Irish, Broomstick, and Filet: Exploring Lace Crochet

When I first started learning to crochet, the first technique I wanted to try was lace crochet. It didn't take me long to discover that crochet lace is not a single technique but a genre. Lace can be crocheted in any weight of yarn, from thread to bulky yarn, and there are multiple techniques within the genre, from Irish lace to filet crochet.

Many of these techniques were developed in diverse locations and have been worked for generations. The newest issue of Crochet Traditions explores the history of several lace crochet techniques. Each section details not only how to work the technique but also the history behind the crochet style and the crocheters who shared our passion for crochet. Here are a couple of my favorite crochet lace techniques.


A Burano Clones Lace Mask by Maire Treanor


Irish Crochet

Irish crochet became popular in the 1840s in Ireland. A potato blight destroyed much of Ireland's potato crop, eliminating the income of many families. In an effort to make money, many women and girls turned to crochet hooks to put food on the table.  The Irish lace they created is incredible! Irish lace is comprised of individual motifs that are worked separately, then laid out in a predetermined shape, such as a band of lace or a collar, then joined with a crocheted mesh. Although lace collars and cuffs have gone out of fashion, Irish crochet is still used to create beautiful works of art, such as Maire Treanor's Burano Clones Lace Mask.


Raindrops Broomstick Lace Shawl by Jill Wright


Broomstick Lace

Broomstick lace is named for the large knitting needle used to create the distinctive loops that set this lace apart. The largest needle size used is about the size of a broom handle. Broomstick lace is created by using a crochet hook to pick up loops and place them on the knitting needle. After loops have been picked up across the entire row, a predetermined number of loops are "joined" by working single crochet stitches into them. The resulting fabric has amazing drape and is quite unlike any other crochet lace technique.


A reproduction of a doily worked by Laura Ingalls Wilder from a pattern designed by Mary Card


Filet Crochet

More than any other crochet technique, filet crochet offers the ability to create pictures with crochet. This lace technique has historically been used to crochet table cloths, dresser scarves, collars, cuffs, and more.  Worked in double crochet, a series of open and filled "mesh" sections are used to create flowers, animals, and geometrical shapes. This technique is still popular today for everything from home decor to afghans and shawls.


You can also crochet lace using motifs, doilies or doily-inspired designs, or many other techniques. The Fall 2012 issue of Crochet Traditions also explores the history of crochet toys as well as exotic crochet from Sweden, India, and more. Order your copy of Crochet Traditions today to learn about the history of crochet and pick up a new crochet technique. 

Best wishes,

P.S. What is your favorite crochet lace technique? Let me know in comments.


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Crochet Me Blog
Toni Rexroat

About Toni Rexroat

Toni Rexroat is the Online Editor of Crochet Me. Outfitted with several crochet hooks and surrounded by bins of yarn, she has been the assistant editor for Interweave Crochet magazine as well as PieceWork, Interweave Crochet’s sister magazine. She was born and raised in a little town in Wyoming where she was exposed to wool and other fibers at an early age, and began crocheting in her early teens. Enjoying a wide variety of fibery hobbies from crochet and knitting to sewing, she is determined to learn to spin so she can crochet with her own yarn.

5 thoughts on “Irish, Broomstick, and Filet: Exploring Lace Crochet

  1. I love filet crochet! I have made 29 name doilies for people. They make wonderful wedding or anniversary gifts when matted and framed. I was recently commissioned to make two more!

  2. I do a lot of filet crochet and am learning Irish/Clones. The filet crochet can have so many applications from the traditional table runners and mats to dressing up clothing or adding a fun touch to a jacket.
    The Irish crochet motifs are appearing in many runway designs this year, so for those of us that live with a crochet hook in our hands we can have clothing that mimics the designers.

  3. I have had this long love affair with crochet since I was 12 or 13 years and I am now 54 years. Your magazine has very interesting patterns which I would love to make but the trouble is I am so used to looking at diagrams (those that you find in Japanese crochet books) that it is difficult for me to read the patterns in text form or abbreviations. I wish you could include diagrams for all your patterns. The Crochet Traditions seems so exciting as I love things that are antique but then again, I am worried it has no diagrams for me to understand how to make them. Evangelene from Singapore