Solid areas are dense areas of lace, used as a contrast to the ground. Click here for different shapes available.
A solid area is worked in rows. Most of the pairs are only used once in a row, and these are described as the passives. For solid cloth stitch, one pair is used for every stitch in the row, and these bobbins are called the workers. The same worker pair travels along the row from beginning to end.
Different lace traditions have different names for these workers, such as walkers, weavers, leaders, and runners. In this website, I shall use "workers".
Solid cloth stitch is also known (in French) as toile. English terms are plain work, clothing or clothwork. The German term for all solid areas is Vollwerk.
Working: repeated cloth stitch using the same pair of bobbins across the row. At the end of the row, pin between the workers and the last passives, and tighten. Then repeated work cloth stitch back again.
Many lacemakers twist the workers before putting in the pin at the end of the row, perhaps more than once. It does not seem to be necessary, but it does give a slightly different effect.
Passives leaving a solid cloth area are twisted
However, when you leave solid cloth stitch to enter a different part of the lace, you must twist the pair that leaves. This is not optional. If you do not, then the threads of the passive pair that leaves will tend to separate, which looks ugly.
When working solid areas, you are often dealing with a lot of bobbins between pin and pin, so it often looks a bit of a mess before tightening at the pin. As long as you keep the bobbins in the correct order on the pillow, this should not be a problem. But remember to tighten properly at the pin! The workers change direction here, and if you do not tighten, it may be harder to tighten them later. The passives are not so much on a problem, as they hang straight. The numbers of bobbins involves also means that there is a certain amount of rearranging the bobbins on the pillow.
Here the passives are blue and the workers white. Usually all are the same colour.
The effect of solid cloth stitch varies according to how big the grid is, and how thick the cotton. The photo above gives a very loose version. It can be so tight that it looks like tightly woven cloth.
I have said that usually solid cloth stitch has workers and passives the same colour. However, if the workers are a different colour, they tend to colour the whole shape (as they are used in every stitch) and this can give a pleasing effect to the lace. However, you do need to think what happens to the workers before they arrive at the shape, and after they leave! See using colour in Torchon lace.
The worker threads travel a greater distance than the passives, since they are involved in every stitch, and the passives are only involved in one stitch per row. This may not matter if the amount of solid cloth stitch is small, and different bits of solid cloth stitch use different workers (which usually happens). However, if you have solid cloth stitch with one pair of workers for the whole piece of lace, such as a zigzag, then you will need to wind on more thread for these workers than for the rest of the bobbins, or they will run out of thread.
© Jo Edkins 2016 - return to lace index