Winding lace around the bobbins…


Stitching Past & Present

Communications Office

Two weeks of lacemaking classes have come and gone. Sisters, associates, and other community members partook, creating ornate designs in a meditative fashion working in a sunlit room at SJSM’s Spiritual Center in Newton.  

Ann Kaufmann, CSJ, shared details on the creation of lace.

Butterfly design created the second week of the class…

“Preparations for making a new piece of bobbin lace entail several steps. There is the choice of a printed pattern, for instance, the outline of an angel. The print may be covered with clear contact paper to make it reusable for multiple angels. Next is the process of pricking all the dots on the pattern. Each dot represents the spot where a common pin is placed as a stitch is completed, which holds threads in place. Pricking is done with a tool — or simply with a long pin attached to a cork, which acts as a handle to push the pin through every dot in the pattern. This can become tedious depending on the size and detail of the pattern, but it aids in the weaving process. Finally, the thickness of threads and colors are selected and wound on each set of bobbins.”


Bobbins with thread

“Winding by hand takes only a few minutes for small patterns, but for complicated patterns, this process takes longer as it requires greater lengths of threadFinally, the lace maker is ready to begin the actual weaving with the bobbins, always engaging only two sets of bobbins at a time regardless of the number of bobbins needed to weave the whole piece. Lacemaking also requires many occasions of carefully undoing stitches when a mistake is noticed. Regardless, lacemaking can be a very satisfying labor of love, accompanied by the joy of gifting the finished pieces,” Sister Ann shared.



Margaret Lelakes, a CSJ associate who attended the first week of classes, mentioned, “This year I learned at least five new techniques, which enables me to move onto more difficult lace patterns. I began this wonderful journey into lacemaking by watching Sister Ann teach beginner lessons to the older students at Casserly House summer camp, which inspired me to inquire about classes. I wanted to learn this beautiful part of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Boston’s history. This was the beginning of my lacemaking and the eventual creation of the CSJ Lace Group.

I extend an invitation to these new people to join our CSJ lace group, which meets in the Motherhouse, on Saturdays once a month throughout the year.”


Sister Mary, a student in the class, shared some words as well: 

“Lace is contemplative. Once you know the basic stitches, the rhythm, and the process is very prayerful. The Sisters of St. Joseph in Concordia, Kansas, offer a retreat called “Making Lace, Making Peace.” There are times of prayer interspersed with times of making lace. Obviously, it’s not very contemplative when you’re trying to learn how to do something as challenging as making lace! But basically, it’s a contemplative and prayerful craft (once you get it down). Back in the day, the sisters made some of the lace that went on the altar linens and the altar cloths. We want that tradition to continue.”