Lace
Young women were taught lacemaking by family members.

Lacemakers from the Victorian age when lace was an industry in New Pitsligo

Making lace has been a tradition passed on from one generation to the next in New Pitsligo
Working with so many bobbins is a complcated task.

Lace Making
A 'hole' new world

  Bobbin, bone or pillow lace (bone because of fish bones which were used before pins became plentiful) began in New Pitsligo at the beginning of the nineteenth century.

It is generally thought that the daughter of the landlord, Lady Harriet Forbes, brought a lacemaker from her Devonshire estate to the village to teach the women the art of lacemaking. There are differing reports of how the craft started but it certainly has a Continental touch because New Pitsligo lacemekers use Continental type bobbins and have a footside of patterns to the left as is common there.

Women of the village were encouraged to find use of local grown flax and the course thread spun from it locally.

Rev. W. Webster, later dean of Aberdeen and Orkney, was ordained in 1834 and came to St. John's Church in 1841 - 1893. He and his wife took great interest in the lace work and felt that more skill was required as well as the need of better materials.

The complex and beautiful world of lacemaking.

With skilled tuition and finer threads beautiful work was produced and commercial opportunities were realised. A cottage industry came into being and as many as 160 women at one time were employed. Sir John and Lady Harriet Forbes boosted the sale of lace by introducing it to their friends and family.
Fame of New Pitsligo lace spread and soon orders came from all over the world. Specimens were submitted to Balmoral for Queen Victoria's inspection and this brought in sales of lace to edge baby caps and cuffs and a special piece made for the Great Exhibition in 1851.

Some of the members of the New Pitsligo Lace  Club  which continues with great support.

 

  Lace was worked on a bolster pillow with patterns made out of skin of cow or rabbit, stuck on firmly, bobbins wound with thread and expertly worked round the pins to make lovely designs. The skin patterns got hard and distorted so required great skill to work them. Nowadays of course flat cushions are used with a wheel insertion, even patterns made in card, well turned bobbins and brass pins.

New Pitsligo patterns are handed down from one generation to the next and have names like, Bird's Eye, Ox Eye, Queen's Fan (from Queen Victoria) Lady's Fan (after her lady in waiting), Spider, Madagascar, Rose and Pineapple

Machine made lace put paid to the industry and it began a long decline. However, the art has been passed down, without written instructions, from generation to generation and a very active Lace Club of around 24 adults and 10 children carries on the tradition today.

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