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Ruskin Lace from the Lake District

Updated on October 30, 2017

Ruskin Lace


The Craft of Ruskin Lace from the Lake District.

Ruskin Lace is a type of drawn thread work , that was introduced into the Lake District in 1884 by poet, artist , writer and philosopher John Ruskin.

John Ruskin loved the Lake District, and had a beautiful home, Brantwood, overlooking Coniston Lake. Ruskin was concerned by the lack of skilled employment for the local people, and he used the old Lake District craft of linen production as the basis for his idea for fine embroidery, cut thread and needlework that took its name from him and beacme known as Ruskin Lace.

These days, Ruskin lace is still taught in special craft courses in the Lake District, and fine examples of Ruskin Lace are to be found at the Ruskin Museum in Coniston , and at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.

Here we will look at some examples of Ruskin lace, see a simple demonstration of making Ruskin Lace, and learn more about where to see Ruskin Lace.

There is also information about John Ruskin's home, and the Lake District area where John Ruskin lived, which he adored.

What Is Ruskin Lace?

Ruskin Lace is a type of "drawn thread " work

Ruskin encouraged the people in the Langdale Valley to make spinning wheels and weaving looms to produce linen cloth, and wheels were also brought in from the Isle of Man.

They then wanted to decorate the plain cloth, and drawings produced by Ruskin led to the development of Ruskin Lace. It is made to a strict pattern, by drawing threads and cutting the fabric.

The leading exponent of Ruskin Lace work is Elizabeth Prickett. From 1970 to 2006 she taught thousands of people how to make this delighful form of lace. She has now retired, but more information and pictures can be found on her Ruskin Lace website.

Find out more about John Ruskin and Ruskin Lace - John Ruskin was a fascinating man

You may like to read more about the great man. In Victorian Britain he was considered one of the best minds.

Artist, patron of the arts, philospher, scholar. John Ruskin was a great intellectual. His private life has been the subject of interest, and his links with the wild "Pre Raphaelite Brotherhood" group of painters has caused much speculation. His marriage to Effie, who later became the wife of John Millais, one of Ruskin's proteges, has been the subject of endless speculation. There will soon be a film about Effie, which should be fascinating.

Here is a selection of books about Ruskin, or you can, of course, look on Wikipedia for more information.

John Ruskin
John Ruskin

A good biography of John Ruskin, instigator of Ruskin Lace.


John Ruskin's writings

John Ruskin wrote extensively. There are massive tomes of his thoughts on art and his philosophies are wide ranging. This book is an extract of some of this keys points.

Selected Writings (Oxford World's Classics)
Selected Writings (Oxford World's Classics)

Read some of John Ruskin's own literary output. He wrote extensively- don't try to read Ruskin's full works!


John Ruskin's art

John Ruskin was an art critic who actually painted himself. He also wrote books explaining to others the best techniques.

This new book contains beautiful examples of his work.

See the work of Ruskin in this beautiful book.

John Ruskin: Artist and Observer
John Ruskin: Artist and Observer

Over 130 finely reproduced examples of Ruskin's work are here, based on the exhibition in Canada and Scotland in 2014.


Ruskin's drawing of details from the Ducal Palace Venice - Ruskin's drawings from his visits to Italy inspired Ruskin Lace


You can see how the stonework from this famous Venetian Palace was echoed by the design of the Ruskin Lace. These are skteches made by John Ruskin, and may have been the inspration behind some of his designs.

The outstanding book about Ruskin Lace for UK visitors

If you live in the UK you can buy books on Ruskin Lace here

The Elizabeth Prickett book, the number one book about Ruskin Lace, can be bought from via this link to Ruskin Lace and Linen work

This is a really fascinating book on the imprtance of craft. For those who like to know the history and social context of craft work. has lots of interesting books on related subjects- please click on this link and search for "Ruskin Lace"

Ruskin Lace

See Ruskin lace on YouTube!

Where to see Ruskin Lace

Samples of Ruskin Lace can be seen in several museums

The Ruskin Museum in Coniston houses samples of Ruskin Lace.

The Armitt Library in Ambleside is also a good soucre of information on local crafts.

Elizabeth Prickett has donated a large collection of Ruskin lace to be housed at

Gawthorpe Hall, Lancashire.

The amazing treasure trove that is the V & A in London has Ruskin Lace work by Elizabeth Prickett, and it is a mine of information on the work of Juhn Ruskin, William Morris, and the Arts and Crafts Movement.

More about Ruskin Lace in the Lake District - Ruskin Lace courses at Brantwood, other Ruskin Lace links.

Brantwood, home of John Ruskin at Coniston in the Lake District it a great place to visit.

