Wiggly lace

Before trying any of these patterns, you should be fairly confident with lace corners. There is a well-developed technique for doing a Torchon lace corner. You draw a diagonal across the lace, then reflect the pattern the other side of the diagonal. You work it by doing all the lace up to the diagonal, then turning the pillow, and working after the corner. You really need to try one out to fully understand this.

I started wondering if I could develope this idea further. What happens if I drew a diagonal, reflected the pattern, then drew another diagonal the same way, and reflected it again? Could I get a wiggly lace? The results are below.

Why do this? Well, first, just because we can! It's always interesting to see what we can do using conventional bobbin lace techniques in a unconventional way. But there is another incentive. One severe limitation of bobbin lace is that there is a limit to the number of bobbins that we can handle on a pillow. There are techniques involving joining pieces of lace. But this technique doesn't do any of this, and does produce a bigger looking lace for a smaller number of bobbins. It isn't really bigger, of course, as the width stays the same, but since it wiggles, it takes up more space. There is one thing that I ought to point out about this lace. Most Torchon lace is surprisingly robust, as pairs of threads are twisted, or woven across other threads. These wiggles do have weak points at the inner part of the bends, so don't pull them too strongly! They would be fine laid flat, or sewn onto a backing, or as an edging.

First attempt
"Course of True Love"
Minimal wiggle
All square
More Points
On a different page
Wavy angel

Wiggly lace pattern

First attempt

The first pattern is simple, as I tried to work out what is happening. There are cloth fan headsides on both sides, with rose ground between. The blue lines are the diagonals, not part of the pattern. Print the pattern off and turn it so it looks more like the photo on the right. The dots show how many pairs of bobbins you will need. The dots are temporary pins.

Start working the lace - it's a very simple pattern - and continue until you get to the blue line. For my version, I made the worker pairs for the headsides on both sides blue, and the rest of the bobbins brownish red. This means that the two pairs of worker bobbins need a lot more thread wound onto them, of course. There is one less hole on the edge than the inside of the fan, so you should always make the first line of the fan from the point to the inside to the fan, and the second line from the inside to the edge of the fan. This means that the blue worker pair stay as the worker for the next fan without any extra stiches! You do need to make sure that one fan is worked before the other, as one pair of threads is used for both, at their points.

Once you get to the pale blue line, make sure that you have worked all stitches before the line. Then turn the pillow so the next bit of pattern is now downwards. This turning of the pillow means that a round or cookie pillow would be easier, I think. Carry on working. There are a couple of points to notice about crossing the blue line. At the outer edge (where two fans are side by side), there will be two pairs to go from one pin to the next. You could do a little plait, if you want, to carry it over the short distance. If your workers are different colours, then make sure that the worker pair end up as the right colour. At the other edge, the inside of the bend as it were, there is only one pair to go from pin to pin - the worker pair. All of the passives have left the fan by this point. This may not be what you're used to when going from one fan to the next, and I admit that there was a fair amount of undoing and redoing before I worked it out myself! The last passive pair will return to the fan almost immediately, after it's worked a rose ground or two. The other point is more conventional. You do NOT work the entire block of 8 rose ground stitches at the same time. You work the first 4, then take the threads into a fan headside, across to the next door fan headside, and then the threads are available for the second half of the black, the remaining 4 rose ground stitches.

Once you reach the next pale blue line, make sure that all stitches are worked up to the line, and turn your pillow back to the original line.

11 pairs

Wiggly lace photo

The course of true love

Wiggly lace photo

Wiggly lace pattern

This lace is named after the quote from Shakespeare's Midsummer Night's Dream: "The course of true love never did run smooth". I must admit that I mis-remembered it as 'the path of true love'. There are pairs of hearts, symbolising the True Love, of course, but the lace moves from one side to another, rather than going in a straight line.

After establishing the principle of wiggly lace, I wanted to do a more complicated pattern. This produces a fair width of lace while using a mere 22 pairs of bobbins. The headsides are Twisted Fan Headsides. In the centre of each strip are two hearts with spiders above them. They are framed with half stitch zigzags. The areas at the end of each strip are rose ground, with some Torchon ground to fill up the gaps.

