies.Money
  • Take a list- it can get a little overwhelming sometimes and you may be halfway home before you remember something you really needed. I speak from experience.          shopping list
  • Take a big, comfortable bag to put all your purchases in. And if you’ve taken your own lunch, once you’ve eaten it you’ll have more space to put stuff- win! 00518297_large
    • Get there early when it tends to be a little quieter and you can do a thorough recce before the crowds descend.                                                     clock


  • Be prepared to get your elbows out a little bit when it gets busy. There’ll quite often be big ‘scrums’ around certain stalls and you have to make sure you get to see what you need to. People are friendly, but it’s every man for himself.          crowd
  • If you need a lace cushion, lace days are always good as you can feel the weight and quality and get a precise idea of the size.          Photo 1
  • If you’re after a specific item, compare prices at different stalls- they’re usually about the same but can vary a little.                          queue
  • Ask other lacemakers if you can pick anything up for them while you’re there.  gift-black-and-white-img_x2501312aa1

The first time I went to the Christmas Fair (then held at the NEC over 2-3 days) I was like a child in a sweetshop. I had only just re-started making lace and spent all the money I took with me (about £100) on buying new equipment and stocking up on new threads and bobbins. However, these days, I tend to spend far less because I have most of the basic equipment I need now- but you always *need* more thread and I always buy a bobbin or two, if nothing else. Even if I don’t have anything particular to buy, I still go along if I can to support the suppliers and see if there’s anything new. Most of the suppliers do mail order or online trade now but you can’t beat being able to see the stock and have a good look at everything, and of course the chance to mix with other like-minded people. Enjoy!


Image credits: 1 & 3. 2. 4. Paperchase 5. 6. 7. 8. 9.


How to attend a lace group… and make no lace

So it was the monthly meeting of my lace group on Saturday- in theory, 5 hours to spend getting on with making lace, visiting the supplier and seeing what everyone else has on their pillow. Except it didn’t quite work out like that. Most of the usual organisers were on holiday so I ended up having to get people signed up for a workshop, introducing and thanking the speaker (a very funny and slightly risqué vicar…) and keeping the lovely suppliers topped up with tea. So I managed about 10 minutes of lace, but it was just enough time to finish the Wild Rose:


Ignore the slightly leaf-shaped leadworks in the middle- if I aim for leaves I get leadworks and vice versa…. And here it is next to a paper clip so you get an idea of scale:


I can’t quite believe that something so small took near enough two months- but at the rate of 10 minutes every session, it’s perhaps hardly surprising.

I was also surprised, and slightly depressed by the supplier saying that we are one of the younger lace groups she visits. There were around 30 of us there on Saturday; I’m in my mid-thirties and was the youngest by at least ten years. And at least 20 of the others were over 65, with many now being too old, or their eye-sight is too bad to even do any lace anymore. She said most groups she visits are all in their 80s- so what does that mean for 10 or 15 years time?? There was such a big resurgence of lace-making in the 1980s but it seems to have tailed off again now in most areas- with some notable exceptions, like Devon and Japan (yes, really). So come on, get your bobbins out! Give it a go if you’ve not tried it before- I’ll shortly be posting some tutorials to get even the novice started off. Lace-making may be quite old-fashioned and not exactly the hippest craft on the block, but it’s part of our heritage and a great way to spend some time- even if you’ve only got 10 minutes…