Whole Stitch Ground / Torchon Ground

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A “ground” in bobbin lace is just a way of filling space with a mesh or net. There are a lot of different grounds, but the whole stitch/torchon is a very common one. It can either be used as a filler between other design elements or as a lace by itself (as I’m showing it here.) This ground makes use of only one stitch and is a great place to start with learning to make lace. It works quickly (once you get the hang of it) and holds it’s shape well. This how-to shows it worked as a 1 inch wide strip, but you can work it as wide and long as you want to, making huge sheets of lace if that’s your thing.


Supplies and Equipment:

– #30 cotton crochet thread was used for this piece
prepare 8 strands that are 2 times as long as you need them to be – 16 ends/16 bobbins
18 inches per end (8 pieces that were each 36 inches long) made 11 inches of lace for me
(how-to prepare your bobbins can be found in the Basics of Bobbin Lace post)
– pins
– cork or other pinnable surface


Print a pattern:
1 inch wide lace strip pattern or
large lace sheet pattern (can be cut down or pieced together for any size lace sheet)


This pattern makes use of the Whole Stitch. You can see a detailed diagram of it by clicking here.

Trim your pattern down, lay it on a cork tile (I stack 2 for better pinning) and place a pin in each of the top 4 points.

Hang two pairs of bobbins off the pin at the far left. I placed one pair inside the other because I wanted a perfect end to the lace, but if that doesn’t matter to you you can loop one through the other so one pair is on the left and one is on the right (it’s a bit easier that way.)

Hang a second pair the same way.


Give each pair a twist to start (you only do this at the beginning of the piece of lace.) Twist each pair right over left.

Slide the two bobbins on the left and the two bobbins on the right out of the way.

Make a Whole Stitch with the center 4 bobbins. Be careful to pin right at the cross point between the two lines.


(cross, twist, pin shown in this photo)


cross, twist, pin, cross, twist


The twist is always right over left. Twist both pairs of bobbins.
The cross is always left over right. Cross the two centermost bobbins.

Finish the Whole Stitch – cross, twist.

Place a pin at the far left point – that’s to hold the edge of the lace. Twist the pair on the left (right over left) two times.

Now make a Whole Stitch with the two pairs on the left.

It should look like this.

Carefully slide your bobbins to the left side of the work surface. Add two pairs to the next pin over as before, and give each pair a twist (right over left.)

Move the far right pair out of the way.
Make a Whole Stitch with the next two pairs. Whole Stitch Ground is easiest when you work in diagonal rows, so the next stitch will be on the diagonal to the left.

Slide the right hand pair off to the right side (there should be 4 bobbins over there now.)
Make a Whole Stitch with the left pair from the last stitch, and the next pair to the left.

Make a Whole Stitch in the next spot to the left.

Add the pin at the point of the left edge, twist the left pair two times (right over left.)

Make the last Whole Stitch of that row.

Go ahead and add that left pin and twist those bobbins now. That really ends this row.

Again, carefully move the bobbins to the left, and add the last two pairs of bobbins. Don’t forget to twist each pair (right over left.)

Make a diagonal row of Whole Stitches.

It should look like this.
Now is a good time to pull gently on each thread to keep your tension even. Also, do your best to keep the lace as close to the pattern/cork as possible, instead of letting it slide up the pins.

The right side needs pins at those outermost points, too. Pin the right point, then twist the right pair of bobbins two times.

Now you’re ready to make stitches all the way across the diagonal row.

It doesn’t matter if the stitches from the last row look a little rough, they’ll even out when you do the next row.

That’s all there is to it – just keep making diagonal rows until you run out of thread or make the size piece of lace you need. Continually pull gently on the bobbins as you go to keep the tension even. At the end, work partial diagonal rows to end the lace square to the edges.

As you start to unpin the lace will look like this.


Consult the Basics of Bobbin Lace post for info on unpinning, finishing the end, and applying finishes to your lace!

This is the lace, removed from the paper pattern.