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Assessment Scheme

The Lace Guild offers the opportunity to have your lacemaking skills appraised through our Assessment programme.

Assessments are offered at three levels, Foundation (replacing the old Elementary level), Intermediate and Advanced, and in the following laces: Bedfordshire, Bucks Point, Honiton, Milanese, Torchon (revised 2019), Needlelace, Tatting (revised 2009), Decorated Net and Downton (Foundation and Intermediate only). You should certainly find something to suit you there.

Up to now, there have been Young Lacemaker Assessments with three levels — Bronze, Silver and Gold with the choice of Torchon, Braid/Milanese, Bucks Point, Bedfordshire or Honiton. However, the Torchon Assessment has recently been updated, with the Young Lacemaker Assessment being replaced by the new Foundation Level Assessment. This will streamline the Assessment documents and enable all beginner lacemakers to study at the same level.  It is intended to revise all other assessments in the same way within the next few years.

Don’t worry if you have already started an earlier version. This will still be assessed as before.  New candidates will receive the updated versions upon purchase. Therefore, there may be some overlap of the old and new assessment documents for the next round of assessment.


There is an award for exceptional work in an Adult Assessment — the Margaret Hamer Memorial Bobbin — and the Mavis Clare Kennedy Trophy for outstanding work by a lacemaker under the age of 18.


Syllabus and Record Books are available for purchase through our online shop and cost £7.50 each (plus postage). A pdf extract from the Torchon Syllabus and Record book showing the requirements at Foundation Level is available for download here.


The next Assessments will take place in 2022 when we look forward to seeing your work. A timetable will be released in 2021.


Q1. How long would it take me to do an assessment? 

You can purchase your Syllabus and Record Book at any time from the online shop, and then enter when you are ready. The assessments are held every two years at present, the next is in 2020. 

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Q2. Can I enter for more than one level at a time? 

Yes you can, as long as your work shows progression, development and improvement. However it may be advisable to try one level first to see how it goes.


There are two options.  If you enter all the work for each level you will be awarded the full certificate for each level in which you are successful.  If you decide you only want the certificates for the higher level you still need to enter a portfolio of the techniques section for any lower level(s).  In this case you will only be awarded the certificate for the highest level. 


In either case, you must be aware that if you don't pass any aspect of a lower level the Assessors are unable to proceed with the assessment of the higher levels.  If you decide to enter more than one level you need to be extremely careful that you have entered all the required samples for the lower level(s) at a high enough standard. 

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Q3. Do I have to do a separate sample of lace for each technique?    

No! One piece of lace can show numerous techniques, as long as they are clearly listed and well presented in your portfolio. As some basic techniques will appear in many of the samples, make sure you choose which example you wish to be assessed and enter that page number in your Record Book.  Use your samples to try different thread and grid combinations as well as the techniques and make sure you keep notes about the suitability of a thread for the size of the grid.  You can use the results of your experiments to guide your choices of thread for your two finished pieces of lace.

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Q4. Does the lace for the Practical Skills modules have to be a particular size? 

No, but should reflect the assessment level which you are entering.  At Foundation level two small pieces of finished lace such as a bookmark and a small mat are enough.  At a higher level such small pieces might not reflect the complexity of work required.  Make sure that you include many of the techniques from the level you are working, and use different techniques in each of the two pieces.  Remember that your lace has to be posted to us, and photographed, so large tablecloths are not essential!  

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Q5. I don’t have a teacher — does that put me at a disadvantage? 

Not necessarily.  In each Syllabus Book is a glossary of techniques and if you aren't sure how to work anything you can contact the office and ask to be put in touch with a Mentor who will help you with any aspect of your assessment.

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Q6. My teacher has taught me a different technique from the one in the Syllabus and Record book — what should I do? 

If possible, produce samples using both methods and explain to the Assessors what you have done and why, and explain which you prefer and why.  There are many ways to produce the same end result and often there is no right or wrong; even the leading teachers have differences in the methods they teach.

Sometimes a method is traditionally more correct to use for a type of lace even though the different techniques might be interchangeable in practice.  An example of this would be the use of Cluny techniques in a Bedfordshire lace assessment.  If you aren't sure, ask a Mentor.

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Q7. Are there any rules on how to present my work? 

Both sides of your lace must be accessible, so do not stitch it down all the way around, or mount it in a frame. Do not use any glue or “Fray Check”. Neat work is always a pleasure to assess, for both your lace and your written work.

In your portfolio of techniques, samples with mistakes at the start are accepted (learning something new, or trying out threads, is the whole point of working a sample) but you must own up to them.  Having said that, there must be a majority of your sample without mistakes.

At Foundation level, a couple of isolated mistakes in your two finished pieces would not necessarily fail you but your proficiency is being examined, so don’t let too many mistakes spoil your chances.  For example, a couple of missed no-pin stitches in roseground would not be enough to fail you whereas overall poor tension with no errors would.

At the higher levels you are better to undo or re-make the piece of lace as your Practical Skills pieces should show the best work you are capable of doing!

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Q8. Am I expected to do any designing? 

There is an element of adapting and designing expected for the higher levels, but with many of the bobbin laces that is simply combining basic elements and stitches in different ways and you do not need to be scared by the thought.  For the Elementary assessments you may be asked to re-draft a pattern, just to show that you can transfer design details onto your pricking and “true it up”, and at Intermediate you may be encouraged to adapt patterns to give them a personal twist.

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Q9. Are there any ‘set’ pieces that I have to make? 

In general, no, as long as your lace shows the techniques required. There are suggested pieces for some of the assessments but none of them are compulsory.  Please be careful with thread/grid choices (see Q3), don’t make them all the same, and whilst white and ecru lace is beautiful to look at, and shows off your work well you can often use colour to good effect.  

The exception is in the Foundation and Intermediate Torchon Assessments where each level has a compulsory drafting element.  You will be sent a picture of the piece of lace and you have to draft the pattern for this, at Foundation level using graph paper and a pencil but if you have access to a computer drafting programme this is the only pattern which has to be done the traditional way.  From your draft you have to make a short sample of three or four repeats using exactly the same stitches, then continue on the same pricking for at least one further set of repeats using different stitches.  It is often possible to work three or four completely different combinations.  Make a comment which are most successful and why you think so.  At Intermediate level you are given variations to draft from the original pricking and told which pieces you must work samples for.

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Q10. Who are the assessors and the moderator? 

Just as you as a candidate are anonymous to them, they must be so to you! Be assured that each Assessor chosen by the Education Committee is an expert lacemaker and teacher. The Moderator is always an experienced assessor. If there are any queries regarding techniques, these will be referred to a further expert in that particular field.

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Q11. What do I get if I pass? 

Apart from a warm, fuzzy feeling of achievement, you will receive a certificate for each full section (see Q2). The following Lace magazine will feature an article, showing some of the lace and naming those who have passed, and any awards given, along with a report from the assessors.

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Q12. I feel I could tackle it now — what do I do next? 

If you have any further questions, ask to be put in touch with a Mentor.  If these FAQs have answered your questions, buy a Syllabus and Record Book in your chosen subject and go for it!

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Good Luck and Happy Lacemaking!

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