Torchon lace usually has geometric patterns. Here are some attempts at animals.

Snake Spiders Butterflies Labybird Dogs Cats On another page
Snake Cobwebs
Spiders' webs
Double headside
Other way
Laybird Scottie dogs
Small scottie
Various dogs
Two cats
Cat in a corner
Sitting cat



You can get interesting effects by varying the size of zig-zags. Here is a snake.

The zigzags are cloth stitch and the ground is double Torchon ground with a twisted footside.

To make the snake coloured, you need to make sure that the worker bobbins are blue (or whatever colour you chose). This pattern introduces one coloured thread on each side (the idea was to make it look like the snake's forked tongue). This is shown on the pattern. Since you are only introducing a single coloured thread in each place, instead of a pair, you will need to knot the coloured thread with a white thread to make a pair to hang on the starting pin. Then work the coloured threads downwards in single Torchon ground rather than double, to keep them going straight. They meet at the top of the snake. Twist the threads so the coloured pair end up together, and use them as the worker pair.

The passive in the footside runs along the point at the top as well as along the edge. Hang two pairs at the pin below the top pin, and twist these round each other so they don't get separated when the pin is taken out. Do the same with the top pin. Then the rest of the threads get hung down the top diagonals, and work them across these inital threads.

22 pairs of bobbins including 2 blue threads which start in different pairs, and end up together.


Cobweb lace pattern

Cobweb Pattern

I wanted to make a very open pattern with half stitch bars and spiders, and a single twisted footside. There are cloth stitch and twist fans on the headside. There is one interesting stitch here. Next to the footside, there are half spiders. Two pairs of bobbins come in from the right, but only one pair from the footside itself. You work the footside pair through the other two pairs the same as a spider. The footside pair also has to come in for a dummy stitch before and after the spider.

I wanted to work this pattern in grey, for two reasons. In Geogette Heyer's book 'Powder and Patch', one of the characters has grey lace, and I wanted to see what the effect was. Also I had an email from a lacemaker in Monserrat, who explained that due to volcanic activity on the island and the ash in the air, their lace got dirty very quickly, so they worked in grey thread, so it didn't show! I think the final effect looks a little like cobwebs, so that's what I call it.

15 pairs of bobbins.

Cobweb lace photo

Spiders web lace pattern

Start of spiders web lace

Cobweb Pattern

The previous pattern accidentally looked like cobwebs. I thought that I'd try to make more realistic spiders' webs.

The webs are framed with cloth stitch fans. You could work the lace in all one colour, but I wanted to highlight the webs, so any threads which go into the webs are grey and the rest are dark green. There are 12 pairs of grey (6 each side) and 4 pairs of green (2 each side). One pair of green are the workers for each fan, and the other pair run along the very edge of the fan. I swapped over the worker for each fan, as workers use more thread and I had had wound equal thread on all the green bobbins, so wanted to use them evenly. The pattern naturally suggest this anyway. If you use the same pair of workers for all fans on one side, then you could even have just the two pairs of worker bobbins green, and the remaining 14 pairs of bobbins grey. It's up to you. The worker bobbins and the edge bobbins are twisted between the edge stitches which gives more strngth to the edge and makes a slight gap between the grey/green cloth stitch and the all green cloth stitch. This isn't necessary if you want to leave it out.

The middle of each web is, naturally, a spider. All the rest of the stitches are cloth stitch and twist, with each pair twisted again afterwards - a cloth stitch and two twists, if you like! Again, this isn't necessary for the pattern but it does tighten the pairs of threads into looking like a single thread, which helps the look, I think. The pins are a little peculiar. Usually for Torchon, you would expect the pin to go into the middle of the stitch, as in Torchon ground. But I didn't want the little holes in the middle of the stitch that produces. So I put the pins in outside the stitch, sometimes after the stitch between the pairs of bobbins, rather like a Bucks ground, and sometimes before. It depended on the web itself. You need the pin to stop the usual pulling of the threads to pull the web out of shape. The diagram on the right shows where the pins must go. For threads coming in on the slope, put the pin inside the web (after the stitch in the top half, before the stitch in the bottom half). But the top, side and bottom threads, put the pins outside the web (before the stitch at the top, after the stitch at the bottom and rather awkwardly at the side of the stitch for the sides). If you find this too difficult, by all means put the pin in the middle of the stitch as usual!

