Needle lace is handmade, using stitch work and needles, in contrast to bobbin lace that builds up the design by crossing, looping and knotting the threads. Needle lace can either be worked onto an ancillary background mesh or so that the background and the pattern are created at the same time. Needle lace designs are mostly exquisitely worked variations on the buttonhole and darning stitches.
Needlepoint laces developed from cutworks, which themselves developed from openwork embroidery, all use the buttonhole stitch as a foundation. Early needle laces (reticella) made use of cutwork grounds as the basis for further patterns, but in time the technique developed into one that either created the mesh or could be worked onto an ancillary mesh.
The full size pattern is drawn onto parchment paper, then attached to two layers of fabric to make a stable surface to work on. The work follows the pattern and once completed the lace is cut away from the parchment or fabric, to stand on it’s own.
Well known needle laces include Argentan, Hollie Point, Point De Venise, Point D’alençon, Halas, Inishmacsaint Lace, Youghal, Carrickmacross Kenmare, Point De France, Reticella, Punto In Aria.