Diagrams for Bobbin Lace

Many Attractive Examples for GroundForge


Stitches for snowflakes



We have a tutorial that explains how to choose stitches in GroundForge. However, these experiments require some preparation: capture the pair diagram.

The tutorial uses a versatile Binche pattern as an example. This happens to be a 6-pair snowflake alias spider embedded in a Paris ground. On this page we explore more fun with snowflakes.

Capture pair diagrams

Before we can play with stitches, we need to capture the pair diagram. Most captures start with a distorted pair diagram. Each stitch should match a dot on a square grid. Variations or combinations require new distorted captures.

This page explores other types of recipes for snowflakes with the aim to apply them in multiple patterns used as templates. For this purpose we use the Droste technique in both directions:

  • interpret pair diagrams of snowflakes as thread diagrams
  • a form applies the stitches resulting from this interpretation to a recipe of your choice
  • the form leads to a page with two steps that uses thread diagrams as pair diagram
  • in the second step you can choose stitches for the intended snowflake

Pair diagrams interpreted as thread diagrams with blobs

We can analyse stitches in a diagram by marking them with blobs. On the right a solution for one snowflake. The caption describes the blob sequence. The capital R indicates that the first blob is on the right side, in other words the first stitch would be made with the middle pair and right pair.

On the left another (too complicated) solution for the same snowflake. It illustrates requirements for the blobs:

  • Span 4 threads.
  • The threads flow two by two into adjacent blobs. For example red and orange flow from two to three and blue and purple from two to four. This can be deceptive: five may seem to receive black from one while it actually goes via three.
  • Not all threads in a blob need to have an interaction with other threads. For example: the black and blue pairs in the third blob do nothing, like the green pair in the fifth.


The meaning of the captions and how to create them is explained above with blobs. How to use them is explained below. Download the image or show in another tab to copy the recipes in the captions. Due to the vast numbers of possible snowflakes we can´t be exhaustive.

6 pairs with all pairs entering before leaving

Try a blob recipe copied above in the following form. The form jumps to the pairs from threads page where you can choose your stitches in the second step.

starts .
Swatch size:    


Do nothing for the footside means: the pairs turn as a rainbow around the pin, without twists. Even the just twist option is under construction, it interferes with the adjacent snowflake.

Variants: The form starts with plaits of three threads, in a diamond mesh or a square mesh. The length of the plaits are determined by the number of blobs. On the right screenshots for the exercise above: four blobs on a diamond mesh respectively six blobs on a square mesh. With a square mesh you will have two pairs going horizontally back and forth through the snowflakes The form doesn’t show you the step with these screenshots.

Steps: The form jumps immediately to the pairs from threads page to generate diagrams as shown below at the first step. Well, we cheated a little: some twists are added manually for the legs to make the snowflake stand out more clearly. If you want parallel legs: don´t add the twists. If your want crossed legs: add the twists. The number of twists is not relevant for the next step.


At the second step on the page pair from threads you can finally choose your stitches. When you opted for the square mesh, you have to apply stitches to two snowflakes.

The twists of the first step thread diagram shown on the right are combined into stitch b133 above. These twists are the trailing twist in the last blob and the leading twist of the first blob. The combining is counteracted with a ctct(pin)tctc. Pins usually get misplaced, so we leave them out. This counteraction also defines the number of twists in the left footside for the just twist option of variant a.

Hover with your mouse over stitches. Highlights can show you all parts of a stitch. Note that each thread diagram adds a digit to stitch id in the tooltips: B13 in the step one pair diagram becomes b130,b131,… in the step one thread diagram. We see b133 reappearing in the step two pair diagram resulting in b1330,b1331,… in the step two thread diagram.

Both can help to fix mistakes as the leg inside the spider in this example. Click wands to generate or refresh diagrams. Refresh a thread diagram after refreshing the pair diagram. Please don’t rely on twist marks in the pair diagrams, they are buggy in this style of pair diagrams.

Other patterns than supplied by the form

When we focus on recipes with four blobs, the plaits are reduced to two triangles with a shared side. The image on the right shows variations of these figures. These figures occur in many patterns. Wherever we discover these figures, we can use three pair joins in these patterns, or snowflakes when using the thread diagram as pair diagram. Just some examples:


In a Paris ground (under construction)

The tutorial for choosing stitches captured the pair diagram directly. When using the thread diagram of this pattern we also get snowflakes in a Paris ground. You only need the first step of the pairs from threads page. Definition for the ring pair at the first pairs from threads step:


The screenshot dropped the stitch marked with a grey +, for more variations you can restore the stitch with the button assign to ignored. The highlighted stitches in the thread diagram represent the blobs. The configuration of blobs is not as versatile as for the form above.

6 pairs, on both sides a pair leaves before the last enters (under construction)

We explore two snowflakes to demonstrate the two templates. The dashed lines indicate bouncing pairs: these pairs leave the snowflake before last pair enters. It might be a bit confusing, but the snowflake is still a 6-pair snowflake. In reality the pairs might not return but play another role in the rest of the lace while another pair “returns”.

In the first example above (lct-tcr), each bouncing pair section (the dashed lines) interacts with just one other bouncing pair section. In the second example we see more interactions between the bouncing pairs. The first example requires two stitches to define a thread diagram to be used as pair diagram, the second one requires three stitches.

The following form generates the diagrams shown below the form. Note the subtle difference for the open and closed connection in diagram variations for the three-stitch example. Follow the link to “thread diagram as pair diagram” to select your stitches for the snowflake.

First bounce on the

The number of legs is deceptive, caused by the bouncing pairs. We can get more realistic lengths for the legs at the next step. The screenshot on the right shows manually added red pins to indicate the actual legs.