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Spider with 8 legs

Spider next to solid half stitch and solid cloth stitch

A spider is a decorative effect in Torchon lace where 4 or more pairs meet. The pairs form the legs before and after the centre, or body. This is an 8 legged spider, with 4 pairs. See pattern 6.

Spiders are usually set next to solid areas, as in the example above. However it is possible to have a spider in ground. It does tend to disappear, but gives an effect of a small dot.

Please note that the leg of a spider is a twisted pair of threads. This should not be confused with a plait, which can be called a leg in English Midland lace.

Pattern for spider
Spider pattern

You can see that the spider fits within a diamond of pins. Unlike solid areas, you do work up to and including these surrounding pinholes before starting on the spider. The threads from the points of the diamond of pins are not actually involved in the spider at all.

A peculiarity of the 8 legged spider is that although this is a Torchon design, the middle pin is not on the normal Torchon grid. Instead, it is half-way between where you would expect pins to go (in, say, Torchon ground).

This diagram shows each thread as a line. The stitches used in this spider are twist single pair and cloth stitch. The details of each stitch are not shown in detail below - follow the links in the previous sentence if you are not familiar with them.


Repeat Step Back

Working: First work all lace above the spider, down to and including, the framing pins.

Work out the pairs that will form the spider. This is an 8 legged spider, so there will be 4 pairs, 2 on each side. Twist each pair several times - I do at least 6 each.

Take the second pair from the left (just before the middle), and work it across the two pairs on its right in cloth stitch. It will end up on the far right.

Take the left pair, and work it across the same two pairs, again in cloth stitch. Do not work it across the previous worker pair! (This is a common error.) You will have worked 4 stitches, 2 in each row, and the bobbins on the left are now the bobbins on the right.

Put the pin in the middle of all those bobbins. Spiders can end up a bit of a mess at this stage, so make sure that you have placed the pin correctly. There should be two pairs to the pin's left and two pairs to its right, and rather a mess of stitches above the pin. It is definitely worth tightening the threads at this stage by tugging the bobbins gently.

Take the third pair from the left (the most recent worker pair) and work it back across the two pairs to its left, still in cloth stitch. Then take the pair on the right (the first worker pair), and again, work it back across the two pairs (making sure that you do not work three pairs instead, again!) The bobbins should now all be in their original order, but they have all gone round the pin on the other side to where they started, and finished.

Twist all pairs the same number of times as at the start (e.g. 6 times). That is now the end of the spider. You can try tightening everything again, but it tends to untighten because there is nothing to tighten against. But you can get rid of loops and make it look a bit tidier by tightening, which is a good thing. Do the lace underneath the spider, and retighten once you have a pin to tighten against, and the spider should spring into shape.