As before, work from one pale blue line to the next. (These blue lines are not part of the pattern.) Make sure that you have completed all stitches before the line. Then turn the pillow, and continue working in the new direction. There is one pair of bobbins crossing the pale blue line for each pin, except on the outside of the bend, which have 2 pairs. (The inside of the bend has one pair, similar to the previous pattern.)

The pattern is not too hard to work (as long as you only work within the pale blue lines in one direction), but there are several different stitches, so not something for the beginer, I think, especially cobined with this wiggliness!

22 pairs

Minimal wiggle

Wiggly lace photo

Wiggly lace pattern

After the previous wide piece of lace, I wanted to try something much simpler. This pattern only needs 7 pairs of bobbins!

The lace is just alternate Cloth Fan Headsides and Half Stitch Headsides. The pale blue lines, as usual, show you where to turn the pillow, but in fact, you hardly need to do this. The threads from one fan feed into the next in a very natural way, and this is a quick and simple piece of lace to work.

What's more, the design came out more interesting than I'd expected. It's quite possible to make a conventional straight piece of lace with fan headsides on both sides and nothing in between. But you can't alternate cloth stitch and half stitch. You can make one side half stitch, and the other cloth stitch, and that gives an alternate effect, but you still feel that half the lace (lengthways) is one stitch, and the other, the other stitch. Here the different two stitches are very clearly alternated. What's more, the fans face different directions, which add to the effect.

Look closely, and you will see that I have made my usual mistake in one of the half stitch fans!

7 pairs

All square wiggle

Wiggly lace photo

Wiggly lace pattern

Another bigger pattern, although it only uses 17 pairs of bobbins.

The pattern is simple. There are Twisted Fan Headsides and cloth zigzags and a line of Torchon ground to fill a gap. It isn't too hard to work, especially if you have already read the patterns above; you need to work all the stitches up to the pale blue line then turn the pillow to continue, and the very inside of the bends have one pair of threads carried over the blue line, whereas the outer edge has two. I used the darker purple thread for both the worker pairs for the zigzags. Rather to my surprise, there was no problem carrying over the worker pair to the next zigzag. Of coruse, these worker pairs needed a lot more thread wound on than the rest of the lace.

The main surprise was how square the whole pattern ended up (hence the name) and how the line of ground stitches which were just filler ended up almost as a feature. But that's lace for you.

17 pairs

Points wiggle

Wiggly lace photo

Wiggly lace pattern

There is a block of rose ground either side of the 'corner' line. You work half of the block, rotate the pillow, and work the other half. There are cloth stitch and half stitch diamonds, and Torchon ground to fill the gaps. There are cloth strips running through the lace. Round both edges, there is a plaited headside, with picots and lazy joins. These headsides take up quite a few of the bobins - 8 pairs in all. The rest of the pattern is only 17 pairs. I've marked with the pairs start. The blue lines show where you work up to, and then turn the pillow.

This is an attempt to make a pointy lace. Early lace often has these points - easy to do in needlepoint lace, but a real headache in strip bobbin lace. By folding the lace in half, along the strips, you get the points, but of course the pattern gets overlaid rather in places. I hope the strips provide a substitute for a footside.

25 pairs

Wiggly lace photo

More Points wiggle

Wiggly lace photo

Wiggly lace pattern

This leads on from the previous pattern. You make a wiggly lace, then fold it in half to produce a pointy lace. The previous attempt had two problems. First, the part that overlapped was part of the pattern, which therefore got lost. In this pattern, I've made the overlap to be simple Torchon ground. Then in the previous pattern, I got very bored with all the plaited headside, so I left them out this time! I just did a simple cross-over of the two edge pairs, or a footside without passives. I twisted the edge pair four times to give more strength. This is very quick to work, and also means less pairs.

