Kinds of Lace -
  Distinguish Different Types of Lace

  Lace Identification

  © Lorelei Halley 2010

  Site Map    Compare       Lace Terminology       Historical Overview      Bobbinlace - 2 Structural Classes    

  Needle Lace Introduction   Pulled thread Work       Hardanger Embroidery    

  Drawn Thread Work         Embroidery on Net         Filet Lacis and Tenerife/Sol Lace     Knitting Crochet and Tatting 

Hand made lace comes in several kinds, which are all made in very different ways, using very different tools.  In the old days, in the heyday of lace, a lace maker would probably not know how to make different types of lace, but only one form.  Developing enough skill to make really complicated pieces takes a considerable effort and time. Since modern lace makers are hobbyists, doing it for their own pleasure, many of us learn several forms of lace making, so that we can understand their possibilities and limitations.   Some forms everybody knows about, and some are very rare.  Follow the links to see more detail on each form of lace making.  They can be grouped by their tools.


Single thread techniques:    knitting, crochet, tatting   These are the most common kinds, and everybody has heard of them.
Knitted Lace   double pointed knitting needles    Knitting:  usually made on two long needles, but one long flexible needle with points on both ends can also be used (a modern invention). This method is used for making large flat objects. One can also use a set of 4 or 5 needles.  This method is used for working in rounds to make round, hexagonal flat objects  or for  making tubular items like socks.  Both hands are used to hold the needles and the work, and one hand moves the thread around the active needle.   Knitting can be solid for a sweater, or made with holes and lacey.  A stitch called a yarn over is what makes the holes.  It can be made moderately coarse for sweaters or super fine for lace tablecloths or veils.  knitted lace examples
Crochet: crochet hooks     Crochet lace: made with a steel hook about 6 inches long (for fine scale work).  Plastic and wooden hooks can be used for large scale work.  The thread is wrapped around one hand to get control of the tension on the thread, while the hook in the other hand makes the stitches.   Crochet in general is a very useful technique for making clothing and objects for the home, like blankets and afghans.  Worked semi-fine it can make lacey clothing, collars or decorative mats. 
   Irish crochet is a particular style of crochet invented during the 19th century to imitate Duchesse or Honiton bobbin lace, or various needlelaces.  It is distinguished from the more common crochet by having raised and layered parts.  The motifs are worked densely in shapes to imitate plant forms like petals and leaves, and some parts are worked over a thick padding cord to give a raised or relief effect.  The grounding is usually chain stitch with picots, to imitate bobbin lace braids or needlelace buttonholed bars.
Tatting:   Tatted lace in 3 rows
tatting shuttles
  tatting shuttles

  tatting needles  another  Tatting needles must be the same diameter for their whole length, even at the eye.

  narrow shuttles for Celtic tatting
    Tatted lace always has little bumpy rings, but may also have long arches (bars) or oval leaves (center row of blue lace).  It is made with an oval shuttle with one pointy end.  The work is held in the hands with the thread wrapped around one hand as you work. The shuttle in the other hand is moved over and under these wrapped threads to make the knots. At the present time there is a lot of interest in needle tatting, where the stitches are formed onto a needle, instead of using a shuttle.  But it is still tatting.
   The first part of this one shows tatting in process: 
   This one shows the natural movement, slow with thick cord:  

    Start with needle tatting.  It is easier to understand. 
      The best, for absolute beginners:
      This video shows rings, picots, bars, closing rings, attaching to existing rings:
   tatted examples



 Bobbin lace-also called pillow lace:  a multiple thread weaving technique which can produce a wide variety of weaves, meshes, bars, and leaves.  The working base is called a pillow but is actually packed quite hard.  It is really a gigantic pincushion.


  bobbins pillows    
  Bobbin Lace traditional bobbins
 traditional bobbins

 modern bobbins 
 modern bobbins
roller insert pillow
cookie pillow
bolster pillow

  working  Doris Southard, left, and me, at a workshop in Chicago in 1987. 

Historic and antique bobbin lace was made to embellish clothing, and sometimes to decorate household linens.  Modern lace makers do sometimes use the old designs and make reproductions.  But some are also designing new work with very modern designs.

Other tools needed:   pins, pricker, pricking card 

  learning bobbin lace  

See  many photos of lacemakers a work.

 more lacemakers at work.

    Modern laces in the old style.
  by Ilske Thomsen of Hamburg
 by Ilske Thomsen of Hamburg

 by Lorelei Halley
   Modern laces


 Laces made with a needle   (But not all are true needle lace.)
  True Needle Lace
  (punto in aria)

 traditional point de gaze

 traditional Venetian lace

 modern needle lace

needle lace leaf oth218
   Needle lace is basically derived from embroidery and the only essential tools are needles, thread, a pattern and temporary backing materials.  In true needlelace no manufactured parts, or parts made by some other method, are permanently incorporated into the work.  It can be worked in the hand, if the pieces are small, or attached to a pillow so both hands can guide the thread.  It consists of thousands and thousands of buttonhole stitches, of which there are a great variety.
   The basic scaffold is a pair of outline threads onto which all the lace threads are attached.  The working setup consists of 2 or more layers of cloth, with the paper pattern on top.
   Anything can be used as a pattern: any photograph, simple drawing, am image from a child's coloring book.
  See needlelace and learning pages. 
   Working setup, and another working setup.

