Diagrams for Bobbin Lace

Samples of grounds by Gertrude Whiting to GroundForge

  • Each image links to the corresponding page of the book.
  • The rows and columns of the sampler are switched.
  • The diagr links lead to customizable diagrams.
  • Notes on the other components of the image captions.
  A B C D E F G H
1 diagr, N5:c diagr, N5:d diagr, N5:d diagr, N5:d diagr, N5:d diagr, N5:d diagr, N5:d N1, N5:d
2 diagr, N5:r diagr, N5:r   diagr diagr diagr, N5:s diagr diagr
3 diagr, N5:d diagr, N5:d diagr, N5:d diagr, N5:d diagr, N5:d diagr, N5: d diagr, N5:d chaotic
4 N3 N3 diagr, N5:k diagr, N5:k diagr diagr, N5:b diagr diagr, N5:r
5 diagr, N5:k diagr, k diagr, N5:k diagr, N5:c N3 diagr, N5:c diagr, N5:c diagr, N5:c
6 diagr, N5:k diagr, N5:r diagr, N5:r diagr, N5:b diagr diagr, N5:d N3 diagr
  A B C D E F G H
7 val val val val val val val val
8 N3 N3 N3 N3 N3 N3 N3 N3
9 N3 N3 diagr, N5:r diagr diagr diagr, N5:k diagr, N5:d diagr, N5:d
10 N3 N3 N3 N3 diagr N3 diagr diagr
11 diagr, N5:d diagr, N5:d N3 diagr, N5:wk diagr, N5:wk diagr, N5:d val N3
12 diagr N4 diagr diagr diagr diagr diagr diagr
  A B C D E F G H
13 3 pairs N3 N3 N3 N3 N3 N3 N3
14 semi-DIY diagr, N2 diagr N4 diagr diagr diagr more
15 N3 N3 N3 N3 N3 N3 N3 N3
16 diagr, N5:s diagr diagr diagr diagr diagr diagr N4
17 N3 N4 diagr, N5:k N3 diagr,c N3 N3 N3
18 diagr N3 N3 N3 N3 diagr, N5:c N3 variants: a, b
  A B C D E F G H

Notes on the image captions


The scanned image doesn’t match the description by Gertrude Whiting.


The patch is too small and shows only edge cases. It needs at least three repeats to be unambiguous.


The ground uses sewings, three-pair stitches, odd number of threads, tallies and/or picots. None of these are supported by GroundForge.


Bandages: dull for the objective of this page and too elaborate.


The short link after each N5 leads to a print/PDF friendly page with families of pair diagrams at the bottom. The page starts with some other diagrams for one of the variants as found in the sampler.

Each pattern in such a family can be morphed into the others by nudging pins. Four of these families (cloth, diamond, kat, rose) cover more than a third of the grounds in the table, other families are wk (weaving kat), spiders (small), bias (crossed). These families illustrate how many variations can be made by changing stitches or nudging pin positions.

c d r k wk s b

Some of these pattern families are also in the TesseLace catalogue: cloth, diamond, rose, kat

Multiple samples with a single base diagram

The variations on the base diagrams are just different stitches or even just a different number of twists.

A7-H7,G11 — Valenciennes

The patterns are more about plaits than pairs, so you can use these torchon diagrams for pricking variations.

The base diagram for the Valenciennes grounds is defined with two plaits and a cloth stitch at the joins of the plaits. The variations are defined with the length of the plaits and the number of twists between the stitches. The form generates symmetrical diagrams, sorry, not for IE-11 and older.

Inner twists Outer twists Plait length

A more recent overview of Valencienes grounds is published in ‘25 Valiencieneskantjes’ by Andries & Vroom, 2011

Samples with multiple diagrams

A14 — Trentino (wheels)

The diagram definition for this pattern is quite huge. Hence so far only one wheel is provided with stitches, you’ll have to fill in the others by yourself. Like we shared our efforts with you, we hope you share your efforts to create a corrected or completed version. Just supply the resulting link at our contact form.

At least one stitch is not accurate: lazy joins (using pairs as threads where plaits cross) are not supported, a Valenciennes type of join is used instead.

  • The sample — Has two base types of wheels. One with a cloth stitch center, every other with a half stitch center. There are variations in the starting point of the centers.

  • diagram a — A single repeat gives an impression of the basic idea of the pattern. It requires adding pairs on one side and drop them on the other.

  • diagram b — Two identical repeats allow different stitches for every other wheel but still require adding and dropping pairs.

  • diagram c — Two repeats with different directions. At the end of a row, the pairs can be reused for the next. Only evry other row of wheels can be different.

  • diagram d — Four repeats allows a correct pattern. Now you could change the starting points for the wheel centers.

H14 — Italian spiders with ribbons

These diagrams give a more or less similar impression. The difference in the diagrams are not as much about nudging pins as the diagrams presented by for example d: a different working order is required.

  • The sample — Weaves 6 times. Weaving direction alternates per repeat. At least 4 methods for the diagonal pairs to traverse through the wavy ribbons, not counting mirrored versions.

  • diagram a — Weaves 6 times in alternating directions. Applies the two most common methods of traversing the ribbons.

  • diagram b — idem, but weaving 5 times. This cuts the diagram definition by half but requires a new pair per repeat on the left and drop another at the right.

  • Also seen — Always weaving in the same direction. This will also cut the diagram definition by half. See for example “The book of bobbin lace stitches” by Bridget M. Cook and Geraldine Stott.

H18 — two patterns

The work consists of two parts, starting with Ground a, and changing halfway to Ground b.

Three paired joins

Groundforge can not do real three paired joins. However, we can simulate such a join by treating it as a series of stitches. See MAE-GF for some examples.

A13 — examples of three paired joins

In pattern A13 the three paired join is made as follows: the horizontal and vertical pairs make a cloth stitch, the diagonal pair is laid alternating over and under the cloth stitch. Gibritte has done research on A13, see her blog.
We have made two examples to play with: one with star-joins and one with fish-joins.

The book and sampler

Multiple online archives published a digitised version of “A Lace Guide for Makers and Collectors” by Gertrude Whiting, which dates from 1920.

The MET in new York has the original sampler.

Jo Edkins went through the trouble to cut-and-paste thumbnails and pages. She republished indexes (by name, page and thumbnails) of the grounds in a web-friendly way with her own annotations.

The thumbnails are reused on this page with kind permission. The images in the table link to searchable high resolution pages at archive.org. Links on the diagram pages lead to the pages by Jo Edkins.

Objective / disclaimer

GroundForge creates thread diagrams from pair diagrams to assist you in the process of choosing patterns, stitches and contrasting threads.

The set of lace samples is used to illustrate possibilities and limitations of the diagram generator. The samples are an interpretation in lace of the diagrams. Comparing diagrams with actual samples might help to develop an intuition on reading the diagrams.

The required intuition doesn’t come from experience with conventional diagrams. The generated pair diagrams present plaits and something-pin-something like ordinary stitches. In fact, pins are so poorly supported that they are usually omitted. Holes become as round as possible so the threads don’t obey the physical laws of tension. Pattern F9 is a quite extreme example how the round holes can change a pattern beyond recognition.

The links to pages of the book allow to check whether a Whiting’s sample and instructions matches in all details with the diagrams generated from the GroundForge definitions.

Creating the diagrams sparked ideas to extend functionality of the diagram generator but a third of the patterns in the table are not expected to be supported. The page history (and older changes) may show when a diagram definition was created or fixed and who authored it. For an easy overview the maintainer needs to list the changed/added patterns in the edit note.