In this blog post, you will see 37 free lace knitting patterns with plenty of inspiration to learn new knit stitches.
Lace knitting creates beautiful items you will love to make and show off.
The intricate design is perfect for items from accessories to garments.
Everything You Need To Know About Lace Knitting!
What Is Lace Knitting?
Lace knitting is a specialized technique within the craft of knitting that involves creating intricate and delicate openwork patterns in the fabric.
Lace knitting patterns feature a combination of stitches, including yarn overs (YO), decreases, and other techniques, to form decorative holes or eyelets in the fabric.
These eyelets are strategically placed to create intricate and often symmetrical motifs, such as leaves, flowers, or geometric designs.
The result is a lightweight and airy textile with a delicate, lacy appearance.
Lace knitting can create a wide range of items, including shawls, scarves, stoles, doilies, and garments like lightweight sweaters and cardigans.
While lace knitting may appear complex due to its intricate patterns, it is accessible to knitters of varying skill levels, from beginners to experienced crafters.
With practice and attention to detail, knitters can produce beautiful and elegant lacework.
It is cherished for its artistic and decorative qualities, making it a popular choice for creating heirloom-quality pieces and unique gifts.
What Is The History Of Lace Knitting?
Lace knitting has a rich and intricate history that intertwines with the broader evolution of knitting itself.
While it’s challenging to pinpoint its exact origins, knitting has ancient roots dating back centuries.
It likely emerged as a natural progression from basic knitted fabrics as artisans sought to create more delicate and decorative textiles.
During the 17th century, lace knitting gained prominence in Europe, with countries like England and France contributing to its development.
The craft was initially shrouded in secrecy, and lace knitting patterns were closely guarded trade secrets.
The 19th century witnessed a surge in popularity for lace knitting, as pattern books and magazines made these intricate designs more accessible.
It was during this time that fine lace shawls, christening gowns, and other delicate garments became highly sought after.
In the modern era, lace knitting has experienced a resurgence, with knitters worldwide exploring traditional patterns, designing new motifs, and incorporating lace into various projects, from elegant shawls to fine garments.
The history of lace knitting is also intimately tied to specific regions, with the Shetland Islands, known for their fine Shetland lace, contributing significantly to the craft.
Today, it is an established and cherished aspect of knitting, with many patterns, publications, and online resources dedicated to its practice.
Knitters continue to be captivated by the delicate and intricate beauty of lace knitting, ensuring that this historic tradition remains a vibrant and evolving part of the knitting world.
What is Shetland Lace Knitting?
Shetland lace knitting refers to a distinctive and intricate style of lace knitting that originates from the Shetland Islands, which are located off the northeastern coast of Scotland.
Shetland lace is renowned for its fine and delicate lacework, featuring exquisite openwork patterns and lightweight fabrics.
Critical characteristics of Shetland lace knitting include:
- Fine Yarn: Shetland lace is typically knitted with extremely fine laceweight yarn, often made from Shetland wool. The fineness of the yarn allows for intricate, lightweight, and airy lace fabrics.
- Traditional Motifs: Shetland lace often incorporates traditional motifs and patterns, such as the iconic “Catspaw” and “Fern” motifs. Intricate combinations of yarn overs characterize these motifs, decreases, and other lace stitches.
- Circular Construction: Many Shetland lace shawls are constructed in a circular or semi-circular shape, often beginning with a center-out approach. This construction style allows for a stunning, symmetrical lace design that radiates from the center.
- Nupps: Shetland lace frequently includes nupps, which are small decorative bobbles created by knitting multiple stitches into one and then increasing the stitch count again. Nupps add texture and visual interest to the lace.
- Sheen and Softness: Shetland lace is prized for its softness and sheen, making it ideal for creating elegant and luxurious lace garments.
- Historical Significance: The craft of Shetland lace knitting has a rich history dating back centuries. Knitters on the Shetland Islands have long been known for their expertise in creating these exquisite lace pieces.
Shetland lace knitting is highly regarded for its craftsmanship and the beauty of the resulting garments, especially delicate shawls and heirloom-quality pieces.
Many knitters appreciate the challenge and artistry of Shetland lace, and there is a continued appreciation for this traditional style within the knitting community.
What Are The Different Types Of Lace Knitting?
