What is... Hairpin Lace?

Date: 8th May 2014 | Category: Hairpin, Tutorials


Hairpin Lace is a very pretty, simple crochet technique that is worked using a regular hook, plus a fork or loom consisting of two parallel prongs. The process creates strips of lacy loops, which make pretty edgings or can be joined together to make a fabric. Hairpin lace’s name derives from the original tool used to create the strips – the humble hairpin, and this fact immediately conjures up the intricacy of the craft in its infancy. There is such a tiny space between the two prongs of a hairpin, meaning that only incredibly fine yarns and tiny hooks were used to create the fabrics.

Like most crochet techniques, nobody knows when hairpin lace was first created, but it is known to have been around before the Victorian era, when it first became popular with middle-class ladies. In around the 1920s, as the technique had became more widespread while intricate hairstyles requiring hairpins lessened in popularity, the first purpose made forks appeared, in the same “U” shape as a hairpin. These could be made of metal, wood, bone or tortoiseshell and you can still find an array of these gorgeous forks online or in an elderly relative’s craft bag.

The most common tool these days is not a “U” shaped fork but a hairpin loom, which is two pins of metal, wood or plastic, held together by the adjustable plastic or wooden loom 'struts' for ease of varying the strips’ width. The flexible nature of contemporary looms means that many different yarns can be used to work hairpin lace, paving the way for beautiful, unusual modern fabrics to be designed and made.

To create a hairpin fabric, or edge, you work lengths of loopy strips by wrapping the yarn around the prongs of the loom – the wider the loom, the longer the loops. These loops are held together with a ‘spine’ of crochet stitches down the centre, and a fabric is made by a process of joining and edging the strips. This method of producing crochet strips is very repetitive and simple to create, meaning a hairpin project is perfect for relaxation and working in front of the TV.

Tomorrow we'll be releasing the first in our 2-part tutorial on getting started with Hairpin Lace. Don't miss it!

Images: Top and Bottom © Rod Howe (taken from Fashion Crochet by Claire Montgomerie). Middle image © Inside Crochet, Navaho Stole from issue 44

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