Lace Gimps

gimp

A gimp is a thicker thread among the normal thin threads of lace. It is used to outline part of the pattern. There are two odd points about a gimp: first, it is a single thread, not a pair like typical threads; second, it travels between the lines of the grid and other threads. It has a pin at the top to start it, but overwise it is quite in position by the other threads rather than pins.

Gimps tend to be used in Bucks Point lace. It can be used in any bobbin lace, of course, and you can even add your own gimps to a pattern if you want particular parts to be outlined.

While a gimp is usually the same colour as the reast of the lace (often white), it can be a different colour, which provides a striking contrast. You can also use a pair of normal thickness threads instead of a normal gimp.

gimpgimp
Working a gimp
Start a gimp
Finish a gimp
Double up a gimp

How to pass a gimp through a pair of threads right to left

Gimp
Threads at start
Gimp
Make sure that pair are twisted
Gimp
Pass gimp under one thread
Gimp
and over the other
Gimp
twist pair again

Gimp

It is important to make sure that the ordinary pair of threads is twisted before and after the gimp has passed between them. If in doubt, twist them again! It doesn't really matter whether the gimp goes under the first or the second, but it must go under one and other the other.

You will also need to pass the gimp going in the other direction. Do the same; twist the pair, put the gimp under one thread and over the other, twist the pair again.


Start a gimp

Some gimps start at the beginning of the lace, and continue to the end. If there are two gimps starting at the same point, then put in a pin, wind the gimps as though they are an ordinary pair of threads, and hang them from the pin. They count as 2 separate gimps though, not a pair, and they will go in different directions. If there is only one gimp, then make a slip knot and hang it from that.

Sometimes a gimp is started in the middle of the pattern, because it is outling a single pattern rather than a continuous one. This means that you need to stick the pin in the right place to start the gimp. It will be the highest point of the gimp (when you're working the lace). It will not be one of the normal pinholes of the grid, but between them, as the gimp itself is also going between the normal lines of the grid.

Start Gimp

Finish a gimp

The gimps that goes continuously through the pattern are not a problem. Treat them like any other thread. Cut off the bobbin, and tie it off with the rest of the threads, joining it with one of the pairs.

If a gimp outlines a single pattern within the lace, then you will need to finish it within the lace, and this is a little trickier.

Gimp
Work all the pattern before the bottom of the gimp
Gimp
Pass gimp on one side through threads. Do not twist threads!
Gimp
Same the other side
Gimp
Cross over the gimps
Gimp
Pass the gimp up the other side
Gimp
Same the other side

You finish off by twisting all pairs of threads, then tighten the gimps and cutting off the gimp bobbins. You don't need to trim the gimp threads yet. There are a lot of pins and threads in the way. It's best to trim off the gimp ends neatly when the whole lace is finished. In fact, you may wish to work some more lace before cutting off the gimp bobbins, to make sure that everything is anchored. But if you do this, lift the gimp bobbins out of the way, as you don't want them any more, and they do tend to get in the way!

It is very important is not twist the threads after the first gimp and before the second. Also the under-and-over of the second gimp must be identical to the second The gimps should lie side by side, touching. You twist the threads at the end, to push the gimps together as much as possible. If you do this, you can't see the doubling of the gimps, which is what you want. They need to double up to anchor the gimps and stop them separating.


Double up a gimp

Usually a gimp is a single thread, treated as above. However, sometimes the pattern requires two gimp thread to run together. Here, you want them to look like a single thread, as far as possible.

doubled up gimp

Sometimes the two gimps go in different directions, such as on the left. You must work all stitches above both gimps. Then run the gimps down to where they double up. Work one gimp along the line of other threads, but don't twist the other threads after passing the gimp through (similar to finishing off a gimp, above). Now work the other gimp along the same threads in the opposite direction. You will need to cross one gimp over the other at some point. Once both gimps have crossed all the threads, then twists all the other threads to fasten the gimps. The design on the left is quite simple.

Sometimes the two gimps travel in the same direction (see right). Again, work all stitches above the gimps, and get them to the point where they are together. Then treat the two gimps as a simgle thread. Lift over threads over (or under) them together. Do not work them as thought they were a pair of threads. These doubling ups can get quite complicated. The pattern on the right actually has 4 gimps. Hopefully the pattern instruction will give some clue as to where the different gimps go, or you might be able to work it out from the photo of the finished lace.

doubled up gimp

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© Jo Edkins 2011