Bobbin Lace Diagrams : threads from pairs

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Getting Started

Virtual tour

Take a walk through the various catalogues on the GroundForge website in this screencast (MP4 format, 123 MB, 2:32 min). You will notice that Rose ground, and many variations related to it, appears in each of the catalogues. Different stitches for the same pair diagram yield very different results. Pause, rewind, and slow down the video to get the most out of it.

GroundForge 101

In the following tutorial, we will explore a versatile ground from the Whiting catalogue and illustrate some basic features of GroundForge. By clicking on a photo in the catalogue, you will launch the associated page in Gertrude Whiting’s book A lace guide for makers and collectors. Click on the diagram link above the photo in the catalogue to launch the GroundForge tool, initialized with the details of the selected Whiting ground.

For each lace ground, there is a dedicated page. The page contains a prototype diagram where the ground and its stitches are defined. There are also two generated drawings: a working diagram (based on the International Colour Code) and a thread diagram. Help pages, accessible by clicking on the info image above each diagram, provide more information.

Open the diagram for ground G-2 (column G, row 2) in the Whiting catalogue.

Highlight a thread

In the thread diagram on the far right, each thread has a small square at the start and a bobbin at the end. You may need to scroll the diagram to see them. Click on a square or bobbin to change the color of the thread and bobbin from black to red. Click on the square or bobbin of a red thread and it returns to black. You can highlight more than one thread at a time. For more colours and options, visit thread properties.

Resize pattern

You can increase or decrease the size of the pattern generated in the working and thread diagrams. Above the prototype diagram, edit the number of columns and rows. There are some restrictions to patch sizes. If you make the patch size very large, performance may slow down considerably.

Modify stitches

To play with the stitches, look at the prototype diagram on the far left. The prototype contains a vector drawing showing the order in which pairs of threads come together. There are multiple copies of the ground pattern in the prototype, showing how the pattern repeats. One copy is brightly coloured, the others appear faded. We will always work with the brightly coloured copy.

Where two pairs come together, there is a circle with a number or letter in its centre. Click on any of these circles and a yellow box appears with the stitch definition. To change the stitch, type the new instructions while the yellow box is visible.

Exercise: Try to change the center of the spider from ctcctc to t. (Spoiler alert: The center of the spider is the black circle around the symbol ‘5’, located in the top left corner of the prototype).

Every time you change the stitch definitions, you must regenerate the working and thread diagrams by clicking on the wand image found just above the prototype diagram.

In addition to the usual c for cross and t for twist, you can twist only the right pair by typing r or type l to twist only the left pair. You can also “drop” a stitch. That is, when two pairs meet, do not braid them together at all. To drop a stictch, replace the stitch instructions with -. Be careful when dropping stitches. It can have unexpected consequences.

Exercise: Can you create the following variation? solution

Undo changes

To return the pattern to its original values, click on the ‘Reload’ button (also called ‘Refresh’) at the top of your browser.

Save and share changes

Once you have invested some time working on a lace ground, you will want to save your work. Click on the link image just above the prototype diagram. This will change the text in the address bar at the top of your browser. The text is a link to this website and contains the lace pattern as well as the stitch choices you have made.

Save the link text into a file for later use. Copy and paste the link text into the address bar of your browser to return to your current state or share it with other lacemakers.

Create a new ground pattern

We create the prototype for the pattern in the area labelled “Forms for advanced users”. First, we map the pattern onto a grid. Symbols, comprising numbers or letters, are used to draw lines on the grid. This creates a vector diagram showing the order in which pairs of threads come together. From this description, the software generates a working diagram and a thread diagram. It requires a more detailed tutorial to fully explain the many construction options available.

Add footsides

In addition to modelling a lace ground, GroundForge can also model a footside for it. Left and right footsides are defined separately and depend on the number of columns in the patch. For example, here is footside for Whiting G-2. There is an advanced tutorial on how to create footsides.

Next steps