Joins and Twists

Joining lace
Joining thread
Beads and sequins
On another page in this website
Junctions or crossovers of tallies, etc.


It's easy to assume that you fit the different parts of a lace pattern together by just working each bit, but it can be more complicated than that.

Cloth diamond

Parts of the lace tend to start and end with twists. That seems easy to do, but you need to think about it. Take a diamond. For a cloth diamond, you will need to remember to twist the threads leaving the diamond (left), but a half stitch diamond will already have twisted the threads as part of the last stitch in the row, so you don't need to do it again (right). However, you may prefer to twist the threads more than once. This will strengthen the surrounds of the diamond, and it will also highlight the diamond more. While you are learning lace, you can practise doing more, or less, twists, and seeing the effect, and chosing which you prefer. But if the threads are twisted once or twice coming from the diamond, they need to be twisted the same amount going into the diamond. This will depend on the previous stitches, above the diamond. Look at the bobbins before starting to work the diamond, see if they're twisted already, and twist them the right amount if necessary.

There is also the complication of whether (and how many) twists you do at the end of each row of the diamond. You can do no twists at all. The diagram (left) show one twist. You can do more. Pins tend to produce a little hole in the finished lace. Several twists will make this hole bigger, no twists gives a smoother edge. Experiment, and work out which you prefer!

Half stitch diamonds (right) do have another point to think about. A row of half stitch does not have a worker pair, as such. But one single thread does travel across the row. While the workers in the diagram seem to have a twist, really this is just part of the last half stitch of the row. You can make an additional twist, if you want. But if you do, then the single thread travelling across the diamond in the last row will also travel across the diamond for this row as well. You may want this. If it's a different colour to the rest of the diamond, then it will colour the whole diamond (and the same thing happens for half stitch fanas as well - see the top Torchon flower pattern). But it does use a lot of thread, and the bobbin may run out before other bobbins. No extra twist (or two extra twists) changes which bobbin travels across the row, which spreads the use.

Cloth diamond

Spiders are annoying since their legs need several twists, three or even more. I usually use six! The threads before the spider may have one twist already, created by previous stitches. Then you notice that it's a spider, so have to give several more! There are times when I have lost count, and solemnly untwisted the bobbins, just so I can twist them up again the right amount (probably unnecessary, but you know what lacemaking's like!) Really, with several twists, it is unlikely that one more or less twist will be noticeable. Forgetting to twist spiders legs at all will be noticeable, though.

Rose ground has another problem. There are cloth stitch and twists at the corners of each rose ground stitch. That means when you start rose ground, you need to do two cloth stitch and twists before the stitches with pins (one on each side), and do two cloth stitch and twists after as well. But any rose ground below the top ones doesn't need these top cloth stitch and twists, as they have already been done for the stitch above. There is only one cloth stitch and twist between two rose ground, not two. You may be tempted to think of a rose ground as two cloth stitch and twists and then the pin stitches, ignoring the bottom two cloth stitch and twists (as they will be done as part of the next stitch). That works for most of the rose ground, but the bottom row will require the the bottom two cloth stitch and twists to be worked, or you'll forget them, and that particular mistake does tend to be noticeable.

Rose ground
Torchon ground

The net or ground in lace will also need twists before it starts start. These may be provided automatically by the previous part of the pattern or you might need to twist them yourself. Both types of Torchon ground do, at least, end with a twist, so you won't have to do an extra one before starting the next part of the pattern.

Bucks Point ground is either half stitch and twist, or half stitch and two twists. Half stitch and twist means that the threads zigzag to left and right. Half stitch and two twists means that some threads go diagonally across the lace, which gives a firmer and more symmetrical effect.

bucks point

It can also be useful to give an extra twist or two at the edge of lace, either headside or footside. There may be a twist anyway, but an extra twist will give a firmer edge. Within a pattern, more than one twist makes a strong single line out of the pair of threads, which can also push the lace on either side further apart, or highlight them better. It doesn't always work! In some headsides (such as fans), extra twists at the edge will give a frilly edge to the lace, looking a bit like picots (without the work that real picots would involve).

Don't worry too much about all this. Doing two twists rather than one (or three rather than two) probably won't show much. Doing none at all, when you should do at least one, will be more noticeable, but it's surprising what you can get away with. Generally speaking, before starting a new part of the pattern, look at the pairs of threads and see if they are twisted. If not, twist them. If you are within part of a pattern, experiment with numbers of twists, and remember, you can get away with a lot of things in lace, as long as you are consistent. Once you twist a number of times in a particular place, carry on doing that for the rest of that piece of lace.

One final points about the word 'twist'. Here I have used it to mean 'twist one pair of bobbins'. Lace stitches usually use two pairs, and 'twist' then means 'twist both pairs'. Cloth stitch and twist, for example, means cloth stich, then twist both pairs. There is a way of defining lace stitches which build them up out of 'cross' and 'twist'. If you are doing a stitch using two pairs, then there are only two movements you can make. You can lift the second bobbin over the third (these are the middle two bobbins, and belong to different pairs), and this is a cross. Or you can lift the second over the first (one pair) and the fourth over the third (second pair), and this is a twist. See the Lace Stitches for more on this.

Joining lace

Joining two part of the same piece of lace in Torchon is not really a join, as you work the top piece, then move onto the piece below, and all you need to do is add a twist (or not!) There are specific stitches in Midland lace for joining two parts of a pattern. Midland lace, like English Maltese, tends to have legs or brides, made of plaits. These tend to cross other legs, and there is a special stitch, called a lazy join or windmill. Click here to see how to do it.

If you are working an edging with corners, you may want to join the end to the beginning. Or you may wish to add one piece, such as an edging, to another, such as the middle of a mat, to make a bigger mat. Click here for a discussion of this.

Different pieces of lace can be joined together using a crochet hook. Click here to see how to do it.

Some types of lace, such as Honiton, make small pieces, called motifs, then join them together afterwards with legs or brides. I'm afraid that this website does not cover this type of lace.

Joining thread

You may wish to join two threads together. Perhaps a thread broke, or you've run out of thread on one bobbin. Click here for a neat way to do this.

Beads and Sequins

A technique for adding beads and sequins to lace is described here.

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© Jo Edkins 2006