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Scallop headside

Torchon scallop
Scallop headside

A scallop is a common Torchon headside. A headside is a non-straight edge of lace. There is ground or other lace to the right. The scallops along the edge touch each other. See pattern 10.

This page describes a simple scallop. Click here for more complicated scallops.

Another term for this headside is twisted fan. However, while the passives have a similar direction to a normal fan, the workers are completely different. I found the word 'scallop' in an old reference about Dutch lace. I have no idea what this term meant in Dutch lace, but this headside looks like a scallop, so I have borrowed the term! I use 'twisted fan' to mean a fan using cloth stitch and twist.

I have also heard this headside called a shell, a fish tail fan, a Spanish fan, or a fir tree. The Dutch call it Waaier met nerf.

Scallop pattern
Pattern representation of a scallop

The tradition pattern of a scallop is just the pin holes (see left). This can be difficult to figure out what is going on, so I prefer to draw in where the threads go (see right).

This pattern shows a scallop with sides of 5 pins. It is possible to have smaller or bigger scallops. I hope you can see how to adapt the following explanation for those.

This diagram avoids the complexities of the individual stitches by showing each pair of threads as a single line. Where one line crosses another, you should work it in cloth stitch and twist and half stitch, pin, half stitch.

The number below shows the number of pairs actually part of the scallop at each row. This number changes for different rows, and getting too many or too few pairs in a row is a common mistake.

Bobbin lace scallop

Repeat Step Back

Working: Work the lace above the scallop (such as ground and the previous scallop). Work the first row of the scallop across 4 passive pairs, with half stitch, pin, half stitch (this is equivalent to a Torchon ground stitch). Please note that you do not work the point of the scallop yet (this is a common error). Now switch to using cloth stitch and twist. Work back through the passives. There are no pins except at the end of each row. For the next row, work one less passive pair, dropping off the right hand pair. Carry on back and forth, dropping off the right pair every other row, until you get to the last lace-edge pin before the middle. At this point, the last row had two passives in it. Now work right through all 5 passives including the point, and pin. This is all still in cloth stitch and twist. Work back through all the passives again, to the edge. The second half is in reverse. You start with rows of 2 passive pairs, then increasing with an extra pair from the right every other row, until you have four passive pairs in a row. Again, this is all in cloth stitch and twist. Sometimes you are working slightly up the pillow, which feels a bit strange. Finally, for the last row, work back to the edge with half stitch, pin, half stitch, similar to the first row. Remember that the scallops in the headside touch each other, so the last stitch of this scallop is the same as the first stitch of the next.

It is most important to realise that the point pair - the fifth pair in this example - is only worked right in the middle of the scallop, in the middle two rows. It is not worked in any other row. If you do, by mistake, you will get in a bad muddle, with threads going in wrong directions, and you will run out of pin holes. You have been warned!

Cloth stitch and twist twists the pairs with every stitch, which means a lot of twisted threads to persuade to lie snugly if you tighten threads just at the end of rows. Click here for thread tightening techniques - you may wish to try some more sophisticated techniques than usual! Or you can tighten more than just at the end of each row.

Some lacemakers do not use pins for the first and last row of the scallop. It makes it easier to describe, as then all the stitches in the scallop are cloth stitch and twist! But I prefer to put pins in these stitches in the first and last rows, as it makes sure that all pairs are in the correct place at start and end of the scallop.

You might like to give the edge pair an extra twist after every stitch, to make a stronger edge.


You can colour scallops in a similar way to fans by using coloured workers.

Torchon coloured scallops
Alternate coloured scallops headside

If the first (or last) stitch of the scallop is half stitch, pin, half stitch, then the worker pair for one scallop becomes the edge pair for the next. By making the edge pair and the workers different colours, you can have alternate coloured fans.

Torchon coloured scallops
Same coloured scallops headside (pink)

You can make sure that you have all the scallops the same colour by making sure the workers are the same for all the scallops. You do this by making the first (or last) stitch a cloth stitch and twist, pin, cloth stitch and twist (rather than using half stitches). Or of course you could make both the edge pair and the workers the same colour!

If you are not interested in colour, then it is not so important whether you use cloth stitch and twist or half stitch for this first stitch. The effect is different, but it is fairly subtle. The photo at the top of this page (of a commercial Torchon mat) has used cloth stitch and twist. I tend to prefer half stitch, as the threads cross over and produce a stronger and neater result. But it's up to you!

Discussion of what happens at the edge pins

The description above says that you work complete rows of cloth stitch and twist (apart from the first and last rows). This means that the edge pins (at start and end of each row) have a cloth stich and twist before and after each pin - see below (in these diagrams, each line is a single thread).

Torchon scallop edge pins

The pin can be placed either between the two pairs (worker pair and edge pair) or inside both of them. If you place it between the two pairs, then the edge pair will tend to drift in slightly, and you get quite a prominent edge loop (see photo at top). You might like to give the worker pair an extra twist or two, to emphasise this loop. If you place the pin inside both pairs, then you guarantee that the edge pair stays right at the edge, and there is little or no loop. Both ways work - it depends what sort of effect you want.

Wherever you place the pin, you must make sure that you tighten the worker and edge pairs well at the pin. This is true of all fans, but since here we are using cloth stitch and twist, the twists can trap little unwanted loops inside the working of the lace, and these spoil the clean look of the scallop.

Torchon scallop edge pins

There is a way to work a scallop at a pin which speeds things up, and makes it easier to tighten - see diagram above. Instead of cloth stitch and twist, pin, cloth stitch and twist, there is just cloth stitch and twist, pin. The pin must go inside both pairs for this technique. This means that the old edge pair becomes the new worker pair, and the old worker pair becomes the new edge pair. It is a similar technique to footsides. The diagram above shows the lace edge, or left side of the scallop, but the same technique also works on the right side of the scallop.

There are several advantages to this method. There are less stitches, so it is quicker. Less stitches at the pin also means that it is less bulky at the pin, which not only looks nicer (in my opinion) but is also easier to tighten well. Plus, since you keep changing the worker pair, the various bobbins get used in turn, so you are less likely to run out of thread on a constantly used worker bobbin. But there are also disadvantages. It is not the traditional way of doing things. You cannot use colour (since the workers keep changing). And if you are not familiar with fans, you may get confused as to how many stitches there are in each row. Scallops are confusing at the best of times, and this adds an extra layer of potential muddle! Still, once you get accustomed to scallops, you might like to try it. I tend to use this method, unless I am playing with colour.

Other effects

Pattern 54 has several different effects for scallops.

Torchon scallops

The scallops on the left are worked in cloth stitch and twist. The scallops on the right are worked in cloth stitch, which I call cloth scallop.

Torchon scallops

The left scallop on the left is half cloth stitch and twist (with yellow workers) and half cloth stitch (with red workers) - so half a cloth scallop. The second scallop reverses this. Since one colour at any one time is the worker pair, and the other is the edge pair, they can be swapped at any time at the edge (see above). I was trying to make a butterfly here!

Torchon scallops

This swaps the workers and edge pair at every point! Excessive, perhaps... But it shows what can be done. You could play similar games with ordinary cloth fans.