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Pattern 81 - Tallies as flowers

Picture of lace

This was my first attempt at tallies, and, I think, demonstrates all the things you can do wrong with them (apart from over-tightening so badly that the whole thing has to be unpicked and done again - you can't see where I did that!)

   Pattern of lace

Bobbins: 14 pairs

Style: English Midland

   plait (grey)
   tally (green)
   lazy join - 6 pairs
   cloth stitch
   half stitch

   trail headside (red)
   half stitch bud (blue)


Follow the links above for explanation of how to work the different parts of the lace.

The pairs all start very close together, in the line of 4 pinholes right at the top of the lace. 6 pairs go left to make the left trail headside, and 6 pairs go right for the other side. The remaining two pairs are used to make the first tally (green).

The trail headside starts with 5 passive pairs and 1 worker pair (on each side), but two passive pairs leave to make the next tally on that side. Once all three tallies are worked to the right length, they are joined in a Lazy Join - 6 pairs. The bottom 3 tallies of the top flower are then worked to the right length. The side tallies join the trail headside in the right place and stay there for a bit. The bottom tally carries on to the half stitch bud. 2 pairs (on each side - making 4 in all) leave the trail after a bit to join the bud. They leave the bud after a couple of rows to rejoin the trail, and the whole thing is repeated. Essentially, whenever the working in the centre of the lace needs a pair or two, it gets them from the trail, and whenever it doesn't need them any more, they leave to return to the trail. Trails are used this way in Midland lace, to hide surplus pairs!

Tallies are tricky. Click here to see how to work them. That description contains a lot of mistakes you can make with tallies, all taken from this pattern! You must work enough rows, or the tally seems sparse. There must not be too many rows, as this makes the tally too long when you come to join it in a lazy join, or attach it to the headside. The tally must have a good control of width. Either all rows must be the same length (square tally), or they must start narrow, get wider, then tail off again (like a flower petal). You probably should do one or other of these for a given pattern, but at least you must get every tally the same shape, even if it's the wrong shape!

There are a couple of things you can do to help yourself. First - try keeping the 4 bobbins (2 pairs) in your hands at all times, rather than putting individual bobbins down on the pillow and picking them up again. This makes it far easier to tighten the threads the right amount (and that is the key to a good tally). Second - a tally is a single thread (not a pair) weaving backwards and forwards to make a dense woven pattern. It is tempting to make this single worker thread end up at the end of the row when tightening. In fact, it is better to tighten them when the worker thread is inside the others. It seems to stop you over-tightening the worker thread, and that is fatal! Unpicking time....