    modern needle lace     antique needle lace
 Puncetto    puncetto mat  

  another mat   Knotted buttonhole stitches, made with only a needle and thread, no backing needed, with careful tension control.  Designs are always geometric.
  Knotted Mediterranean Lace   
  Knotted Mediterranean needle lace
c/o Carolyn Wetzel

 floral edging
Discussiongroup  for oya/bebilla     Also called bebilla, oya, Turkish needlelace, Armenian needlelace, Kene. Knotted buttonhole stitches made only with a needle and thread.  Can be made directly onto cloth as an edging, or in rounds for circular laces, or as little flowers made into an edging, or to stand alone.  Designs may be round mats or floral designs.
 Filet Lacis and Sol Laces/Tenerife are both laces which, in conception, are embroidery, but they make their own mesh or web or foundation.  They do not use woven cloth or machine made hexagonal net as a basis.     Filet lacis and Tenerife
  Filet Lace --
  Filet Lacis

filet lacis worked in rounds
  Knottted net used as a base for filet lacis
Basic knotted mesh
  Filet lacis is worked on a knotted square mesh, formerly hand made.  Once the net is made, it usually uses a square wire or wooden slat frame to hold the work for the embroidery.  Traditionally the lace maker would start by making her own square knotted mesh, and would then embroider it with cloth stitch or darning stitch, with some other decorative stitches.  Most filet is worked on a square mesh, but it is also possible to create the mesh by working rounds.
  The last half of this one shows various elements of filet in process.  For list of online and printed resources.   more examples and tools  
  Sol Laces 
   tenerife, nanduti, Hvar
Some kinds of working base for tenerife.
 Some possible forms
tenerife shuttle or needle
  Needle for sol laces Very simple practice piece.Very  basic motif
   Tenerife, nanduti, Hvar and the sol laces  are worked on a thread base laid down in the form of spokes of a wheel.  The spoke base can use ordinary woven fabric as a temporary backing, or can use a small wooden, plastic or cardboard form as a base.    Then darning stitch, coral knot and festoon stitch (a loose buttonhole stitch) decorate the spokes and bind them into patterns. Large pieces are made up of multiple round shapes stitched together, but squares and hexagons are also possible.  Nanduti, in particular, also uses small irregular shapes to fill in the gaps between the larger round medallions.

  List of resources online

 Discussion of various templates of different kinds. 

 laces and tools     

  Another working setup:

   And another working setup:


Embroidered Laces
-- laces made on a machine made fabric, either hexagonal mesh or woven cloth.  Embroideries in which holes and transparency play an important part in the design.   These all use tools typical of embroidery: needles and a frame (round hoop,square, or rectangular).
  Tulle Embroidery (embroidered net)  --
  Embroidery on hexagonal net


  Embroidered net

 A piece in process.
 A collection of links to
  photos and work in process.

 The middle of this album has a sampler of stitches.

More embroidered tulle
    Embroidery on hexagonal net. This form is worked on machine made net and first appeared in the world when large pieces of clear machine net became available, during the 1820s and 1830s.
   There are 2 varieties of embroidered net.  One is called needlerun, complex darning patterns' Limerick is another name for it.  The second type is called tambour and consists of chain stitches, which can be made with a needle or a tambour hook.  This type is also called Lierse lace or Coggeshall.
 Embroideries on woven fabric -- embroidered laces.  These also use the tools typical of embroidery: hoop or frame, needles, fabric and thread. 
Pulled Thread Embroidery

 Pulled thread work 

 more pulled thread
   Pulled thread work (pulled thread embroidery, drawn fabric embroidery)  Pulled thread work does not remove any fabric threads, but just pulls them together into clumps, leaving a pattern of holes in the cloth.  Also called ajour arbeit or ajour stickerei.
Drawn Thread Work   Drawn thread work

 Look at photos 56-61 in this album. 
    Drawn thread embroidery. This kind does remove some fabric threads in a regular pattern, usually leaving a very loose web in place.
   Threads can be withdrawn in only one direction, or in two.
Hardanger  Hardanger 
 Ukrainian myreschka
 Greek Lefkara 
 Reticella embroidery

 more Hardanger   
    Hardanger embroidery.  Designs are geometric, based on square holes where fabric threads are cut out. 
    The Hardanger style was originally Norwegian, but has become popular in many places in the world.  Greece and the Ukraine have their own version of geometric cutwork embroidery.
     The original was probably the Italian reticello embroidery.
 Buratto   small Buratto mat  

 detail - large mat
         Uses all the filling stitches and decorative stitches of filet lacis, but it is worked on a very loosely woven cloth with large gaps between the threads.  So it looks like filet lacis from a distance.


Human ingenuity constantly creates new ideas and new combinations.  In the lace world this can drive you crazy because of all the hybrid forms that have been invented.

Mixed lace:  laces incorporating some manufactured parts or applique.

Patchwork Laces were popular around 1900.  These were sewn together from small pieces made by entirely different elements.  Most that I have seen included some bobbin lace and some filet lacis, but other elements also occurred.

Also look at Compare, which shows some of these kinds side by side, to help you learn to distinguish the different types of lace.

To see many different forms of lacemaking in process:

A  site for the discussion of all forms of hand made lace:   See   for needle lace in particular.

An exhaustive list:

December 10, 2010                   Last edited:   01/19/20