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Hand-Manipulated Lace Techniques

Hand-manipulated techniques are a fantastic way to add variation to your weaving without having to re-warp. Consider using these techniques as decorative borders, center motifs acting as the primary focus of your weaving, or interspersed throughout to add special texture and visual interest.  

All of these techniques can be used on both rigid heddle and shaft looms. They require smaller-scale, manual manipulations with your hands and fingers, compared to the speedier process of throwing a shuttle. As such, they are a lovely, slow and meditative respite throughout a weaving project. 

Here are a few step-by-step tutorials on several different lace techniques, and some patterns where they are used.

How to Weave Leno Lace

Leno Lace is achieved by twisting warp threads over each other to create a lacy texture, and employing a pick-up stick to hold the twists in place. You can vary the thickness and width of the twists by increasing the number of threads that you twist. This is 1:1 lace, where a single warp thread is twisted over its neighbor.

1. Start with a closed shed. Working from right to left, twist the outermost warp thread (Thread #1) over the thread to the left (Thread #2).

leno lace step by step photo
2. Slide a pick-up stick under Thread #2 to secure the twist in place.
leno demo step by step photo 2
3. Repeat with twisting pairs of warp threads until you’ve twisted the entire length of your warp, using the pick-up stick to hold the twists in place.
leno lace step by step photo 3
4. To weave, turn the pick-up on its side to open a shed. Pass the shuttle through, and remove the pick-up stick.
leno lace step by step photos 4 and 5
5. Switch to an up-shed, pass the shuttle through, and beat into place with the heddle.
6. Weave 2-3 more weft passes. If you are weaving a tighter lace, you may need to use a tapestry comb, knitting or embroidery needle, or chopstick to center the pick that is affixing the twist in place in between the surrounding picks.
leno lace step by step photos 6 and 7

You can vary the thickness of your lace by changing the number of warp threads that you twist. For example, 2:2 lace is created by twisting groups of 2 warp threads over their neighboring pair. 

The variation below uses groups of 6 warp threads, where the 2 outer pairs of threads are twisted over each other, and the middle 2 warp threads are brought up between the twist and held with the pick-up stick.

leno lace variation photos

    How to Weave Brooks Bouquet

    Brooks Bouquet creates a lace-like texture where the shuttle wraps and cinches bundles of warp yarns together creating “windows” around each bouquet section.

    1. With the heddle up, wrap your shuttle around your desired number of raised warp threads. The number of threads you wrap will determine the size of your bouquets.

    brooks bouquet step by step photo 1

    2. Use your non-dominant hand to hold the wrap in place, and move on to wrap your shuttle around the next group of warp threads. This will help keep consistent tension for all of your bouquets.

    3. Continue across the length of your warp.

    brooks bouquet demo photo

    4. Switch to a down-shed and weave a pick. If needed, use a comb or knitting needle to center your bouquets between the surrounding picks.

    brooks bouquet demo photos

    You can create spaced intervals of any size in between bouquets. Once you’ve wrapped the weft yarn around bundles of warp threads, pass the shuttle back into the shed before bringing it back out through the top of your warp to make the next bouquet. Adding bouquets sparsely will create a lacy “spot-like” effect, where the pick holding the bundles in place will create a gauzier lacy line within your cloth.

    brooks bouquet demo photos

    How to Weave Danish Medallions

    Danish Medallions use a contrasting yarn and a crochet hook to create patterned outlines within the cloth. You can achieve shapes ranging from more rectangular to oval, depending on how tightly you cinch your contrasting yarn.

    1. Weave one pick of a contrasting yarn (which will outline your medallions).

    2. Weave a few subsequent picks of your “background” yarn, which will show up in the interior of your medallions. The number of picks will determine the height of your medallions.

    3. Insert your contrasting yarn shuttle into the warp for the width that you’d like your medallions to be. Bring the shuttle out the top of your warp.

    danish medallions demo photos

    4. Insert a crochet hook beneath your first pick of contrasting yarn, lined up with the width of your medallion.

    danish medallions demo photo

    5. Bring your hook underneath your weaving to catch the contrasting yarn, and hook it back up through the top of your weaving. You should now have a loop of your contrasting yarn emerging through the surface of your weaving, at the bottom of your medallion.

    danish medallions demo photo

    6. Loosen the loop so that you have enough slack for your shuttle to pass through.

    danish medallion demo photo

    7. Insert your shuttle through the loop, and tighten. This should close your first medallion, and position your shuttle back at the top of your warp so that you can proceed to your next medallion.

    danish medallion demo photos

    8. Once you’ve completed your last medallion, insert your crochet hook to create one last loop to close the medallion.

    danish medallion demo photo

    9. Snip the loop. You should now have two ends of the contrasting yarn that you can weave in later using a tapestry needle.

    danish medallion demo photo

    You can experiment with using varying yarns, either for your background weft, and/or the outlining yarn that you use for Danish Medallions. Different thicknesses and materials will behave differently. 

    Below, you can see a variation using Duet as the outlining yarn, and Ode as the background yarn. The stiffer texture of Duet outlines the medallions more prominently, while the squishier Ode creates more defined oval medallions.

    danish medallion demo photo

    As another variation, you can use the weft yarn as the outline yarn, as in the Goldenrod Scarf.

    How to Weave Spanish Lace

    Spanish Lace is made by weaving side-by-side columns of plain weave in sections, rather than passing the shuttle through the entire length of the warp. The appearance of the lace will vary greatly depending on the yarn that you use. Experimenting with different yarn types (and/or doubling or tripling yarns to be thicker) will yield very different results. This can be a great stash buster technique for using up scrap yarn!

    1. Insert your shuttle in an up-shed, for the desired width of the Spanish Lace. In the example below, we’ll be weaving lace that is 8 warp threads wide.

    spanish lace demo photo

    2. Switch to a down-shed and pass the shuttle back in the opposite direction.

    spanish lace demo photo 2

    3. Repeat until your “column” has reached your desired height. Note that the number of picks needs to be an odd number.

    4. Once your first column of Spanish Lace is complete, pass your shuttle through to the next section. In the example below, we’ll be passing the shuttle under 16 warp threads – 8 threads to finish the first section of lace, and 8 threads to start the next section. Since you will be weaving vertical sections, you will not be able to use your heddle to beat the first picks of subsequent Spanish Lace sections. Use a comb or tapestry beater instead to beat your weft into place.

    spanish lace demo photos

    5. Repeat until your column has reached the desired height, and continue through the rest of your warp.

    spanish lace demo photo

    You can control the directional ‘tilt’ of the Spanish Lace based on the side of the warp that you start on. In the example below, I’ve woven two consecutive rows of lace, where the first row goes from right to left, and the second row goes from left to right.

    spanish lace demo photo

    Recommended Gist Patterns

    Ready to practice your new skills? Jennifer suggests giving these projects from our pattern library a try:
    Leno Lace Napkins in Beyond the Basics by Christine Jablonski
      beyond the basics leno lace napkins
      Lace Medley Scarf by Jennifer Mao

        lace medley scarf

        Brooks Bouquet Scarf by Emma Rhodes

          Brooks Bouquet Scarf

          About Jennifer Mao

          Jennifer Mao is a textile artist, weaver, and natural dyer based in Brooklyn. Her woven works explore themes of reciprocity, collective wisdom, alternative economies, and individual agency within a deeply interconnected world. Every week, Jennifer creates one hand-embroidered weaving, which she releases on a ‘pay-what-you-wish’ basis.

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