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Making Lace: Basic Techniques

Updated on December 28, 2017

Lace for Beginners

Lace fabrics look beautiful and complicated, making them treasures that may be passed from generation to generation. Many types of lace are intricately constructed, requiring the use of multiple threads wound on bobbins, carefully executed embroidery stitches, and/or detailed paper patterns. For those with the patience and dexterity, such techniques do produce elegant lace.

There are many simple and beautiful laces to make, however, and this lens explores those methods that require only commonly available tools and materials: crochet hooks, knitting needles, and fine wool, silk or cotton. You can find the steel hooks and fine gauge knitting needles at most well-stocked needlework stores.

Let's get started with lace making. Read about these different techniques, then get the materials to try out your favorite.

(Photograph from Wikimedia Commons)

Filet Crochet Lace

Crocheted filet pattern made by the author
Crocheted filet pattern made by the author | Source

Crocheted Lace

Made with Hook and Thread

Crocheted lace can be made by many techniques, including the filet crochet piece shown in the picture. Filet crochet is worked from a chart and uses double crochet stitches and chain 1 spaces to create lace pictures. Other crocheted lace techniques are:

  • Irish crochet, in which individual floral motifs are crocheted, then joined with a crocheted mesh background to produce anything from lace collars to a christening gown;
  • Broomstick lace, which uses an over-sized knitting needle, a crochet hook, and a modified Tunisian crochet method to produce a quick lace fabric using yarn instead of thread. Jiffy lace is another term for this technique; and
  • Hairpin lace, in which thread or yarn is wrapped around a frame and a hook is used to crochet through the middle of the frame. Long strips of lace with loops on both long sides are produced. These loops may be joined to other strips or edged with other crochet pattern stitches.

Learn to Make Hairpin Lace

A simple, inexpensive frame, a hook, and some thread are all you need to follow the instructions in this video tutorial.

I knit these cowls all the time.

Lace cowl created by author
Lace cowl created by author | Source

Knitted Lace

Easier Than it Looks!

The knitting skills needed for knitting simple lace patterns are:

  • casting on and casting off,
  • knitting and purling stitches,
  • making yarn-overs, and
  • decreasing with k2tog or ssk.

Any basic knitting instruction book will have tutorials for these skills. Learn to read lace charts and open up a world of lace knitting possibilities. The yarn-overs and decreases combine to create holes in the knitted fabric, producing the lacy appearance.

The lace scarf pictured here (my own photograph) is in a very simple lace pattern called "faggot stitch" which is named for the bundles of wood the repeated stitches resemble. The pattern for this stitch is:

Cast on an even number of stitches.

Row 1:*k1, yo, k2tog; rep from *to end

Row 2 and subsequent rows: repeat Row 1.

Knitted Broomstick Lace - Jiffy Lace with No Hook

Here is an interesting hybrid: a crochet technique done with knitting needles.

Favorite Technique Poll

image from Wikimedia Commons
image from Wikimedia Commons

Which lace making technique would you prefer?

See results

Your Turn: Do You Love Lace?

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    • profile image

      ChocolateLily 4 years ago

      @kimberlyschimmel: Thanks for the encouragement! Maybe I will one of these days.

    • kimberlyschimmel profile image

      Kimberly Schimmel, MLS 4 years ago from Greensboro, NC

      @ChocolateLily: Just do it! It's not scary once you get started--starting is the hard part. You can do it.

    • profile image

      ChocolateLily 4 years ago

      I'd love to try lace, if I could work up the courage! Thanks for sharing these tips!

    • kimberlyschimmel profile image

      Kimberly Schimmel, MLS 4 years ago from Greensboro, NC

      @TommysPal: My husband's grandmother tatted. I have some beautiful bookmarks she made.

    • kimberlyschimmel profile image

      Kimberly Schimmel, MLS 4 years ago from Greensboro, NC

      @TommysPal: My husband's grandmother tatted. I may try it sometime, but I already enjoy so many crafts!

    • profile image

      TommysPal 4 years ago

      I make lacy items by tatting. Tatting seems to be the forgotten art. I like your crocheted and knitted laces too.

    • kimberlyschimmel profile image

      Kimberly Schimmel, MLS 4 years ago from Greensboro, NC

      @Lynda Makara: I would love to try that some time. Needle lace is so beautiful!

    • Lynda Makara profile image

      Lynda Makara 4 years ago from California

      Years ago I made needle lace and Battenburg lace. I used to make table linens and lace collars for my dresses.

    • rainydaz profile image

      rainydaz 4 years ago

      This looks like a beautiful hobby. I'd like to learn it someday.

    • LiteraryMind profile image

      Ellen Gregory 4 years ago from Connecticut, USA

      These are all very pretty.