The other strange things about this pattern is how I started it and ended it. See left for the starting pins (red) and how many pairs of bobbins. Half the threads will hang downwards, as normal, to work the right top fan. The other half are worked across the top of the lace for the very top fan (you may need to turn the pillow through a right angle to do this). When you have worked that, turn the pillow back again, and the bobbins hang down normally to work the left top fan. At that point, you have all the bobbins in play, working normally. You end the lace in the same way, turning the pillow to work half the bobbins in the bottom fan. The best way to tie off the threads is similar to a mat, although you are tying together pairs of threads rather than tying one pair through a starting loop.

16 pairs of bobbins.

Pin positions for spiders web lace
Spiders web lace pattern

Butterflies headside

Butterflies pattern

Some of the fans on my fireworks lace looked a little like butterflies. This is a development of the concept. Half of a fan is cloth fan with the border in pale blue, while the other half is half stitch fan, with the pale blue pair worked as cloth stitch at the edge, to stop them working their way into the pattern. This is mirrored on the next fan to create the butterfly. There are twisted fans in between to high-light the butterflies better. The ground is rose ground with a twisted footside. There are cloth diamonds to start and finish.

I did design this pattern using my interactive lace designer, but it's quite a long pattern, so I've rotated it to show here. I've also cheated a little, copying the pattern to a Paint program to colour the fans, to remind me where to change the workers to make the butterfly.

12 pairs of bobbins

Butterflies picture

Butterflies double headside

Butterflies pattern

The previous pattern didn't really have enough butterflies in it, so for this pattern, I wanted to get as many as I can. Since the butterflies are caused by the shape of the headside, this has a headside on both sides. The threads of the workers are sparkly blue and green so they look like iridescent butterflies (I hope!). The green and blue swap on one edge to another to create the pattern.

The headsides are twisted fan headsides, but using cloth stitch rather than cloth stitch and twist. This gives a more filled in approach (and is easier to work). There is a blue pair along one edge and a green pair along the other. These are not workers. The workers are also green and blue, and these swap from one side to the other half way through the fan, using a cloth stitch with a pin in the middle. The rest of the passive threads are a neutral colour. They will go into the net in the middle, so they need to be a different colour for contrast, but not too strong or they will affact the colour of the butterfly. This means, of course, that the first half of the fan needs to be worked on one edge, then the first half on the other, before the swap other stitch could be made. (This would be true even if the lace was all one colour. The two points of the fan need to join somehow).

The net in the middle is simple Torchon ground. (I deliberately photographed it against a similar colour to the net to emphasise the butterflies.) I worked this net in a slightly different way to usual. Normally Torchon simple ground is worked as half stitch, pin, half stitch. This creates a little hole in the middle where the pin goes. I decided to put the pin in after the stitch was worked, between the two pairs, so the pin is left covered. So: two half stitches (or cloth stitch and twist), pin. It was quicker and quite easy to tighten up, but surprisingly enough, you can still see the hole!

12 pairs of bobbins.

Butterflies photo

Butterflies going the other way

Butterflies pattern

Once you have a headside on both sides of the lace, you can start having butterflies going the other way! Here the butterfly streches from one side of the lace to the other, with the headside fan forming one of the wings on each side. It is a very simple piece of lace to work, and effective, I think.

The headsides are cloth fan headsides. Most of the passives are green (or whatever background colour that you choose). The edge pair are white (to start with) and the worker pair are blue. The edge pair and the worker pair swap over at the end of each fan, so alternate butterflies are different colours. I used special sparkly thread for these butterfly colours to make them stand out. However, since the butterfly colours are white and darkish blue, you tend to see either one colour or the other more. It might have been best to make both the colours the same brightness, say red and blue, and leave the background as dark. The shape of the fan has a dip in the edge. This makes a better butterfly shape. You work it exactly like an ordinary fan, but just put the pins in slightly different places in the middle. I have also twisted each passive half way through. This slightly separates one side of the fan from the other. Butterflies actually have two wings on each side, and this is supposed to represent this. Since the fans on each side share the middle pin, you need to work the first first on one fan, then the first half of the other, then the central pin. That is a good point to remember to twist the passives! Then work the bottom halves of the fans.

