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Torchon heart

A heart is a solid shape used in Torchon lace (although I first saw it in Downton lace). It can be worked in either cloth stitch or half stitch. The effect of the two are different, but they are worked the same except for the stitches. See heart patterns.

heart pattern
Pattern representation of a heart

This pattern shows a small heart (long sides 5 pins, short sides 3 pins). It is possible to have bigger hearts - there is one above which has long sides 7 pairs and short sides 4 pairs. I hope you can see how to adapt the following explanation for those.

This diagram avoids the complexities of the individual stitches by showing each pair of threads as a single line. Where one line crosses another, you should work it in cloth stitch or half stitch.

The number below shows the number of pairs actually part of the heart at each row. This number changes for different rows, and getting too many or too few pairs in a row is a common mistake.

Bobbin lace heart

Repeat Step Back

Working: Work the lace above the heart (such as ground). Do not work the edge pins of the heart yet. In a heart, you work rows of stitches. The first row, at the top of the heart, is just a stitch between two pairs of bobbins. Chose one pair (it doesn't matter which) to be the worker pair. There are four stages to working a heart. The first two parts are similar to a strip - you work rows of increasing length, picking up one new pair at the end of each row, until you meet the first corner, then rows of equal length, taking in a pair on one side and discarding it from the other, until you reach the next corner, which is the mid-point of the heart. At this point you need to work some ground, or other lace, taking up the pairs discarded from the heart, and working down to the point where they are ready to re-enter the heart. The bottom part is similar to the top, but the other way round - equal length rows until the next corner, then shorter rows until you are left with the final two at the last pin, which are worked across each other to cover the pin.

If you get to the bottom row, and have less or more than two pairs, then you have made a mistake. You will have to undo the lace to see where you have dropped off or picked up more than one pair, or where you forgot. Keep an eye on where pairs of threads need to join or leave the heart.

Different widths

A heart is a small zigzag which starts and stops either side of a single turn. This means that it will have the same problem as zigzags, where the top half has different number of pairs than the bottom half. Do not worry about this! It does not show, and when you get to the bottom, all pairs will come out of the heart in the correct place. If you really want the same number in each half, then you need to repeat the middle row, from point to inside of the bend, and reuse the pin a second time (by looping the pair round the back of the pin when it is already in place). But to tell the truth, if I was you, I wouldn't bother!


Cloth hearts can be coloured the same way as cloth diamonds, by having the workers as a different colour.

Torchon heart