Corners in lace

 Once you are fairly confident in making lace, you will probably like to make something that you can use or give to someone else. One possibility is to make a lace corner. This is a triangle of lace which you can then sew onto a hankerchief or mat or even table cloth. You can cut the corner off the square of material and replace it with the lace (see left), or you can sew the lace onto the material, if it is worked in a contrasting material (see right). You can have a lace corner in each corner of the material if you wish. The advantage of this is that you don't have to work much lace (especially if you only do one corner), and the working will be more interesting than working an edging to go right round the hankerchief. The disdvantage is that you have to learn how to do corners!

Simple triangles

There are two ways to do these triangles. The first is simple. Torchon lace likes diagonals. In fact, the easiest way to start a piece of lace is along a diagonal. If you imagine a strip of lace, draw a diagonal away from the footside, then back towards the footside again. In the diagram on the left, the footside is in pale blue, and the diagonals are in red. You start working the lace along the top diagonal until you reach the bottom diagonal, then you stop. You sew the footside to the material, and there you are - a corner!

Is it that simple? Well, certain patterns might not make attractive corners, or you might not even be able to draw diagonals where you want them. More seriously, the diagonals are going to be the 'headsides' of your corner, and diagonals do not make good headsides. I have tried to work out solutions to this below. Another problem is that you will probably have a limit to the number of bobbins that you are happy with work with, and this will limit the width of your corner.

Simple corner with heart

The diagram on the left shows how you work this lace, with the footside going stright downwards as usual. It is easy to work, and you don't need to turn the pillow while working the entire lace. The photo on the right shows the lace turned ready to be sewn onto the corner of a piece of material.

The diagonal is worked as a cloth stitch strip. There are false pinholes for you to introduce the pairs of threads along the diagonal. The footside is in fact worked without passives. If you twist the edge threads enough, it seems to be strong enough, but if you prefer, you can have a more conventional footside. There is triangular ground, a half stitch heart and a spider. You introduce more and more bobbins as you work down the top diagonal, until you reach the corner. Then you lose the bobbins a pair at a time all along the bottom of the diagonal. I have tied off the finished pairs with reef knots and trimmed the ends quite short.

16 pairs. This piece of lace is quite small and quick to work. I made it in thick thread so I could make it bigger!

Simple corner with 12 legged spider

I started and finished this lace in a different way. I realised that these corners used very little thread, so I had all this wasted thread on my bobbins. Lace sometimes looks attractive if you knot the ends of the finished threads with overhand knots. However these corners would look a bit weird if they started with a smooth edge, but finished with a fringe. So I decided to start them with a fringe as well. I took the bobbins that I cut off the last pattern, and knotted them together with overhand knots. Then I hung these from the starting pins ( which are false pinholes again) and carried on in the normal way. It was a bit tricky getting the knots to settle in the right place, and I'm not too sure that this idea works! But I give you my mistakes as well as successes for you to learn from. Start and finish it as the previous lace if you prefer.

Most of this is rose ground. There are zigzags round the 12 legged spider. The footside is again without passives. If you twist the edge threads enough, it seems to be strong enough, but if you prefer, you can have a more conventional footside.

17 pairs.

Simple corner with fans

Both the previous pieces of lace started at the edge. That means that any knots were at the edge, which means that they are more likely to be visible. This lace starts in a different way. The red dots show where the threads begin. But you don't start with one pair of threads. There are two pairs (or in the case of the top pin, 3 pairs) which start at each red dot. Wind them round each other so they don't pop apart once the pin has been removed. Once you start working the lace, one pair will go into the next door fan. The other pair goes towards the ground. When the lace has finished, then two pairs get tied together with a reef knot at one of the lower red dots. This can be tricky. It's easy to work too much of the lace, so the place where you are tying the knot is surrounded by pins, and the knot gets caught in the pins!

The ground is simple Torchon ground. There are small cloth diamonds and a larger cloth heart. The footside is again without passives. If you twist the edge threads enough, it seems to be strong enough, but if you prefer, you can have a more conventional footside.

17 pairs.

Complex triangles

This is a more complicated way of doing a triangle. You produce the design for a triangle as above, then mirror it to produce a second triangle by its side (see left). This is the technique for designing a mat or corner, but only the bare triangle of the corner is kept.

The advantage of this is that you can create a bigger triangle with the same number of bobbins. The length of the diagonal in the previous patterns becomes the length of the shorter sides of the triangle with this method. Another advantage is that the threads begin at the part of the lace that gets sewn to the material, and so it can be tucked under, or hidden, if the terminating knots are too prominent. With the simpler method, above, the threads end at the edges not sewn to the material, so they are a lot more visible, and unattractive if you make a mess of it.