Lace knitting encompasses various patterns and techniques, offering a range of styles and complexity.
Here are some different types of lace knitting:
- Traditional Lace: Traditional lace knitting often features timeless, delicate, and intricate patterns, typically using simple yarn overs, decreases, and occasionally twisted stitches. It includes motifs like leaves, flowers, and geometric designs.
- Shetland Lace: Shetland lace originates from the Shetland Islands in Scotland and is known for its fine, lightweight, and intricate designs. It often incorporates complex lace patterns, like the iconic “Catspaw” and “Fern” motifs.
- Estonian Lace: Estonian lace is celebrated for its nupps, small decorative bobbles, and delicate star-like motifs. It typically uses traditional Estonian stitch patterns and fine laceweight yarns.
- Orenburg Lace: Originating from Russia, Orenburg lace is famous for its gossamer-thin, airy, and warm shawls. The patterns often involve garter stitch and distinctive motifs inspired by nature.
- Modern Lace: Modern lace knitting incorporates contemporary design elements and often combines lace with other textures or colors. Designers may experiment with unconventional stitch patterns and shapes to create unique, artistic lace pieces.
- Lace Edging and Borders: Lace edgings and borders are frequently used to embellish shawls, scarves, and other accessories. These simple lace patterns can be added to existing knitting projects to give them a decorative touch.
- Openwork Lace: Openwork lace is characterized by its large and dramatic holes, often created with multiple yarn overs and fewer decreases. This style can result in a bold and airy lace design.
- Combination Lace: Some lace patterns combine traditional lace stitches with other knitting techniques, such as cables or colorwork, to create complex and visually striking designs.
- Eyelet Lace: Eyelet lace is a subset of lace knitting, primarily focusing on creating small holes or eyelets using yarn overs. It’s often used to add a delicate and airy feel to knitting projects.
What Are The Easy Stitches For Lace Knitting?
Lace knitting often features intricate and delicate patterns created by a combination of various stitches.
While lace knitting can be challenging for beginners, there are a few basic stitches that can help you get started.
The most common and easy lace knitting stitches include the yarn over (YO), which involves simply wrapping the yarn around the needle to create an extra stitch, and the knit two together (K2tog) or slip, slip, knit (SSK) decreases, which help you decrease stitches to create lace openings.
These simple stitches are the building blocks of many lace patterns and can be used to create beautiful and airy designs.
To add more variety to your lace knitting, you can also experiment with double yarn overs (YO2 or YO3), which create larger holes and different combinations of decreases.
As you gain more experience, you can explore more intricate lace patterns that incorporate these basic stitches and others, like the centered double decrease (CDD), which creates a pronounced central decrease in the lace.
With practice, you can create stunning lacework that incorporates various combinations of these stitches to form intricate and delicate designs.
What Are The Stitches Used In Lace Knitting?
Lace knitting incorporates various stitches and combinations of stitches to create delicate and openwork patterns.
Some of the most commonly used stitches in lace knitting include:
- Yarn Over (YO): A yarn over is a simple increase that creates an eyelet or a hole in your knitting. To make a YO, bring the yarn to the front of your work, then simply wrap it over the right needle and continue with the next stitch. YOs are often used to form decorative holes in lace patterns. Learn how to do yarn overs here – How To Yarn Over In Knitting
- Knit Two Together (K2tog): K2tog is a right-leaning decrease that involves knitting two stitches together as if they were one. It reduces the stitch count and creates a slanting decrease in the fabric. Learn how to K2tog here – How To Knit Two Stitches Together (K2tog)
- Slip, Slip, Knit (SSK): SSK is a left-leaning decrease that involves slipping two stitches one by one as if to knit, then knitting them together through the back loops. It creates a slanting decrease in the opposite direction of K2tog. Learn how to SSK here.
- Knit Three Together (K3tog): K3tog is similar to K2tog but involves knitting three stitches together. It’s used in more complex lace patterns to create larger decreases.
- Central Double Decrease (CDD): CDD is a centered decrease that involves slipping two stitches together as if to knit, knitting the next stitch, and then passing the two slipped stitches over the knit stitch. This creates a pronounced central decrease in the lace pattern. Learn how to CDD here.
