Inkscape Extension for Bobbin Lace Grounds

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I have been experimenting with designing bobbin lace grounds. In order to turn these designs into patterns that I can make on my pillow, I wrote a simple tool that lets me draw the patterns. I thought other lace makers might find this tool useful so I am sharing it with you here.


Click on the left and right arrows to browse through a collection of over 200 lace ground patterns. You can download templates for the patterns shown below and use them with my tool. Information on how to use the templates is explained below.

How to Install the Tool

Step 1) Install Inkscape.

Inkscape is a free, open source drawing tool that runs on Windows, Mac OS X and Linux. It is very similar to Adobe Illustrator. You can download Inkscape from the following website:

Note: If you are using Mac OS X Mountain Lion (10.8) or higher, you will need to take some extra steps in order to make Inkscape work.

Step 2) Install the lace tool extensions.

Download the zip file It contains the following four files:

Extract the files from the zip file and place them in the Inkscape extensions folder.

For more information, consult the Inkscape Extensions wiki page.

How to Use the Tool

When you start Inkscape, if the lace tool extensions are installed correctly you should see a menu called "Bobbin Lace" under the main "Extensions" menu. Under the "Bobbin Lace" menu you will see two options: "Lace Grid..." and "Lace Ground...".

The Lace grid tool will allow you to draw a grid of dots. In the pop up dialog you can specify the angle of the grid, the distance between the footside pins and the size of rectangle you want to fill with dots. After you have selected the desired values, click on the "Apply" button.

The distance between footside pins is the vertical measurement between two dots on the grid. When designing lace, you can use the handy reference by Brenda Paternoster to determine the size of your grid based on the size of your thread.

The lace ground tool will allow you to draw a lace ground pattern. Note: In the ground pattern, each line represents a pair of threads. In the pop up dialog you can specify the grid angle, distance between footside pins and the size of rectangle you want to fill with the ground pattern. You must also choose what type of ground to draw by giving the location and name of a template file.

In the overview section at the top of this page, you will see a number of example ground patterns that can be drawn with this tool. You can download these template files for your own use.

For general information on how to use the Inkscape drawing tool, there is an excellent on line book as well as tutorials. For example, you might like the section on bending images.

Design Your Own Templates

In addition to the templates that I have provided, you can create your own.

Here is a sample template which draws the rose ground:

[0,0,1,0,-1,0]	[1,0,2,0,1,1]	[2,0,1,1,3,1]	[3,0,2,0,3,1]	
[1,1,1,2,2,2]	[3,1,2,2,3,2]	
[0,2,-1,3,1,3]	[1,2,0,2,1,3]	[2,2,3,2,1,2]	[3,2,4,2,3,3]	
[1,3,0,4,1,4]	[3,3,3,4,4,4]

The templates must have the following format:

The first line contains the word "CHECKER" (all in upper case) followed by a tab followed by a number followed by a tab followed by another number. The word CHECKER indicates that the pattern will be repeated in a checkerboard fashion. In the future I hope to support other ways of tiling the ground but for now only CHECKER is supported. The first number is the number of rows in a single copy of the pattern. The second number is the number of columns.

The next lines of text describe the lines in the pattern. They consist of square brackets separated by tabs. Inside the square brackets, the numbers are separated by commas and the numbers represent the positions of three points (x1,y1), (x2,y2) and (x3,y3) as shown in the following diagram.

The values are written in the order [x1,y1,x2,y2,x3,y3] and the numbers represent the column and row position of the points in the pattern. Counting starts at 0 and increases to the right for columns and increases downward for rows. For example, in the diagram above, we have a pattern that is 5 rows by 5 columns and the lines drawn are represented as [0,1,0,3,3,2]

For the x and y values, you can also you use decimal numbers for lines that end somewhere in between the grid points.

You can put all of your square brackets on one line or break them into several lines to make it easier to read.

NOTE: Do not leave any blank lines at the end of your template.

Veronika Irvine Last updated: 2-Mar-2014