A slip knot can be used in two ways, to start a single bobbin, or to mend a broken thread.
Working: Make a loop. Double up the end, and push the folded back part through the loop. Tighten so that there is a loop visible in the finished knot, but you can make this loop disappear by slipping the knot - pulling one of the ends (in which case, you will have to tie the knot again!)
Normally you wind two bobbins with a single thread - winding each end onto a different bobbin. This creates a pair of bobbins, which you hang from a pin at the start of the lace. However, sometimes you only want to hang a single bobbin, such as a single gimp thread. Other examples are if the two threads in a pair are different colours, or if you are making a shape such as a cross, where half the thread is used for the first arm, and the other half for a second arm.
You can use a slip knot if you need to anchor a single bobbin at the start of the lace. Make a slip knot near the end of the thread, and put the loop over the pin, pulling tight. This will keep the start of the thread firmly in place. When you wish to remove this pin (after having worked down the lace for a bit) then after doing so, you can pull gently at the end of the thread. This will "slip" the knot, leaving no trace of it.
You can also use a slip knot to mend a broken thread. Modern threads do not often break, but it is annoying when they do! The obvious thing to do is to knot the thread from the bobbin back onto the thread from the lace, but the break tends to happen close to the lace, leaving very little thread to make the knot. Here is a neat way to do it.
Working: You need a little thread available from the lace end, so if necessary, undo a bit of lace to ensure this. Then, with the thread coming from the bobbin, make a slip knot. (You have plenty of thread here, so this is not a problem.) The "slippy" bit of the slip knot should be the thread leading to the bobbin, and the firm part of the knot should be the loose end. Poke the small bit of thread from the lace through the hole of the slip knot. "Slip" the knot by gently pulling on both ends of the thread belonging to the bobbin. (Do not touch the thread from the lace, or it will just fall out of the loop.) Eventually the the thread from the lace is trapped inside the loop of the slip knot. Carry on pulling gently, and you will feel almost a "click" as the knot transforms itself into a bend. Now the lace thread is firmly connected to the bobbin thread. If you stop before this "click", then you just have the lace thread lying inside the loop of a slip knot, and it will pull out.
This "clicked" knot is similar to sheet bend, and it is a good, strong knot between two free threads, better, in fact, than a reef knot. Trim the loose ends. This does not need to be done immediately - you can wait until you get to the end of the lace and have removed all pins.
You can also use this method if you run out of thread on a bobbin before finishing a piece of lace. Here you tend to realise this long before the lace thread becomes so short, but the knot can be made in the same way. There is no need to make this knot close to the worked lace. You can join the new thread to the old anywhere. Then carry on working the lace, and the knot in the thread will eventually end up inside the lace. You would have thought that the knot would be visible, but I have not found it so. The loose ends might be visible though, so it might be best to trim them off immediately, rather than risk them getting worked into the lace themselves, possibly where they shouldn't!
You can join a new thread to an old (if you run out of thread) without a knot, using the parallel thread method.
© Jo Edkins 2016 - return to lace index