For discussion of construction and style details of antique Alencon needle lace, and for those who want to learn it.   Alençon  We are now including Argentan. There are some differences but many similarities between the two. Eventually we will be able to clarify. 

Christiane says: "Anne Kraatz in her catalog of laces "Les dentelles" indicates that, nowadays, Argentan laces are those that consist of more significantly by the "brides bouclées" hexagonal network and a smaller number of "modes" or "fillings". Pat Earnshaw also addresses the Argentan and the Argentella too. The latter type, Argentella, I would point out, is made in the town of Argentan and is characterized by its "rosacé network" or "rosette network " but still in the same family as the Alençon . But basically, the two towns of Alençon and Argentan know well and exercise either the three types." "

Members: 69
Latest Activity: Oct 13, 2020

Books and Resources for Alencon Needle Lace

"La dentelle à l'aiguille" by Brigitte Deslesques Dépalle.   (Dorothy Searle translation of part of this book)    Brigitte and Laurie Waters "studied at the Atelier National du Point d'Alencon at the same time in 1980". Brigitte's "book is the definitive work on the technique."  

Laurie Waters translation of Brigitte Deslesques Depalle   La%20dentelle%20%C3%A0%20l%27aiguille.pdf

There is a book, Alencon Lace derived from the original Histoire du Point D'Alencon by Mme Despierres, 1886, that is a translation by Roberta Morgan into English that describes a lot about the organization of the industry.

Pat Earnshaw NEEDLELACE. Merehurst, London, 1991 has a chapter on Alencon and its stitches.  I don't know if her choices are exhaustive or merely common ones.

This video shows lace makers at the school in Normandy, showing how they hold their hands.

A set of photos showing working methods and some antique laces (but not closeups)

Loretta's diagrams for horsehair picots are here.

Loretta's instructions for Brides Bouclées  a one page pdf file.

Stitches of Alencon - ;

Photos of Alencon lace

Discussion Forum

Alençon books 2 Replies

Hy everyone. I learned some Burano and Aemilia Ars stitches. I also do Orvieto Crochet with cotton n.100.I'd like to learn Alençon lace but I'm in Italy and so I have to found a book or some books or…Continue

Started by Francesca Merletti. Last reply by Francesca Merletti Aug 21, 2018.

Concernant la brode, concerning the « brode » in Alençon lace 13 Replies

Bonjour à vous tous,Peut-être pourriez-vous m'aider. J'ai acheté du fil 100/3 en coton pour commencer un essai en dentelle d' Alençon. Est-ce que doubler le fil 100/3 pour la trace sera suffisant ou…Continue

Started by Christiane Machabée. Last reply by Angelina Aug 21, 2018.

How to work the basic Alencon reseau stitch 12 Replies

I have followed the comments about the basic stitch for Alencon reseau with interest.     A few days ago I was fortunate enough to be able to examine some antique Alencon lace under a 400X…Continue

Started by Maureen Bromley. Last reply by Maureen Bromley May 17, 2014.

A beginner's sampler 6 Replies

Here is my first attempt at an Alencon sampler. It consists of 9 half-inch squares and uses gassed cotton thread - size 160 for the reseau in the centre and 120 for the rest. I see that this thread…Continue

Started by Dorothy Searle. Last reply by Karen Roy Jan 2, 2014.

Comment Wall


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Comment by Laurie Waters on September 30, 2020 at 7:17am

Pat was a good friend of mine, but I have to admit she got a lot wrong in her book. I don't know which part you are referring to. 

The black horsehair is used as a base for the tip of picots, and is withdrawn after the picot is complete.

Comment by Myriel on September 29, 2020 at 8:08pm

Alright, I consulted "Needlelace" by Pat Earnshaw and coincidentially it says right in the beginning section about Alençon what the black horsehair was for, I guess that solved this mystery. For some reason this is one of those books that I always forget I own, so I often forget to consult it.

Comment by Myriel on September 29, 2020 at 1:08pm

This is a nice coincidence, I actually bought some horsehair from ebay 2 weeks ago specifically for making Alençon lace.
It's far away from the accurate kind of horsehair, but I'm happy that I managed to get my hands on some in the first place for a decent price.
(I expected there to be a lot of listings for horsehair, but nope, only that single one.)

On another note, dear Laurie, could you go in a bit more detail about the black horsehair that gets removed later, specifically what it was used for?
This is the first time I've heard of temporary horsehair in Alençon lace and I'm quite curious now.

Comment by Laurie Waters on September 29, 2020 at 9:41am

You also need both the white and black horsehair, the black needs to be much finer than the white. White stays in the work, black does not.

Comment by Laurie Waters on September 29, 2020 at 9:40am

The horsehair used in Alençon comes from the very fine forelock hair of locally bred horses.  Alençon is a big center of horse breeding and racing.

But other horsehair is easy to find, since it is used in stringed instrument bows, and also in Native American art. The finest seems to come from Mongolia, and be sure to get products from stallion's tails. (Mares urinate in the wrong direction).  Just google mongolian stallion horsehair and you will find plenty of sources.

Comment by Linda Dumas on September 29, 2020 at 9:16am

Where can you purchase horsehair?  I saw some on Etsy but not sure.  If horsehair is not available, is there a substitute?

Comment by Laurie Waters on September 28, 2020 at 5:32pm

Carolyn, you made my day!  I'm actually thinking about giving up the IOLI work and finally doing my book.  I have so much to say about needlelace - 50 years worth. Now that I am really, truly retired, I have to think seriously about it.


Comment by Laurie Waters on September 28, 2020 at 5:29pm

Laces like Alençon and Point de Gaze were worked in a factory setting. The work was divided up into areas of specialization. One group did the pricking, one did the trace, one did the clothwork, one did the ground, one the corders, one the fillings, one took it off the pattern and put the whole thing together. The workers in any one group had to be as similar as possible. What I'm trying to say, is that this is not a left-handed lace.  You can certainly try to adapt your technique, but I would encourage you to try and train yourself in right-handed techniques. It is possible. If you just can't, then start each row on the right hand side and work from right to left - return from left to right. 

Comment by Linda Dumas on September 28, 2020 at 3:28pm

I am starting to read the articles and it occurs to me, I'm left handed.  Is there any reason why I can't do this left handed?  I would just turn the pattern around.

Comment by Linda Dumas on September 28, 2020 at 3:04pm

thanks Carolyn I would love to read your article too.


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