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Valenciennes ground

Valenciennes  ground

Valenciennes ground is the ground or open part of lace in Valenciennes lace. One unit of Valenciennes ground needs 4 pairs on bobbins, 2 on each side. Valenciennes is in northern France, close to the Belgian border. It was famous for lace. This lace was made with very fine thread, and lots of bobbins. Other names for this ground is square or diamond mesh. The ground is a simple pattern, but made of short plaits rather than twisted pairs. See pattern 302.

Valenciennes pattern
Pattern representation of Valenciennes ground

The tradition pattern of Valenciennes ground just marks the pins, or even leaves them out (as Valenciennes ground was often worked without pins). They are set diagonally, similar to Torchon ground, but probably spaced further apart. I prefer to mark out exactly where the lines go - see above right. Remember that each line is a plait, not a pair.

The diagram below shows one pin of Valenciennes ground. It shows each thread as a line, with each thread a different colour. There are two types of stitches in Valenciennes ground, cloth stitch and twist and half stitch. The details of each stitch are not shown in detail below - follow the links in the previous sentence if you are not familiar with them.

Bobbin lace Valenciennes ground

Repeat Step Back

Working: Work the left two pairs in cloth stitch and twist, twice. Work the right two pairs, also in cloth stitch and twist, twice. These have no pins and are equivalent to short plaits.
Now work the middle two pairs with half stitch, pin, half stitch (this is a Torchon ground stitch). The outer two pairs are ignored at this point.
Work the left two pairs in cloth stitch and twist, twice, and the same for the right two pairs, also in cloth stitch and twist, twice. This makes the short plaits to get to the next pins on left and right.

Variants:

The description above says two cloth stitch and twist for the plait between the pins. This is equivalent to four half stitches. There can be more or less half stitches, depending on the size of the pattern and the thickness of the thread.
The description above gives the stitch at the pin as half stitch, pin, half stitch (like a Torchon ground stitch). Other stitches can be used at the pin, such as cloth stitch and twist, pin, cloth stitch and twist, or even half stitch, pin.
The pattern above is on a square or Torchon grid. I think that Valenciennes lace is made on a grid between square and hewxagonal, but I don't know very much about it!

There is a ground called "round Valenciennes". Click here to see how to work it. Both types of Valenciennes ground have the outer pairs stay the same side of the pin, with only the inner pair cross over. This tends to open out the junction at the pin. This square Valenciennes ground should be tightened so it opens out as little as possible. Round Valenciennes ground is deliberately made more open, with visible gaps. This is done with extra twists while working the stitch.

Valenciennes ground has some similarity to the brides or plaits in English Midland and other guipure lace. But the plaits are very regular rather than merely being positioned where needed, so it is a ground.