Hand-manipulated laces (also called weaver manipulated lace) are areas of your weaving that create a lacy texture through means outside of your heddle or harnesses. Since you are the one doing the work and not the loom, that means that these laces can be done on any loom that can weave plain weave a.k.a. Any loom!
These weaving techniques can be time-intensive because you are usually focusing on only small areas at a time. You also don’t have your loom doing the “hard” work for you so you can’t speed through it. Ultimately, though, the result is beautiful details that are hard to ignore.
Due to their time-intensive process, you may want to consider the less is more approach. Using any hand-manipulated lace sparingly can add emphasis to certain parts of your weaving and not let all of that work get lost in a sea of lace.
We are going to look at three very different handwoven laces today, but they are all simple and can be done with little to no extra tools.
I always recommend starting and ending your weaving with plain weave for at least a full pass* but at least an inch would be better. This will make sure that your weaving has a stable foundation and will make finishing your weaving simpler.
If you start straight away with your lace weaving then it would be easy for the lace to start to come undone when no longer under tension.
We don’t want that!
Giving yourself at least an inch will also make sure that you have some space to finish off your warp ends. Thinking ahead to how you plan on finishing your weaving is always a great thing to do at the beginning.
This lace technique that is characterized by little bundles or “bouquets” of warp threads with weft wrapped around them.
Brooks bouquet lace is always woven on an open shed so you can use a pick-up stick if weaving on a shed-less loom to make sure it stays open while working with the weft.
With your open shed go under whatever amount of warps that you want depending on the size of bouquet you are looking for. Smaller bundles will result in a finer lace as opposed to larger bundles that will have a bulkier appearance. You can always create a sample if not following a pre-written pattern in order to make sure that it looks the way you want. For the purpose of my sample, I am going under three warps at a time.
After going through your shed one way bring your shuttle back around and over top of all three warps. At this step, you will be back where you first started with this bundle. Bring your shuttle under those same three warps once more and then move on to your next warp bundle making sure to pull your weft tight. You will do this across the entire width of your weaving. You can then do the same thing on the next pick and the next shed or go back to plain weave at any time.
Since this lace is woven on an open shed each pick will have unwoven warps below it. This creates a window-like effect between your bundles and makes a dainty-looking lace.
I have a FREE scarf pattern that uses brooks bouquet that you can get by becoming a member of the Warped Community. Don’t worry, that is free too. Check out everything you get HERE or just sign up below!
Leno weave is woven on a closed shed with the aid of a pick-up stick. This lace gets its appearance by twisting at least two warps around each other and using a weft pick to keep them in place.
To create your leno weave you will use your fingers to twist your warps. With each twist insert your pick-up stick to keep them in the right orientation. Once you have gone all the way across the width of your weaving you can twist your pick-up stick so that it creates a shed.
Run your weft yarn through the now open shed and place it at an angle to help keep your selvedges straight after beating it down. Close your shed, remove the pick-up stick, and beat the weft yarn gently into place.
It is important not to beat the weft too hard because you want to maintain the height of the lace area. If you beat it too hard it will shorten this area and make it look stumpy.
Learn more about weaving straight selvedges HERE.
Looking at spanish lace you can see that it is basically little areas of plain weave that are attached to other little areas of plain weave.
For spanish lace you will be working in one small area at a time then move onto the adjacent area.
In the example above, I am going under four warps at a time.
Spanish lace is also woven on an open shed so use either your rigid heddle, harnesses, or pick-up stick to create a shed to weave in. Take your shuttle under four warps then change your shed. Go back under four warps then change your shed again. Weave under the original four warps plus the next four warps in the weaving (eight warps total.)
The next four warps are the beginning of step one again – so you would weave back and forth in groups of four for the width of your weaving.
Depending on the style you are going for will depend on the size of the lacy areas and how they interact with each other. You can change up the size of each area for more visual interest or even create lacy imagery or patterns.
Consider alternating smaller and larger areas of spanish lace for a simple but interesting lace.
If you are looking for more lace options or weaving patterns then I always recommend The Handweaver’s Pattern Directory by Ann Dixon. There is an entire section on different lace weaves that includes both hand-manipulated and loom laces.
What to do with your hand-manipulated lace
Well now that you know how to weave your hand-manipulated lace, what do you do with it?
There are a lot of options that don’t have to stop with just scarves (although scarves are a great use for these laces!)
Some other options are:
You can also consider your color choices when weaving lace. Weaving all one color will create a more traditional lace, while using bright colors can make it more contemporary.
Whatever you decide to do with your handwoven lace it will add some extra flair and class to your next weaving.