June 2009

History of Lace Knitting

In the past two issues, we have talked about lace making and different types of lace. Although very pretty, bobbin lace and needlepoint lace were not suitable for making garments. As discussed, Irish crochet was very elaborate and a good choice for garments.

Knitted lace is also a wonderful choice for garments. Lace knitting was popular in the 18th and 19th century. The lace patterns worked in that era were all worked with very fine yarn and small needles. Some of the knitted lace shawls were so fine that could pass through a wedding ring.

Lace knitting probably started in 11th century Spain. They used to knit with fine cotton imported from Egypt and other places. Gradually, this type of lace making made its way into interior Europe, England, and the Shetland Islands. Women in the Shetlands were wonderful knitters and needed a new source of income. They figured out lace patterns and started knitting gorgeous Shetland shawls using the Shetland wool which was perfect for their craft. The intricate patterns used in these shawls became very popular when Queen Victoria started wearing them. Although wearing Shetland shawls was a status symbol in the early 19th century, the women creating these art pieces received very little money for their work, barely enough to help feed their families.

There are other types of traditional lace knitting such as Orenberg Lace, which was very popular in Russia. However, like any other type of lace, lace knitting lost popularity when machine-made lace was invented. Recently, lace knitting has regained popularity, as knitters discover the relaxing effects of knitting lace.

Needlecraft University offers several lace knitting classes. If you would like to learn lace knitting or would like to improve your techniques, check out the following classes:

Nazanin S. Fard

Needlecraft University

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