In this section…
Some Six-Pair Crossings
I first became interested in how six-pair crossings (crossings of 3 tallies or plaits) were worked when researching the techniques used in lace from the Rose Family Sample Book, a book of fine Bedfordshire lace samples dating from the 1860s, which is now in The Lace Guild’s Collection. There were very few six-pair crossings in the 658 unique patterns and, as far as I could see, none like the standard one found in books on Bedfordshire lace. In all of them pairs were used as pairs, rather than being treated as single threads as we would do today. I also found that most of the four-pair crossings were worked in the same way i.e. with four cloth stitches rather than with a windmill crossing. This research into the techniques used in lace from the Rose Family Sample Book was carried out with the help of a Lace Guild Bursary and a copy of my report with details of my findings is in the Guild’s library.
As part of the research I consulted books dealing with laces similar to Bedfordshire to see how six-pair crossings were described. I found two methods (Crossings 4 and 7) that resembled those in the samples but they were worked with pairs as single threads, not as pairs, as were all the six-pair crossings I found. Instructions and digrams for these crossings are given below.
In the diagrams 1 line = 1 pair, and in the instructions all pairs are treated as single threads. Where numbers are used they refer to positions, not to individual pairs.
This is the standard Bedfordshire 6-pair crossing used today.
1. Take 2 over 3 and 4 over 5
2. Take 4 over 3
3. Take 2 over 3 and 4 over 5
4. Take 2 over 1 and 6 over 5
5. Take 2 over 3 and 4 over 5
6. Pin at centre
7. Take 4 over 3
8. Take 2 over 3 and 4 over 5
This comes from The Technique and Design of Cluny Lace by L Paulis and M Rutgers. It is worked as follows:
1. With the right and left- hand plaits work a half stitch over the centre plait
2. Pin at the centre (three pairs on each side)
3. Lift the middle plait and cross the centre pairs of the right and left-hand plaits.
This is also from The Technique and Design of Cluny Lace and is more secure.
1. Lift the right-hand pair of the centre plait and work a half stitch with the right and left-hand plaits
2. Replace the pair from the centre plait, pin at centre (three pairs on each side)
3. Lift the left-hand pair of the centre plait, cross centre pairs of right and left-hand plaits.
This is also from The Technique and Design of Cluny Lace. It is similar to ones found in Rose Family Sample Book and is worked as follows:
1. Take 3 under 2 and over 1
2. Take 4 over 5 and under 6
3. Take 4 over 3
4. Pin at the centre (three pairs on each side)
5. Take 2 over 3 and 4 over 5
This method of working is from Le Puy (La Guipure du Puy and other books).
1. Work a half stitch with the two plaits on the left.
2. Use the four pairs from this half stitch, arranged two and two, to work a half stitch with the remaining plait.
3. Pin at centre
4. Take the third pair from the left over two pairs to the right to join the right-hand pair
5. Take the second pair from the left over one pair to the right to join the other pair from the centre plait. The two left-hand pairs make the third plait.
NB Although the method is different, the end result is exactly the same as Crossing 3. The diagram was drawn so it was easier to see how it was worked but if you shift the blue pairs across to the right a bit you’ll see it is the same as Crossing 3.
This method of working was first was shown to me by Lia Baumeister-Jonker but I have since been told that it comes from the Erzgebirge area of Germany. If you turn the diagram upside down you’ll see that it’s the same as crossing 5 but worked the other way up. The advantage of the working methods for crossings 5 and 6 is that they can be extended to crossings with more than six pairs.
1. Pin between 5 and 6
2. Take 4 over 5 to right of pin
3. Take 2 over 3 and 4 to right of pin
4. Take 3 over 2 and 1
5. Take 6 over 5 and 4, and under 3 and 2
6. Take 4 over 3
7. Take 6 over 5 and under 4
This comes from Dentelle au Fuseau — Les Bases by M Fouriscot and J Chaleyé. I also found one similar to this in the Rose Family Sample Book. If this crossing stopped at step 4 it would be like crossing 4.
1. Take 3 over 2 and under 1
2. Take 4 under 5 and over 6
3. Take 3 over 4, under 5 and over 6
4. Pin at centre
5. Take 2 under 3, over 4 and under 5
6. Take 1 over 2 and under 3