The middle of the lace is rose ground.

12 pairs of bobbins.

Butterflies photo

Ladybird and aphids

Ladybird and aphids

I was asked why the only insect that got represented were butterflies. A challenge! Here is a ladybird (ladybug) with a few aphids. Ladybirds eat aphids....

There is a simple Torchon ground and Winkie pin twisted footside, which is continued round the start and end.

The aphids are dot ground, but with some lines of Torchon ground between to space them out. The ladybird is half stitch and cloth stitch. The cloth stitch is worked in two halves, so give the impression of the separate wings, so there are two worker pairs, one for each half. There are also holes in each wing, which involves four pairs of workers at this point!

The two wings have to be worked at the same time, as the workers have to work through each other, pin in the middle, and back again for the next row. I found it best to work the sides at the same time, just to check that I have the right number of threads in the ladybird, or the edge, at all points. It helps to work both sides at the same time, as you can therefore do the same thing to both sides. Sometimes it doesn't matter if you make mistakes, as long as the mistakes are symmetrical!

22 pairs of bobbins.

Ladybird and aphids

Scottie dogs

Dogs in Torchon lace

A correspondent asked me if I knew any patterns with dogs in Torchon lace. I didn't, and thought it would be quite hard. However, I had a go at designing my own pattern. and here it is.

There is a Twisted Fan Headside and simple Torchon ground. I have used a Winkie pin twisted footside. This was partly to keep the number of pins down, as I needed quite a lot to get the shape of the dog. When working the shape of the dog's feet, take the worker threads right across to the footside and back again.

The dogs themselves are worked as solid shapes in cloth stitch. The diagonals are simple, just follow the convetional diamond technique. However, there are a lot of horizontal and vertical lines, which are harder. The verticals (when working the lace) are the sides, and happen in the dog's body. Alternate rows pick up a pair of bobbins which immediately leave again. This means that you have to work ground stitches to get the next pair of bobbins ready! The other rows have no threads joining or leaving, which isn't common for solid shapes, but necessary here, or the lace won't have enough rows, and look sparse. The bottoms of the feet, although vertical (when working the lace) don't need extra pinholes as the workers go through the Winkie footside instead (see above).

The horizontals happen at the front of the boddy and the end. I tried to work the start threads by working two pairs of bobbins in cloth stitch without a pin, then putting the pin between the pairs after the stitch was worked. This was the space out the threads a little for the shape. When they leave the shape, I worked the two pairs as half stitch, pin, half stitch, which is equivalent to a cloth stitch and twist with the pin in the middle. I don't know that these were particularly successful. The shapes need a lot of tightening, and as you can see, I sometimes forgot! They are supposed to be Scottie dogs, by the way. The big dogs are better than the puppies, which don't have enough threads to really define the ears or tail.

25 pairs of bobbins.

Dogs in Torchon lace

Small scottie

Dog in Torchon lace

I wasn't happy with the small scottie, so I tried a different way.

The net is Bucks Point ground. I have used Winkie pin twisted footside. The dog is worked as solid shapes in cloth stitch, but this time I tried using gimp threads. Normally a gimp is a thicker thread which is not part of the normal grid, but worked in between the line of pins. It surrounds a shape to emphasise it. I used a pair of threads rather than a single thicker one. They are only used for the figure itself.

Dog in Torchon lace
Dog in Torchon lace showing gimp The diagram on the left show the correct way up to work the pattern. Work the lace down to the dog itself. Then wind two extra pairs, and hang them from the nose of the dog (shown in blue). These pairs will follow the pink line. Work the worker pair across them for the cloth stitch just like the other threads. The main problem is the pairs joining and leaving the cloth stitch. To join the shape, a pair must work across the gimp threads to go inside them. On leaving, again a pair must work across the gimps first. Normally the gimps stay inside the pins defining the shape, but occasionally at the outside corners it seemed to help the shape if they went outside the pins, with the workers. To finish the shape off, work the left pair of gimps right across the other pairs to the right. Then work the right pair across the same threads to the left. (This is shown on the diagram by a double pink line.) Twist all threads. Then carefully cut the gimps and remove the bobbins.

20 pairs of bobbins + two extra pairs for the gimp.

