Ideas from existing lace

Wavy LaceLace with Serpent EdgingFlowers and gimps
Equal wiggles
Unequal wiggles
10 petals
11 petals

Original Lace

I bought this piece of lace because I liked the way the threads waved up and down. It is however rather ugly, with coarse threads and a distinctly confused idea of which thread goes where. I thought it would be fun to design a Torchon pattern based on the same idea. Josette Martin-Favelier, from Rully, Bourgogne, France has told me: This lace attracted my eye, because it looks very much like the peasant lace that is sometimes "Free Hand Lace" (i.e. without any pricking and with just a few pins on both sides) that can be found in Europe. The thread being coarse and the threads not following a certain regular pattern could be explained by the fact these laces were made "by heart", some of them being either "perfect" or regular, or if the lace maker was a beginner or less clever, they contained a certain amount of mistakes.

Narrow wavy lace pattern

I didn't get anywhere with this design until I treated the 2 pairs of wavy threads (dark blue in the pattern) as a sort of gimp, not part of the Torchon pattern proper, but weaving through part of the net.

The yellow and pink bits are in cloth stitch. The pink things are made with 6 pairs of threads, in two groups. You weave them through each other, like half a spider. (I haven't marked these threads in the pattern as it would look too confused). Then you weave pairs of threads through, with a triple twist in the middle. (These are marked in the pattern.) The pins marked are not covered, they are just there to help tighten the threads after the cloth stitch. When you've finished all the pairs of threads going through, weave the 3 pairs of threads back through the other 3, like the other half of the spider. Generally in this pattern, give the pairs of threads an extra twist if they have to cover an extra distance, like the base and edge of the fans.

This pattern has an attractive part twisted fan headside.

With single twisted footside, this takes 17 pairs of bobbins.

Narrow wavy lace photo

Wide wavy lace photo

The previous pattern was an attempt to mirror the original as closely as possible. This pattern puts in more net each side of the pattern. This stops the pattern and the fans from interfering with each other. Also, the fans are shifted along a bit so they are centred on the pink things rather than bracketing it. This looks more attractive, but has wandered considerably from the original. Still, I like it. It uses 21 pairs of bobbins.

It's strange that the best part of the original lace, the wavy threads, have got lost, while the fans and the other things (which I think look like flying saucers!) have improved. It might help if you made the wavy threads (dark blue on the pattern) a different colour to contrast with the white.

Wide wavy lace pattern

Simple serpent edging lace pattern

Serpent - equal wiggles

I visited the Cecil Higgins Art gallery in Bedford, which holds the Thomas Lester Lace collection. One of the pieces there had an interesting edging. I have tried to reproduce it in this piece. Now, I have not done much Bedford lace, so please don't think that this is an authentic design!

The edging is a serpent headside, a simple piece of cloth stitch, but when you work it, you need to turn the cushion one way, then the other, so the bobbins will always hang down. This means that you need a cushion where you can work it from any angle. There is one pair of worker bobbins, so you need to wind lots and lots of thread for these! The other bobbins tend to be taken in from one side, and then leave the other side to make the cross pieces, which are simple twisted threads. You may notice on the photo that to start with there are five cross pairs for each loop. However, later I cut this down to four cross pairs. This left an extra pair to pad out the turn, which I think makes it look better. That's the way that the pattern is given, anyway. It also stops the cross threads running right across the pattern all the time, which I also prefer.

There is a single pair from the edging to the main part of the design, and a single pair to the footside. The rest of the design is plaits joined with lazy joins.

22 pairs

Simple serpent edging photo

Second serpent edging lace photo

Serpent - equal wiggles

This is an extension of the same idea. Here, the serpentine edging has unequal wiggles. The pair of threads joining them was just twisted in the previous pattern, and were all parallel to each other. Here, some of them cross over in a simple Torchon Ground stitch, and the rest slope to produce a more interesting design (or at least I think so!)

The rest of the pattern is a fairly straight-forward Torchon design of a half stitch diamond, with cloth stitch half diamond either side. One pair of bobbins from the headside leave to join this cloth stitch, and then return to it again. To balance this, there is an extra pair of bobbins on the other side of the diamond, next to the twisted footside. You could leave this out, if you want, and then the number of pairs will be 20 rather than 21. The other non-orthodox part of the pattern is the straight edges running parallel to the footside. These require extra pin-holes, but are easy to work. The straight edge and the extra pair of bobbins give a different feel to this pattern.

On the headside, the pinholes should probably be picots. However, I dislike picots as I find them fiddly, so I just twisted the worker pair twice and put the pin in. This gives the 'loopy' feel without the work! But if you're more patient than me, by all means make them picots instead. For the straight edges of the rest of the pattern, I didn't twist the worker pair at all when putting the pin in, so the loops are much smaller if there at all.

Remember that this headside requires working due left, then down, then due right, like the previous pattern. This means that you must have a cushion that you can turn from one side to the other.

21 pairs

Second serpent edging pattern

Original Lace

I found this photo on Lace for Study - a splendid website with lots of high quality photos of old lace. I have done a little Bucks Point, and wanted to try some more, so this looked like a simple one to start. Big mistake!

10 petalled flower with gimp lace photo

10 petalled flower with gimp

I worked to a strict Bucks Point grid (yes, I know you're not supposed to do this!) I did my best, but once I started working it, I soon found that it was impossible to work one of the gimps as in the original. The gimp is worked between the 'petals' of the flower and back again, but this requires a combination of existing threads and threads you haven't got to yet. (I still can't work out how they did this!) So for the first flower, I removed the gimp round the flower altogether - that is the one at the top. I introduced the gimp for the second flower, and the rest, but just went round the flower rather trying to get between the petals. The gimp is a thicker thread, but doesn't show very well, alas. The second and third flowers have straightforward Torchon ground. The last two flowers had honeycomb stitch round the 'petals' and other holes. I have marked where every thread goes. The edge is supposed to be a trail headside. However, it all got rather messy, so instead of having a worker pair, I just put a pin between the very edge pair and the rest of the train, then worked the edge pair across the rest to join the rest of the pattern. When a pair needed to leave the pattern and rejoin the trail, I did the opposite - work it across the rest of the trail, then put a pin in, and left it at the edge (until it needed to leave again, or another pair got worked across it.) This does, I admit, leave rather a messy result, but needs less pinholes in the rather restricted space available!

This is not a particularly succesful attempt. But I leaned a certain amount. I've shown the whole final piece with my changes of mind in it, in case you prefer one or another of the attempts.

19 pairs + 4 gimps

10 petalled flower with gimp lace pattern
11 petalled flower with gimp lace photo

11 petalled flower with gimp

There were various things that I didn't like about my first attempt, so here I am trying to correct them. Since the gimp didn't show up well, I have made it red (and thicker than last time). The original pattern had tweleve petals. My first attempt had ten petals, so the 'stalk' of the flower could be half way along and the whole flower symmetrical. This pattern has eleven, and one petal missed out altogether. Finally, I worked out that you could run the gimp between the petals some of the time, if not at others, so I did. I didn't like either the trail or the line of holes along the two edges, so replaced them with cloth stitch triangles at the edges to highlight the flowers, although they are not quite triangles. For the rest of the patter, I have marked where the different threads go. The pale blue is Torchon ground, which makes Kat stitch, and the pink is honeycomb stitch. There are two gimps. The pattern is slightly assymetric, and you need to be careful when the two gimps cross over. One pair of threads goes from the point of one triangle to the other across the gimps.

I must admit that I like this pattern!

17 pairs + 2 gimps

11 petalled flower with gimp lace pattern

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© Jo Edkins 2002