Loop-and-twist · Structures


Irene Emery describes two variations of the simple looping that was discussed in the preceding post. The first is immediately applicable to purse making on a cup mold and is seen in extant looped purses. (The second variation is also relevant to the knitting loom and will be considered separately with that implement.)

VARIATION: Loop-and-twist

The mesh is somewhat elongated and the stitch made firmer when the simple loop is elaborated by the addition of one or more turns of the element about itself. This is usually referred to as loop-and-twist (if there is more than one twist the number can be stated), occasionally as twisted loop or twisted buttonhole stitch, or differentiated as having a ‘full turn.’ In lace-making it has a variety of other names.

Rather than illustrate this with Emery’s photograph, here is the structure as seen in the chapter on needle lace in Beeton’s Book of Needlework from 1870 where it is termed Point d’Espagne (Spanish stitch):


A variant of this structure — Treble Spanish Stitch — is also shown,


with a third variant — Close Spanish Stitch — all appearing in the Dutch purses:


The single Spanish stitch is twisted once and each of the stitches in the triple and close forms are twisted three times, despite the accompanying text stating all are “worked in exactly the same way.” Beeton also illustrates a simple looped stitch but gives it the separate name, Point de Bruxelles (Brussels lace stitch). However, the Brussels stitch appears by that name in other illustrations where it is twisted.

No latitude for modification appears in the instructions for the first of the Louisiana purses from 1823 but those for the second pattern describe adjustments to the stitch count to accommodate thread size, and the third has implicit need to allow for beading. Regardless of any elective twisting (which the Beeton’s illustrations suggest was applied as desired without separate note), the tripling of the stitches in the first pattern produces a filet mesh of the same basic form as is illustrated here. The height of the open spaces relative to their width is determined by the number of twists.

The second and third Louisiana purses are made with the close stitch, which Beeton says should be worked “so closely as to allow only the needle to pass through in the next row.” If the first purse is seen as intrinsically openwork, the second and third are closed work. The last two share the same basic pattern but the third also includes beads. Twisting is an obvious means for balancing the loops adjacent to a bead with the shape of that bead, where they are not closely matched. If the loop is already larger, multiple beads can be stacked but twisting may still be beneficial. It is a nimbler expedient in any case, than is restricting the selection of beads.

Finally, although the stitch patterns illustrated above are all directly relevant to the purses, they show needle lace being worked back and forth in rows, with the direction of the twist alternating in each. The purses are worked in the round and all twisting is in the same direction.

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