Lacemaking bobbins are long, thin tools used to manipulate the lacemaking threads and to put tension on them while working. They are traditionally made of wood or bone, and are sometimes painted or carved.

Anatomy of a Bobbin

From top to bottom: head, neck, shank, spangle

The thread is wound around the neck. Usually bobbins are round to roll freely but some prefer rectangular variants. The bobbins may tend to roll in a single direction and thus weaken the threads by undoing the twist.

Continental Bobbins

Continental Bobbins are the type used mainly in Europe. They are weighted by a bulb at the end of the handle. These bulbs are very large in the south-west of the Alps because they throw the bobbins to complete a CTCTC stitch where normal Torchon would use a pin. Eastern European bobbins have hoods to protect the thread wound on lower part of the dangling bobbins.

English Bobbins
Left: Honiton bobbins. Right: East Midland Bobbins, with spangles

East Midlands

East Midlands bobbins are smaller and ligher than Continental bobbins, and are weighted by way of a spangle of beads attached to the bottom. The spangle also prevents rolling.


Honiton bobbins are used specifically for Honiton style piece lace. They are smaller than East Midlands bobbins, and do not have a spangle. Instead, they taper down to a point to make sewings easier.