The pattern within each point is rose ground, separated with thin cloth stitch zigzags and chevrons. either side of the 'corner' line. I've marked with the pairs start. The blue lines show where you work up to, and then turn the pillow.

I think this is more successful as a pattern. I worked it on a roller pillow, which meant that I was working diagonally one way, then the other. That was OK, but I had to sometimes think hard which way I was moving! This would be easier on a round pillow, of course, as you work each strip between the blue lines downwards, then turn the pillow for the next bit. However, with a round pillow, you are limited for length, unless you try to move the lace up the pillow. (I did that one. Never again!)

21 pairs

Wiggly lace photo

Flowers wiggle

Flowersiggly lace photo

Flowers wiggly lace pattern

This pattern is an extention of the Torchon flower triangle to go in a corner.

There are twisted fan headsides along the edge. The ground is Torchon ground. The centre of the flowers is marked with a simple crossover with cloth stitch and twist.

The flowers are made of The flower is made of cloth stitch. They are worked as solid areas. The tricky part is between the petals.

The flowers are made of The flower is made of cloth stitch. They are worked as solid areas. The tricky part is between the petals.

Each flower has four pairs of petals. The dividing line between these pairs is either the corner line or at right angles to this. The corner line is marked in yellow on the pattern, and as usual, work up to this point, turn the pillow, and carry on working. The other line at right angles is treated similarly, without turning the pillow! It shouldn't cause a problem.

The join between the two petals in a pair is marked with little white diamonds on the pattern. When you start the pattern, the first pair of petals you come to has to be worked together. That is, work the top part of one, then the top part of the other, until both workers are at the top middle pinhole. Then work them across each other with cloth stitch, twist, and back with cloth stitch. The work a few more rows on both sides until they meet again. THis happens three times in all. As long as you don't get the workers on each side muddled up, it should be OK.

The second pair is worked differently. Here the top petal is worked first, until you have worked down to the line of pinholes. You should now have six pairs of bobbins, including the worker pair. (If you have more than that, check that you have worked down far enough, and that you have discarded a pair on both sides.) Arrange the bobbins with a pair at each end (one of these will be the worker, but ignore that), and two pairs in the middle. Put a pin between each of these two middle pairs, and work the work after the pin with cloth stitch across each other. Now arrange the pairs as three groups of two pairs. Work each group as cloth stitch, pin, cloth stitch. Now arrange them as a pair at each end and two pairs in the middle again. Work each of the two middle pairs with cloth stitch across each other, then a pin between them. Now you need to make sure that you have done all other lace work between the petals (there is a fan headside on one side, and there may be a stitch or two on the other.) Finally, take the original worker (or the pair at the other end if you prefer), work it across a new pair outside itself and pin. You should now have a row of six pairs plus a worker pair. So carry on, and hope you end up with the right number of pairs at the bottom! I didn't, for one flower, and ended up undoing and redoing the middle fan THREE times!

21 pairs

Pointy wiggle

Pointy wiggle lace pattern

This doesn't look like a wiggle pattern, but it is. If you look carefully, there is a twisted fan headside in the middle of the lace! Then there is a wiggle on the edge of the headside. This has the rather strange effect that the lace has two different scales. The main lace is quite large scale, and the wiggle is smaller. The main lace needs to be worked straight down, but you will need to turn the pillow to one side or the other to work the wiggle.

Main part of lace. There are twisted fan headsides, half stitch triangles, and a rose ground border.

Wiggle: There are two cloth stitch strips, with rose ground in between. Remember to work each straight bit, then turn the pillow to work the next straight bit.

The wiggle and the main part are joined by cloth stitch, pin, cloth stitch. This means that you need to work two rows of the twisted fan headside, two rows of the cloth stitch strip, a bit of the wiggle rose ground, and two rows of the other cloth stitch strip, and then go back to work some more of the twisted fan headside. A bit of a bind, but you get into the rhythm of it eventually.

27 pairs (although the photo below was worked with 26 pairs, which is why the half stitch triangles don't join very well)

Pointy wiggle lace photo

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© Jo Edkins 2011