- Purl Two Together (P2tog): P2tog is the purl version of K2tog. It’s used in lace patterns to create a purl decrease. Learn how to P2tog here.
- Purl Three Together (P3tog): Similar to K3tog, P3tog is the purl version and involves decreasing three purl stitches into one.
- Knit One, Yarn Over, Knit One (K1, YO, K1): This combination creates an eyelet with a knit stitch on each side. It’s often used in lace patterns to create decorative motifs.
- Double Yarn Over (YO2 or YO3): Instead of a single YO, you can create larger eyelets by wrapping the yarn around the needle twice (YO2) or three times (YO3). These larger YOs can be used for more open lace patterns.
- Knit into the Front and Back (KFB): KFB is an increase that involves knitting into the front and back of the same stitch, creating a new stitch. It adds stitches in lace patterns and often creates a subtle decorative element. Learn how to KFB here – KFB Knitting – How To Make An Increase
What Is A Beginner Lace Stitch?
A great beginner lace stitch is the Garter Stitch Lace.
It’s a simple lace pattern incorporating eyelets (created with yarn overs) within a garter stitch background.
Garter stitch is one of the easiest knitting stitches, involving knitting every row.
The addition of eyelets in this pattern provides a gentle introduction to lace knitting for beginners.
What Yarn Is Best For Lace Knitting?
The best yarn weight for lace knitting is typically laceweight yarn.
Laceweight yarn is the lightest and thinnest category of yarn, and it is well-suited for creating delicate, open, and airy lace patterns.
What are the best yarn fibers for lace knitting patterns?
- Natural Fibers: Natural fibers such as merino wool, silk, alpaca, and cashmere are popular choices for lace knitting. They have a beautiful drape, sheen, and breathability that work well with lace patterns.
- Silk Yarn: Silk yarn is known for its lustrous finish, making it an excellent choice for lace projects. It adds a luxurious feel to your lacework and enhances stitch definition.
- Mohair Yarn: Mohair adds a lovely halo and softness to lace knitting. When held together with another yarn, it can create a subtle, ethereal effect in lace patterns.
- Alpaca Yarn: Alpaca is soft, lightweight, and warm, making it a good choice for lace shawls and scarves. It provides a lovely drape and retains heat well.
- Linen Yarn: Linen yarn can be used for lace knitting, especially in warm-weather projects. It has a crisp texture and becomes softer with each wash, making it suitable for airy summer lace garments.
- Blended Yarns: Some lace yarns combine various fibers, such as silk and merino, to offer the benefits of both. These blends can result in yarns that are easier to work with and provide a combination of sheen, softness, and warmth.
What Supplies Do You Need For Lace Knitting?
Other than your yarn, needles, and pattern, you also might need stitch markers, stitch holders, a row counter, a tapestry needle, and a crochet hook in case you drop any stitches.
You might also need to block your project, so you will need blocking supplies like mats and t-pins.
Learn everything about blocking here – Blocking Knits – How To Block Knitting Guide
What Is The Difference Between Knitted Lace And Lace Knitting?
“Knitted lace” and “lace knitting” are terms that are often used interchangeably, but they can have slightly different connotations, depending on the context.
However, in most cases, they refer to the same type of knitting technique.
- Knitted Lace: “Knitted lace” refers to a style of knitting that focuses on creating intricate and decorative patterns within the fabric. It emphasizes the creation of lace motifs and openwork designs using various combinations of stitches like yarn overs (YO), decreases, and other lace-specific techniques. When people refer to “knitted lace,” they might highlight the artistic and decorative aspects of lace knitting.
- Lace Knitting: “Lace knitting” is the broader term that encompasses the entire technique of creating lace patterns in knitting. It includes both the process of working with lace stitches and the end result of lace motifs in the fabric. “Lace knitting” encompasses everything from selecting appropriate yarn and needles to following lace patterns and achieving the desired lace effect. When people say “lace knitting,” they often refer to the entire process and technique involved in creating lace designs.
More Knitting Patterns For Inspiration
If you are a new maker and need help with the knitting basics, check out the knitting lessons here – Knitting Lessons (With Video Tutorials).
There, you will find tutorial posts for all the knitting techniques a newbie needs to know.
And if you need more video tutorials, check out my YouTube channel here – Handy Little Me – YouTube.