A disadvantage of this method is that you have the centre of the design, where the green line is. Most Torchon designs cannot cross this green line. You can have simple Torchon ground, or the edge of rose ground (not the centres). You cannot have any solid areas, such as zigzags, diamonds or hearts, crossing the green line. Spiders are impossible as well. So although you have a larger area for the same number of bobbins, you have less freedom in planning a design.

Complex corner with diamonds

The bobbins for this pattern are hung from the pale blue dots along the diagonal edge. There is one pair for each pin. Then when you have worked each pair of threads into the pattern, you can remove this relevant pin (marked by a pale blue dot), and pull the threads through to make a neat start. Click here for the technique. Work the lace up to the pale blue line. It is a standard Torchon pattern, so this shouldn't be a problem. Then turn the pillow, and work the other half. The threads end at the pale blue crosses. I have finished them with a reef or square knot. An overhand knot wouldn't work, as you don't want a fringe. It would only be along half the edge, and look rather silly! Hopefully, when you sew the corner onto fabric, you can hide these knots.

There are cloth fan headsides and half stich fan headsides along the edge. I have done one edge as cloth stitch and the other as half stitch. You can make them all the same, if you prefer. There are two contrasting cloth and half stitch diamonds - again, you can make them both the same stitch. The ground is rose ground and a little Torchon ground to fill gaps. The rose ground crosses the centre line, which help to break it up.

One rather odd effect in this lace is that the rose ground has made one side of the diamonds, especially the half stitch diamond, look like a cross. I didn't intend this! If you don't like this effect, then make both diamonds cloth stitch, or replace the rose ground with simple Torchon ground.

18 pairs.

Small complex corner

This is a similar pattern to the lat one, but smaller. It's experimenting with colour.

It starts and ends with two lines of Torchon ground to simulate a footside.

There are cloth fan headsides along the edge. The workers start as yellow, with the edge pair as red. These swap between each fan to give fans of apparently differently colours. Both diamonds are half stitch. This requires a little thought to colour. Every row of half stitch has a single thread (not a pair) which travels along the row. So first make sure that there is one different coloured thread to do this, and that it starts in the right place. Then at the start of each row, make sure that this different coloured thread is not the end thread, but the end-but-one. This will make it be the thread which travels across the row.

There is also a little rose ground and two spiders.

12 pairs.

Complex corner with flower

The bobbins for this pattern are hung from the pale blue dots along the diagonal edge. There is one pair for each pin. Work the lace up to the pale blue line. Turn the pillow, and work the other half. The threads end at the pale blue crosses. See previous pattern for a longer explanation.

There are twisted fan headsides along the edge. There are two cloth diamonds. The ground is Torchon ground.

The flower is made of cloth stitch. The two top petals (near the diagonal edge) starts similar to diamonds. When the petals touch, twist each worker pair, half stitch, pin, half stitch. This swops over the worker pairs so they continue on the other petal. Work four rows back and forth until the petals touch again, and do the same. There are three touches altogether. The other two petals in the top half are worked differently. The third petal is worked as a normal strip until you reach the bottom edge. Then the pairs of bobbins at the 'points' are each twisted, then half stitch, pin, half stitch, which positions them for the first row of the fourth petal.You can put pins in at the gaps between the third and fourth petals if you want, but it may not be necessary. At the centre of the flower, cross the two centre pairs over. I used a cloth stich and twist, pin, cloth stitch and twist, but you could just do half stitch, pin, half stitch.

This flower was inspired by sixteenth century tapestry patterns. I was quite pleased at the way it turned out. While this pattern is really a modified corner, as all the complex corners are, the flower produces a strong pattern across the corner. It can do this as the gaps between the petals line up with the middle line to the corner.

22 pairs.

Complex corner with zigzags

 The cloth fan headsides leading to the square corner are conventional, while the ones along the sloping side use the wiggle technique. There are spiders and half stitch zigzags, with some rose ground and a little Torchon ground to fill gaps. The rose ground crosses the centre line, which help to break it up. You start the pattern by putting pins in the red dots, and hanging two pairs of bobbins from each pin. Make sure that the pairs loop round each other to stop them falling apart when you take the pin out. One pair goes in one direction, and the other in a different direction. It is easier to start with the top ten pairs and work the top corner, before adding the rest of the bobbins. You work the pattern up to the pale blue line, then turn the pillow to work the rest. Once you reach the blue dots, tie the threads coming from opposite directions together and remove the bobbins. 18 pairs