Lace spider

Spider with 8 legs

A spider is an open shape often used in Torchon lace. It looks best when surrounded by solid areas. It tends to get lost in open ground. There are usually 8 or 12 legs to a spider. See the zig-zag and checkerboard patterns for examples of spiders. The French for a spider is, I think, orge which means barley. I guess that the working round the pin looks like a barley grain.

The spiders described on this page are simple spiders, with a solid 'body'. There are various more complicated spiders with holes in the centre of the body. These are called peas or open spiders. If you can't find the spider you want here, try the Pea page. There is also the Bedfordshire spider.

Spider with 12 legs
Pricking for a spider

The pricking pattern for an eight legged spider is on the left. Usually I mark the legs on the pattern, see right. The middle hole for an eight legged spider is not on the normal Torchon grid.

Pricking for a 8 legged spider

The holes round the edge aren't used in the spider. They are part of the surrounding pattern. They guide the threads into and out of the spider. In fact, you can see that the top, bottom and outer points don't even have threads going into the spider.

Pricking for a 12 legged spider

Working a spider
Bigger spiders
Cathedral spiders
Other ways to work a spider
Spider ground
Other arrangements
Half spiders
This page described the ordinary spider. There are more complicated designs called peas or open spiders, which are descibed here.

Working a spider

Spider start Spider after 1 row Spider after 2 rows, at pin Spider after 3 rows Spider after 4 rows Spider

This is an eight legged spider. Two pairs of bobbins come in from each side. Each of these must be twisted a number of times to make four of the legs of the spider. This diagram shows three twists.

Take the second pair of bobbins from the left, and work them in cloth stitch across the two pairs from the right. Then take the bottom pair of bobbins on the left and work them across the same two pairs. Do not work them across the other pair that originally came from the left! Each row only has two stitches in it. Now put in the pin.

Don't worry if you have a mess of threads at this point. You will need to tighten them. Start with the outermost two pairs. Take a pair in each hand, and gently tug them away from each other. Now do the same for the innermost pair. If necessary, tug each bobbin gently.

How to do a Spider

Now for the other half of the spider. Take the pair you last worked with (they originally were the left hand pair, and are now the second pair in from the right). Work them back across the two pairs now on the left. Then take the righthand pair, and work them across two pairs on the left (again, don't work them across the pair that you've just used). Finally, twist all pairs as much as you did at the start to make the remaining four legs.

Tighten the threads again, in the same way. You may need to tighten the threads again once the threads have been worked into the surrounding pattern, as the spider has a lot of stitches and only one pin. It is important to make sure that no loops or looseness is left.

The common mistakes with spiders is either to forget the twists before and after the spider, to make the legs, or working too many bobbins. The bobbins on the left on the pin (originally) only work across the bobbins on the right (originally).


Bigger spiders

Spider with 12 legs

You can have spider with twelve legs,with three pairs coming in from each side. Each pair on one side is worked across all the bobbins on the other side, one way for the first half of the spider, then back again after the pin.

As you can see from the photo, the middle piece round the pin tends to make an oval shape. The diagram on the left may explain why. There are a lot of threads in a small space, and they have to go somewhere!

You can even have a spider with 16 legs (see right).

Spider with 12 legs

Spider with 12 legs

Cathedral spiders

Cathedral Spider

A cathedral spider is half a spider. You work the top half, then put the pin in. Then you twist the pairs to make the bottom legs. This tends to make the hole under the pin into a shape like a gothic arch, hence the name, I suppose.

It is also possible to do the opposite of this - put the pin in first, then do the bottom half of the spider (rather than the top).

Cathedral Spider

Other ways to work a spider

Conventional method of working a spider

There can be a problem with spiders with large numbers of legs. There are a lot of cloth stitches in the centre round the pin. However much you tighten the threads when you have finished the spider, the centre part ends up as an oval.

This is the stitches for a 12 legged spider.

Conventional method of working a spider
Different method of working a spider

Here is a working with less stitches. All stitches are cloth stitch. The idea is that you work half a spider, then work just the outer pairs (which used to be the top pairs) back again. If you look at the colours, you will see that some pairs swap sides, some don't. However, it can be tricky to work out where the pin should go, so here is a longer explanation.

Different method of working a spider
Twist all pairs
as usual
Different method of working a spider
Work top pairs
across
Different method of working a spider
Work next pairs
across
Different method of working a spider
Pin
Different method of working a spider
Work centre pairs
Different method of working a spider
Work outer pairs
back
Different method of working a spider

This makes a spider with a completely different centre. I worked this one out while trying to understand how a fond d'orge en étoile worked. I am not claiming that this is right! But it does work. It needs careful tightening though, when finished. Again, all stitches are cloth stitch.

Different method of working a spider
Twist all pairs
as usual
Different method of working a spider
Work outside pairs
to centre
Different method of working a spider
Work them across
each other
Different method of working a spider
Carrying on
working them across
Different method of working a spider
Pin
Different method of working a spider
Work the outside pairs
back again.

Spider ground

Spiders are usually surrounded by solid areas such as diamonds or zigzags to provide a contrast. However, it is possible to put spiders next to each other.

spiders

This is spider ground. The spiders are packed together. The legs are in pairs, as there is nothing to separate them. However, at the edge, the legs are still fanned out.

spiders
spiders

Here, each spider is entirely surrounded by Torchon ground stitches. This makes a more formal pattern and every leg is separated. You do need quite an area of lace to show the effect though.

This is a different type of spider ground. It needs a wider area than the simpler form, since it needs to include the Torchon ground round each spider. The French for this type of ground is (I think) fond d'orge - orge means barley.

spiders

Other arrangements

There are other ways to fit spiders together.

spiders

Here, the spiders are fitted together the other way, which means that one leg is attached to a different spider. So some legs are in pairs, and some not. It's rather a difficult pattern to figure out when you're looking at it. It might be better in a larger area. The pairs of legs are running from top left to bottom right.

spiders
spiders

This takes the idea one stage further. There are a group of four spiders, with a Torchon ground stitch between them, similar to the rose ground above. This is an interesting design, as every leg of the spider goes to a different pin than its neighbour, which means that they really do look like spiders! Since the angles are not right angles and 45 degrees, it has rather an organic look. Yet it is easy to work. The design takes a little thought, I must admit.

This is used in the clutter of spiders design.

spiders

Half spiders

Half spider

I think I invented the half spider, but of course other people may have done the same! I have used it in the cobweb pattern and one of the Torchon flower patterns.

The idea is similar to a spider, except that one side only has one 'leg'. This could come from a footside or a straight headside, or only other vertical part of the pattern. The single pair of threads on this side are worked across all the legs on the other side, pin, and back again.

The advantage of this pattern is that you can fill in a triangle next to a straight edge. When designing Torchon lace, most of the designs are based round diamonds, so you tend to get space triangles next to the straight footside. This normally gets filled with ground, but if you get bored with that, a half spider can be useful.

Half spider

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© Jo Edkins 2002