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Cloth stitch and half stitch zigzags
Alternate cloth and half stitch zigzags. See pattern 25.

A zigzag is a solid shape common in Torchon lace. It can be worked in either cloth stitch or half stitch. The effect of the two are different, but they are worked the same except for the stitches.

zigzag pattern
Pattern representation of a zigzag

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 or half stitch.

This pattern shows a small zigzag, 3 pins wide (except the middle pinhole does not show, of course) which travels throughout the lace. Zigzags can be as narrow as two pins wide, or much wider. The other dimension of a zigzag is how far between each turn. This one is short - it can be much longer.

The number below shows the number of pairs actually part of the zigzag at each row. Note that the number stays the same when the zigzag is sloping one way, and changes for the other slope.

Bobbin lace zigzag

Repeat Step Back

Working: A zigzag which travels throughout the lace does not have a start (except at the start of the lace. However, before working part of the zigzag, you need to work the lace above this part of the zigzag. Do not work the edge pins of the zigzag yet. In a zigzag, you work rows of stitches. Work down the the slope of the zigzag, picking up a pair from one side and discarding a pair from the other as necessary. This is similar to a strip. When you reach the row running from the point to the inside of the bend, you will need to abandon the zigzag for a bit, and work the rest of the lace until you have the threads in the correct place for the next part of the zigzag. This may be just part of the ground, or it may be the entire width of the lace! Then work the next slope of the zigzag, and so on.

If the same zigzag travels throughout the whole lace, then there is no end point. If you have made a mistake, you will discover it by finding that there are not enough pairs to go into the rest of the lace, or too many. (In fact, there will be too many in one place and too few in another).

A zigzag may start and stop within the lace, and then it behaves like the start or stop of a strip.

Different widths

There is a peculiarity in zigzags, in that one direction of slope will have a different number of pairs than the other. This is because the zigzag is really made of different strips which are sloping in different directions, and these have different widths.

comparison of strips

The length of the worker threads across a strip can vary, and will be at a subtly different angle. The horizontal row will always be the same length, but the other row has a slight slant, and that will either be shorter than the horizontal row or longer than it (see above). The longer sloping row will have more bobbins than the shorter row. The diagram above shows this effect in two strips, not connected, sloping the same way. As you can see, it depends on whether the first row is towards the short side, or the long side.

In the zigzag animation above, the slope from right to left has less bobbins and the slope from left to right has more bobbins. Do not worry about this! It does not show except for narrow strips, and even there, it gives an interesting effect. If you really want the same number in each half, then you need to repeat the middle row, from point to inside of the bend, and reuse the pin a second time (by looping the pair round the back of the pin when it is already in place). Or perhaps you could make another pinhole on the inside of the bend.

Cloth stitch and half stitch zigzags
Narrow zigzags - note different widths. See pattern 20.

Changing stitch

Cloth stitch and half stitch zigzags

This shows how a zigzag can be worked in more than one stitch. This is easy to do. Work the zigzag in cloth stitch up to the line where the pattern changes. Then work the next row in half stitch, and continue with half stitch until you need to switch back to cloth stitch. See pattern 246.

Start of zigzags

There can be a problem with zigzags at the start of a piece of lace. Most Torchon lace grounds and shapes have well-defined pin holes which can be placed at the start. But the internal workings of a zigzag has no pinholes, so where do you put the starting pins to hang the bobbins?

Zigzag  start
Pattern 18.

One way is to work out how many passives there should be inside the zigzag and put that many starting pins, evenly placed across the start of the zigzag. That means one pair per pin. Also remember that you will need a worker pair, which hangs on one of the edge pins of the zigzag.

The other method is to imagine the top row of the zigzag to be ground, and put that number of pins in. That requires two pairs per pin. Choose one of the edge pairs to be the worker pair. Click here for more on the number of bobbins needed for a pattern.

Colour of zigzags

Cloth zigzags can be coloured the same way as cloth diamonds, by having the workers as a different colour. Click here for more on using colour in Torchon lace.

Zigzag  start
Pattern 140.