Bobbin Lace Virgin Ground or Rose Ground

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This is another bobbin lace ground (background) that is worthy of being in the foreground, and is built up from that same Whole Stitch I’ve been using for most things so far. It’s amazing what a simple stitch and clever pinning can do. Like everything bobbin lace, there seems to be some disagreement about what to actually call this stitch. Some sources call it the Rose Ground. Others call it the Virgin Ground (and those sources have something very, very different labeled as the Rose Ground.) It’s probably Flemish in origin, but not for sure. It doesn’t matter what you call it (I vote for calling it the Checkerboard Ground) as long as you understand how to make it when you want to use it. It’s a bit more complicated than what I’ve posted before, but with a little practice it’s very manageable.



This is the same grid as what I used for the torchon and double torchon grounds posted previously, just with some extra squares added to make it easier to follow for this pattern.


You can see the entire process for making a Whole Stitch by clicking here. As a handy reminder:

twist a pair = right over left

cross two bobbins (from two different pairs) = left over right

A. Hang 2 pairs of bobbins here.

B. Hang 2 pairs of bobbins here.

Twist all pairs (right over left.)

1. Using the right pair from A, and the left pair from B, make a Whole Stitch (cross, twist, pin, cross, twist) and then twist each pair one extra time.

2. Using the 2 pairs to the left make a Whole Stitch (cross, twist, pin, cross, twist).

3. Using the 2 pairs to the right make a Whole Stitch (cross, twist, pin, cross, twist).

4. Using the 2 pairs to the center – twist each pair then make a Whole Stitch (cross, twist, pin, cross, twist.)

5. Using the 2 pairs to the left make a Whole Stitch (cross, twist, pin, cross, twist.) The pin here is optional, more on that later.

6. Using the 2 pairs to the right make a Whole Stitch (cross, twist, pin, cross, twist.) The pin here is optional, more on that later.


Repeat the process for a single square for each square on the top row.

7. Make a Whole Stitch (cross, twist, pin, cross, twist).

8. Make a Whole Stitch (cross, twist, pin, cross, twist).

Then fill in the opposite squares in the row below, using the same method for making a square. Check your tension on previous stitches all the time, giving each strand a light tug before starting a new square is an easy way to keep your tension consistent.


Below are the photos of what those diagrams are telling you to do.


Start by printing out the grid and cutting a strip, then setting it on your cork panels. Pre-prick at least a few rows of the pattern, (you should really do the whole thing for best accuracy.) Place a pin at the top corners of the first box at the upper left.


Hang 2 pairs of bobbins off of each pin. Twist each pair (right over left.)


Using the two pairs at the center of the group, make a whole stitch at the center top of the first diamond. Cross, twist, pin, cross, twist. Then give each pair an extra twist.


Make a whole stitch on the left side of the diamond with the left two pairs.


Make a whole stitch on the right side of the diamond with the right two pairs.


With the center two pairs – give each pair a twist, then make a whole stitch at the bottom of the diamond.


Then make a whole stitch at each lower corner of the square.


Repeat this basic square on each square across the top of the pattern (every other diamond.)








When all of the top squares are done slide your bobbins off to the right to get them out of the way.


The two pairs on the left need to go straight down so they’ll be ready for the row after this. To keep a nice, even edge on the strip of lace I use two whole knots to bridge this space. Make one on the corner of that diamond.


And the next on the top (A position) of the square below. If you do a lot of braiding you might notice that those two whole stitches are the same as doing a 4 strand braid, the pins just help keep it positioned where we want it.


Now you’re ready to fill in the alternate squares from what you made in the first row.


Slide those left 4 bobbins out of the way, then using the next 8 make a square. With the center 4 bobbins make a whole stitch with an extra twist on each pair at the end.



Make the whole stitches on the sides of the diamond.


Then give the center pairs an extra twist and make a whole stitch at the bottom of the diamond.




Then make the whole stitches at the lower corners of the square. In these locations the pins are optional. I experimented with doing it both ways. In the end, I chose to always pin these lower corners on the edges of the lace, but not anywhere else. The biggest challenge of this lace is managing the tension (this sample could definitely use some work in that regard.) I found it was much easier to pull up my tension when I didn’t have pins in these locations (5 and 6 on the charts). I also thought that the squares where these pins weren’t used looked more square, and that it was a lot faster to skip 33% of the pins on most squares. Different materials and situations might produce different results, though, so experiment with your own work to decide.


Fill in the next alternate square.


Then add those two whole stitches down the side.


You can work every row left to right, or back and forth, or on the diagonal. Repeat the two rows of squares you just made until you run out of thread or have a long enough piece of lace for your purpose.


Stay on your tension constantly. Before every square or edge braid be sure to give each strand a tug and make sure you aren’t leaving loopy spots above it. With the complicated pattern of thread direction it’s not always obvious which strand is leaving a loose spot, so every strand needs constant vigilance. It gets easier as you start to understand the motif.


When you’re done or need to reclaim some pins you can start un-pinning from the center first, leaving the edge pins to remove last. This reduces the odds that you’ll snag something and mess up you brand new lace. I’ve found my lace is most vulnerable during the un-pinning, after that it’s much more durable.


This one is going to take some practice, but it’s worth is for this cool checkerboard effect.