To start here is my analysis of the basic grounds used in bobbin lace.

First some basic rules.  A leaf tally and a standard braid (plait) both contain 2 pairs.  Therefore, structurally they are interchangeable.  Also a square tally is one way of crossing 2 pairs.  So wherever 2 pairs meet in an X you can substitute a little square tally.

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This one illustrates different ways of crossing 2 braids (plaits), each containing 2 pairs or 4 threads.


Valenciennes method, I call it a Val crossing, for lack of another word.

There are several variants of the little snowflake, used in Binche and Flanders, which have this structure. This is the simplest variant.  Also called cord ground (which I think is used in Bucks).

The same thing exploded, by inserting a twist before each cloth stitch.  This is 5 hole ground = rose grouns (virgin ground, term in French & Spanish).

This is various ways to cross 3 braids, each containing 2 pairs.

This is basically the same pair movements as in the large Binche snowflake.  Here it is exploded with twists in between all the cloth stitches.

Here is the same movement of pairs, but compacted, where each pair is treated as a single thread.

Continental crossing, exploded.  This is not the same as the one above.


English version, exploded


Crossing 4 braids makes 4 rose ground  units.

A 3 point diamond can be worked as a cloth stitch diamond, a honeycomb unit, or a square tally. This is what you get when you omit the center pin of the unit. So honeycomb is an alternative to crossing 2 pairs tc pin tc.  A square tally also can replace tc pin tc.

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I have attached a file, grounds analysis, which contains brief verbal analysis of these groupings.  The discussion above contains some very simple examples from my teaching materials.  They illustrate my points about equivalencies between various structural elements.  They may be more simple than is needed.  But I want them stated as basic principles.

The next step is to collect page numbers from my various books of grounds to plug in as illustrations.  I have a very limited number of books, and lack the most complete European ones.  That will take a few days.  I will be adding to this and clarifying as time passes.  This isn't the complete analysis just yet.  It is a sort of draft.

The important part are the diagrams of groups A - J.

Comments are welcome.


     This is a great analysis.  I think that in the lace world we often lack analyses of this type where things are compared across multiple bobbin lace traditions.  I have been looking at the same topic but from the opposite direction.  I have been comparing the structures within the early laces that appear to have developed into grounds.  Until reading this I had never taken note of how the Valenciennes crossing is constructed.  I have to thank you for bringing this to my attention, it is a crucial element in my own research that I had not yet noticed.  The development of cushions in the early laces really gave birth to many of these structures, I suspect.  Currently I have been looking at the relationship between cushions, spiders and snowflakes.


Kim, by cushions do you mean wide rectangular tallies?

Kim, by cushions do you mean wide rectangular tallies?

No, I mean a motif that was named by R.M. in New Modelbuch.  She named all of the patterns and I am actually working on a book now which will translate all of the names into modern English and German.  When Burkhard did her commentary, cushions were one of the few motifs that she named.  As I was first going to museums to view lace I wasn't quite sure where to start, so decided this was as good a place as any.  Over time I think they became a fascination of mine since they were the first motif I researched.  I have attached a photo of the three types of cushions which can be found in either Le Pompe or New Modelbuch.  It is a photo from an article that was published in the Bulletin about 2007.  While it has been stated that cushions disappeared after New Modelbuch and Le Pompe, I think they really just evolved and gave birth to other things such as spiders and snowflakes.  As in your study above, they may look different, but structurally are in the same family.



This has helped me understand a few more grounds, the joining of 4 stranded plaits is another lesson learnt, i think they would look nicer as a tally where joined too.

I have just revised my drawings of the grounds, aiming for more clarity.  I have also posted the improved verbal analysis as a pdf file, just under the original discussion.

Kim I agree with your interpretation of the woodcuts.  Column 1 is most simply interpreted as torchon ground, and this could have been worked on the "standard prickings" that Veronika has been talking about.  Column 2 is 5 hole ground, no argument there -- a crossing of 2 braids.  And the dense one is most easily interpreted as cloth stitch.  There is a variant of the little snowflake that is worked that way.


   I came into this conversation midway, and I suspect I am missing something.  Are the woodcuts you are looking at posted anywhere on the site, or is there a reference to which book/page to find them on that I am missing?  I am sorry to sound inept, I am still learning all of the details of using Ning.


Kim your comment Nov 1 has a jpg file attached.  That is what I am referring to. Perhaps you should just post the image itself into a comment box.  It will be easier to see.

Ok, I see what you are looking at now!  Those are all just small little pieces/motifs out of larger woodcut.  Each one is made with eight pairs.  The first does have similarities to torchon ground, although has more thread movements and is bulkier.  The second is not five hole ground, although there is a smaller version of this motif that basically is.  It is a lot of fun to look at the evolution of these things.  It is also interesting to look at the structures.  We have to remember to look at the stiches, as sometimes two things will look dis-similar because one has a twist, thus creating a hole.   The opposite can also be true, things can look similar but have a different structure.


If it isn't 5 hole, what do you think it is?

Certainly the center stitches are basically 5 hole ground, the main difference being the "cushion" is in and of itself a motif.  I am sorry, my other explanation was not thorough enough.  The smaller motif I mentioned stands alone and is not part of a motif, as are these inside of the cushion.  The way in which the plaits come together making it a motif in and of itself is consistent with the other cushions.  Groundwork hadn't really emerged yet when these were developed.   While I think this developed as a way to make a crossing, I do think it is sort of a "missing link", if you will, between all plaited laces and groundwork, if that makes sense.  It is interesting to assess which patterns in New Modelbuch appear to be he oldest and those which were a little more evolved.  I do believe that its' patterns represent an earlier time than those in Le Pompe even though Le Pompe made it to press first.



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