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Color codes

The Belgian color code and similar systems are designed for traditional styles of bobbin lace. When experimenting with unorthodox stitches and grounds we need more than half a dozen of colors for a universal legend.

4 colors per stitch

This page explains how GroundForge uses up to four colors per stitch to distinguish up to four crosses per stitch and up to three twists between those crosses, as well as tallies and plain plaits. If we count mirrored versions of stitches, the color code can distinguish over 4K separate stitches. It does have one drawback: the approach may be too elaborate to draw accurately by hand.

The 3x3swatches icon in the caption of a pair diagram provides enumerations of the applied stitches. For publishing purposes, you can use third party software to merge the downloads of the pattern and the enumeration.


2x2swatches The icon leading to this page serves as a reminder: the color numbers are arranged in a clockwise order starting with red (=danger alias unusual) as zero.

none one two more  
       !     !!     !!!   twists between stitches
twists between crosses

Colors for the twists fill shapes in the following table.


1. just a single cross
2. cross - twist(s) - cross
3. cross - twist(s) - cross - twist(s) - cross
4. cross - twist(s) - cross - twist(s) - cross - twist(s) - cross; e.g. winkie pins: ctct-pin-ctct
ctctctc and longer plaits
cllcrrcllc and longer or mirrored tallies
none of the above


The following examples combine the color rules relating to twists with the shapes representing the crosses. Note that each t of the captions is translated into an l plus r in the drawings.

The Whiting catalogue has some interesting examples illustrating the four colors per stitch in practice: E12, A2. F9. Below a variation of F9 to show the difference between the tick marks for double and triple twists. The pattern shows also variations of winkie pins.


The color scheme was selected from colorbrewer because of its color-blind friendly properties.

The pair diagrams based on thread diagrams still apply a variation of the Belgian color-code with buggy numbers of twist marks.

Not having twists between stitches encoded in the colors of the stitches, makes the diagrams agnostic to the open (start with twist) and close (end with twist) method.