Lace Lesson #16 - Pattern comparison/ reading/ understanding

Discussion in 'Textiles, Needle Arts, Clothing' started by Northern Lights Lodge, Jun 4, 2020.

  1. Northern Lights Lodge

    Northern Lights Lodge Well-Known Member

    Hi everyone,
    I hope this will be a quick lesson reviewing bobbin lace patterns; how you read them and understanding what you are looking at, as it relates to a finished piece. No matter how simple the design or how complex - it all ultimately boils down to twisting and crossing 4 threads at a time!

    The first is a typical Torchon bobbin lace pattern. A straight or "continuous" lace.
    torchon patternB.jpg
    These three side by side images are from left:
    The technical drawing
    The pattern
    Photo of finished piece of Torchon lace (which is one of the most basic forms of bobbin lace)

    The technical drawing (which may or may not be in color) explains where pairs of bobbins are hung, and where each type of stitch is made and where "extra" twists are made. It is literally a "road map".

    The pattern itself; can be made in any size based on what size thread a person wishes to use. In this case the thread was probably about a size 40 or 50...

    And, last of course, the finished lace as made on the pattern.

    Within each pattern; there is room for some variety and alternate stitches. In this case the ground (green) is a simple Torchon ground utilizing 2 pair of bobbins and using the movements: twist, cross, pin, twist cross. Alternate ground - for example could be: twist, twist, cross, pin, twist cross. That would result in a slightly tighter looking ground.

    The design elements are worked in cloth stitch (shown in red) and half stitch (shown in blue). Cloth stitch (also known as whole stitch) is worked utilizing 2 pair of bobbins repeating the movements: cross, twist, cross and moving the worker pair to repeat the movements with the next pair. Half stitch is worked utilizing 2 pairs of bobbins repeating the movements: twist, cross and then repeating the movements with the next pair.

    In this particular pattern, the cloth stitch and half stitch could be interchangeable; or one could use cloth stitch or half stitch for each/all of the design elements.

    Now for those of you who may know a little: there are some nuances; largely WHERE and WHEN extra twists are placed... I'll leave it with; it is the difference between teaching it in a European or an American manner. BOTH methods result in exactly the same stitches; but for a new lace maker it could be confusing. Extra twists can also be used as a design element - discussed in the Withoff lace example.

    If you compare any whole or "continuous" lace... the patterns will look very much as this one with design elements and ground... no matter which style lace; Chantilly, Beds, Valenciennes... the list continues.

    Moving on to pieced or "non-continuous" lace. This is a Withoff Duchesse design by Sr. Judith. Lesson #14 highlighted Withoff laces.
    withof patternA.JPG
    I don't happen to have the "technical" drawing for this design; but since it requires a much higher skill level than that of Torchon; much of this pattern is obvious to the lace maker. There is only the barest of indicators as to how the pattern is to be worked. So, within that line drawing the lace maker has the opportunity to use what ever stitches and ground that she feels is pleasing to the pattern. The grid for the ground would be added to the pattern prior to working the piece... and could be suited to what ever ground she prefers to add.

    Withof Duchesse is one lace that is definitely worked from the back side. The next photo shows the piece "in progress". Sorry it is blurry...but you can see where the pinhole grid has been added to the pattern.
    withof BB.JPG
    And here you see the completed piece...from the top side. withof complete A.JPG

    You can see some fine details that really make Withoff special. Compare the below pic with the one above: Thread used in this piece was probably about 120 weight cotton; making it less than half the size of the thread used in the Torchon example. The actual size of this piece is: 3 1/4" high x not quite 3 1/2" wide. withofcompare.jpg

    1. The shading of the half stitch marked with "x's" in the technical drawing - how it draws up closer to itself as an area narrows.
    2. (between the 3 circles) Th use of a SINGLE twist of the worker pair as it works across the row of cloth stitch in the leaf.
    3. The shading of cloth stitch as it is spread out in the widest part of the leaf and is denser when all those pairs are narrowing at the bottom of the leaf.
    4. This little decorative open area is purely at the discretion of the lace maker as there is no indication that it should be used on the pattern.
    5. The use of picots along that outer edge are also purely at the discretion of the lace maker.
    6. This is that "rib" used in Withoff and other laces; which enable the lace maker to move pairs from one location to another... it gives a wonderful shading and 3-D element to Withoff (and other laces).
    7. (Up near #1) This is another nuance provided by the lace maker which is not on the pattern. That side of the leaf is worked primarily in half stitch; but the lace maker has chosen to utilize several pairs on the edge and do several stitches of cloth stitch which gives it another form of shading.
    8. These are design element "holes" which are found on the pattern. However, they are worked in different sizes; by design or accident.
    9. A large open area design element which is on the pattern; is worked simply by using connecting bars. An area this large would be too floppy and unstable if not supported somehow. Grid could also be utilized; however in this case, it was indicated as bars.
    10. These tiny little holes are necessary to turn the pairs around the scroll; how many are visible and where they are placed is a fine tune by the lace maker.
    11. The ground...not particularly well worked in as much as it wanders around too much... the lines should all go in a straight path no matter where they are headed!
    12. Last, I failed to number it on the photo; but the heavy outline threads should be noted. Some, (like the ones that run down the middle of a leaf) are worked to about the halfway point of the leaf ie: after working one side of the leaf; the bundled threads would work down the center; then the second side of the leaf would be worked OVER that bundle. The result is that the bundle is pushed from the backside (which would remain flat); to the topside which now sees the bundle as slightly raised from the body of the work.

    Non-continuous laces also include; Bruges Blumwork, Cantu and Honiton among others. These patterns also look similar in terms of description: a line drawing - usually floral, with large open areas which require gridwork (which may or may not be seen on the pattern). And again; no matter how simple or complex - all bobbin lace is based on twisting and crossing 4 threads at a time.

    Depending on the particular lace; pin holes may be pricked in advance...Honiton is one; but others (like Cantu and Withof) are not and therefore; the lace maker must decide as she/he works where each hole should be placed to be advantageous for the design.

    It is not only important for pins to be placed (exactly on) in a curved or straight line; but spacing is important. It is also important to know when to place a pin on a slight angle, so it works against the torque of the thread pulling against it. In other instances; it is important to place it exactly straight up and down.

    All extremely small nuances; but these things can determine the overall appearance of a piece of lace... well worked, crisp, clean, eye appeal...

    Ok... over and out for now. Cheerio!
  2. moreotherstuff

    moreotherstuff Izorizent

    You need an ordered mind to handle that.
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