At Brantwood you can learn more about John Ruskin, and you can arrange to attend Ruskin Lace courses

Here also you can find more information about Ruskin Lace

Emma Thompson has made a movie about the marriage of John Ruskin. - A new film is being made about John Ruskin's wife, Effie

Oscar award winning actress Emma Thompson is also an author and film director. She is fascinated by the life of John Ruskin,especially the scandal of his marriage and is making a movie in which her husband, Greg Wise, ( star of Sense and Sensibility) plays John Ruskin.

Here is more information about the movie, which is be about Ruskin's strange marriage to Effie.

Due for release soon, those who have seen previews say that Ruskin is not sympathetically portrayed.

American playwright Gregory Murphy had already written a play on this subject, and claims that Emma Thompson stole his ideas.

The movie is scheduled for release November 2014 .

Here's a link to an article and the trailer to the movie, which stars Dakota Fanning.

The order of release by Millais


John Ruskin's then wife, Effie, was the model for this paiting.

Artist John Millais met John Ruskin's wife Effie ( reportedly still a virgin ) when she modelled for this painting The Order of Release.

Later he married Effie....that's another story..

Here are some links to find out more about John Ruskin - John Ruskin, inventor of Ruskin Lace- lots more information.

John Ruskin was a fascinating man.

Find out more about John Ruskin here.

The ancient art of Lacemaking- find it on ebay - Lacemaking items that might interest you

There is stuff on ebay for those of you who love this old craft.

Please leave your comments here- I'd love to hear from you.

What do you think about Ruskin Lace - Truly a niche craft- but much loved by its followers

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    • profile image

      2ues 6 years ago

      This needlework looks similar in style and technique to drawn thread work but the examples here are very beautiful and intricate versions. Next time I visit the English Lakes I will try to visit the places you have mentioned here. In England it is always good to have places of interest to go to on rainy days and keep the walks for the drier ones.

    • Grasmere Sue profile image

      Sue Dixon 7 years ago from Grasmere, Cumbria, UK

      @JeffreyTymczak LM: Thank you Jeff.

    • JeffreyTymczak LM profile image

      JeffreyTymczak LM 7 years ago

      Great job, and very accurate!!! I will definitely be rating this lens UP!!! ;)


    • Grasmere Sue profile image

      Sue Dixon 7 years ago from Grasmere, Cumbria, UK

      @SofiaMann: Thank you Sofia

    • profile image

      SofiaMann 7 years ago

      I remember my mother doing this work. I think it's time to learn how. Is very beautiful. Nice lens.

    • Grasmere Sue profile image

      Sue Dixon 7 years ago from Grasmere, Cumbria, UK

      @TreasuresBrenda: Thank you for your comments.

    • TreasuresBrenda profile image

      Treasures By Brenda 7 years ago from Canada

      Beautiful handiwork!

    • profile image

      julieannbrady 8 years ago

      The Ruskin Lace work of Elizabeth Prickett looks wonderful. I love lace work.

    • Grasmere Sue profile image

      Sue Dixon 8 years ago from Grasmere, Cumbria, UK

      Thank you all for your comments. If anyone has any pictures of Ruskin lace I could use here, I'd be grateful- most are copyrighted.

    • Sylvestermouse profile image

      Cynthia Sylvestermouse 8 years ago from United States

      This lace is beautiful but I had no idea about it's history. Thanks!

    • Grasmere Sue profile image

      Sue Dixon 8 years ago from Grasmere, Cumbria, UK

      Thank you all for your comments, and for your blessing Brenda- much appreciated![in reply to Treasures-By-Brenda]

    • SandyMertens profile image

      Sandy Mertens 8 years ago from Frozen Tundra

      Very nice!

    • profile image

      myraggededge 8 years ago

      Ah.... I have a bedcover, left to me by my grandma - it has a deep border of this kind of lace - I never knew that's what it is! Thanks!

    • profile image

      bdkz 8 years ago

      Super lens!

    • TreasuresBrenda profile image

      Treasures By Brenda 8 years ago from Canada

      Your nicely done history of ruskin lace is blessed this morning.

    • capriliz lm profile image

      capriliz lm 8 years ago

      The lace is beautiful. Never knew it actually had a name.

    • verymary profile image

      Mary 8 years ago from Chicago area

      Very pretty!

    • profile image

      Leanne Chesser 8 years ago

      Great lens. I'm learning a lot about crafts I've never heard of before!

    • Paula Atwell profile image

      Paula Atwell 8 years ago from Cleveland, OH

      Not being a lace expert, this is all new to me. Very interesting. :)

    • SherryHolderHunt profile image

      SherryHolderHunt 8 years ago

      Beautiful lace! Rolling to my Decorating Plastic Eggs lens and Art with Heart