Various dogs

Dogs in Torchon lace

Here is another attempt. I concentrated on the head of the dog, and tried to represent four different types of dog. The top one is a dog with floppy ears, possibly a labrador. Then we have the Scottie again. Then perhaps a terrier. Finally a long nosed dog like a grey hound.

The net is Bucks Point ground. This does not have the little holes which are a little distracting in Torchon ground. I have used Winkie pin twisted footside again. The dogs themselves are worked as solid shapes in cloth stitch. As an additional flourish, the eyes are worked as raised tallies. The cloth stitch is worked down to the top of the eye. Then a pin is put in between the two pairs that are going to be used for the tally. (I forgot this for the top dog's head, which is why the cloth stitch has been pulled out of shape a little.) Now the two pairs are carefully lifted out of the way. I hung them off the back of the pillow (beware pins!) The rest of the threads continue working cloth stitch until they reach the bottom of the eye. Now the two pairs are retrieved (carefully!) back to their original position. They are worked as a tally until you reach the bottom of the eye. Put in another pin between the two pairs. Now continue to work the cloth stitch, including the two pairs in their original position. The tally sticks up above the cloth stitch, which is why it's called a raised tally. It only appears on one side of the lace.

19 pairs of bobbins.

These dogs, and the cats below, are quite tricky to work. You need to tighten the threads often. You can see from the pictures that I wasn't always successful!

I don't think these patterns are suitable for beginners.

Dogs in Torchon lace

Two cats

Cats in Torchon lace Cats in Torchon lace

If I've done dogs, then I've got to try cats! The obvious thing is to concentrate on the eyes. The cat on the left is a long haired cat, which looks as if it has a much broader face, although it is really just fur. The right-hand cat is a short-haired cat. Their names are Nutmeg and Rosie, and they belong to a friend of mine.

The net is Bucks Point ground. I have used Winkie pin twisted footside again. The cats themselves are worked as solid shapes in cloth stitch. The mouth of the left cat was done by twisting the passived at the right place. The right cat's nose was made by miniature chevrons, similar to the eyes.

Cats in Torchon lace showing gimp The eye is made by separating the threads as in a upwards chevron, and then closing them again in a downwards chevron. To make the pupil of the eye, take the workers from each side of the eye, and work them across across each other in a cloth stitch. There is no need for a pin. The workers end up on the opposite side of the eye, and carry on being workers on that side.

20 pairs of bobbins.

Cat in a corner

Cat in a corner lace pattern Cat in a corner lace photo

I wasn't happy with the cats above, so this is a different attempt. The cats ears are a different shape and the eyes are further apart. It is worked as a triangular corner.

Before I started, I made a diagram to show exactly how all the threads went, to make sure that I did enough rows, and separated the right threads at the right point (see right). It did help! The eyes are upwards chevron and then and then closing them again in a downwards chevron, as in the previous patterns.

The weird things either side of the cat in pale blue are a new design that I was trying out, called dots. Click here to see how to do it. It's rather like triangular ground, except I worked both sides across to the opposite pin and back again. All stitches are cloth stitch. The lines on the pattern show where the threads go. The idea was to have a densely worked area which wasn't too big.

Once I'd finished the lace, I sewed it on some yellow material, so it would give the cat yellow eyes. The lace did curl up badly at the corners, but it was OK once I'd sewn it onto the material.

19 pairs of bobbins.

Cat in a corner lace pattern

Sitting cats

Sitting cat pattern

Torchon ground, single twisted footside, and solid cloth stitch of various types. This is surrounded by gimps. Rather than normal gimps, they are pairs of different coloured thread, being worked in cloth stitch.

This was an attempt to copy an Art Deco design that I found in a catalogue. One problem was that my original design was far too complicated, so I was frantically simplifying it while I was workin (never a good idea!) I messed up the top of the head, between the ears, and the pattern used to have the gimps going under the chin, which would have probably been a good idea. The tail is all wrong, and too short.There are two mistakes in the cloth stitch... More important, I twisted the pairs leaving the solid cloth stitch, which pushed the gimps too far away from the cloth stitch. Oh well. Perhaps you'll do better!

27 pairs of bobbins + 4 gimp pairs

Sitting cat lace photo

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© Jo Edkins 2009