Hairpin Lace Crochet

There have only been two times that Crocheting has made me cry. The first was when I was writing my first blog post How I Learned to Crochet. The second time crochet made me cry was when I tried to learn the Hairpin Lace Crochet technique.

When I first stumbled upon Hairpin Lace I knew instantly that I MUST learn how to do this! I loved everything about it. It is really not very hard to learn. It is so pretty – especially when you learn some of the more intricate joining methods. It is really versatile – there are dozens and dozens of combinations to create and join hairpin lace strips! You can combine hairpin lace with standard crochet stitches for some stunning rows in afghans, apparel, and scarves, or as an elegant border. You are limited only by your own creativity and imagination!

hairpin lace 8

Did I cry because I was overcome with the beauty of hairpin lace strips? Did I cry because it was so difficult that I would never be able to master such a complex technique? No – I cried because while I was learning this technique I ended up pinching a nerve in my right shoulder. The pain wasn’t what made me cry. I have a very high pain tolerance. What made me cry was that my right hand and wrist became very very weak and holding anything became nearly impossible.

Okay – I’m left handed, so no big deal I can still crochet without being able to control the useless claw that my right hand had become right? My mother only had use of her left arm and she was the person that taught me to crochet! I can do this! (I wrote about my mother being able to crochet with the use of only one arm in this post – Mother’s Day)

Nope – the crying commenced when I realized that I could NOT get the hook to do what it was supposed to be doing. The eyeball faucets were turned on full blast when I could not crochet at all.Β In hindsight it was the overly dramatic side of my personality that made me have a breakdown over a temporary injury. A lack of patience is what made me believe that I was doomed to never be able to do the craft that I loved most in world.

On an interesting side note – it really didn’t bother me very much that I was also unable to do any household chores. πŸ˜€

A lack of patience is probably what caused me to pinch a nerve to begin with. I was so eager to learn how to make hairpin lace that I couldn’t be bothered with adding the words “Left handed” to my YouTube search for how to tutorials. So since 99.9% of tutorials are for right handed people I tried to learn right handed. The combination of trying to hold the loom which was cumbersome, along with trying to control my crochet hook with my right hand instead of my left, then throw in the really odd way I was sitting at my computer staring at the monitor to watch the tutorial – it was no wonder that an injury of some sort was inevitable.

To make a short story long, I ended up needing to wear a wrist brace during the day and an elbow brace at night for about 6 weeks along with instructions to rest my arm. Of course it goes without saying that as soon as I was sufficiently recovered I grabbed my still brand new barely used hairpin lace loom and tried again. This time I did find a left handed tutorial. πŸ˜€

Lessons to be learned here:

  1. See your doctor if you experience symptoms of a neck, elbow, wrist or hand injury
  2. Be mindful of ergonomics with your crafting station set up and tools
  3. Use instructions and tutorials for left handed people if you are left handed πŸ˜€

Hairpin Lace requires some special hardware – a Hairpin Lace Loom. It is not very expensive and if you are handy with power tools you could probably make your own with some dowels and blocks of wood. I’ve even seen one very clever video where a person made a hairpin lace loom with skewers and empty toilet paper rolls! I don’t really recommend that since it isn’t very sturdy – but I absolutely could see myself coming up with that sort of gadget because I am impatient and hated having to wait for Amazon to send me my loom!

The hairpin lace loom will have holes in the bars that are located on the top and bottom. You can adjust the width of the strips by placing the bars closer together or farther apart. The length of the strips you make is limited to how long the bars are on your loom. I can tell you that I know for a fact that my 12 inch long loom can hold 240 stitches! It was tight but I made it work! To give you some perspective – 240 stitches works out to a strip about 4 feet long.

This post is an introduction to the Hairpin Lace technique. I will feature joining methods and projects that use hair pin lace strips. So off to Pinterest, Amazon, and YouTube with you! See how amazing some of these projects are, order your loom, and find the appropriate dominant hand video for learning how to crochet Hairpin Lace.

I very strongly recommend using a video tutorial since written instructions and drawings/photos of how to position the hook and turn the loom didn’t really make as much sense as actually watching someone do this.

It really isn’t that hard to learn. The loom is a little awkward at first but when you get the hang of it the turning of the loom with each stitch is very relaxing.

Thanks for reading!

~ Tami

 

 

 

 

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47 responses to “Hairpin Lace Crochet

  1. I definitely have to try this. The problem with having just had a birthday is I now have to wait until Christmas for new goodies, or just buy them myself! You can bet I’m getting a loom come payday.
    I’ve recently noticed that I tend to lean or twist my torso to the left when I’m crocheting, and I don’t realise until I stop and have to straighten out my sore back. It can be quite difficult, but I’m really trying to look after myself more when crafting!

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    • There is so much beautiful potential with this technique! And once you get the hang of it, it’s really fun! Since my pinched nerve episode I pay a lot closer attention to little aches and pains. πŸ™‚

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    • Thanks! I am fully recovered! I love this technique – I find the loom turning to be really kind of relaxing. Don’t you? I’m looking at the circle I made for this post and thinking hmmm that looks like the Sun and I need to work it in to a summer project! πŸ˜€

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  2. I have seen pictures of this and admired its beauty and the skill of the maker. Yours is totally beautiful and quite fascinating! Your point about setting up your craft space well is a very good one. I tend to end up looking like a hobgoblin, crouched in a corner! Most attractive…

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    • Oh I wish I could make stuff even half as lovely as some of the hairpin projects I’ve seen Puff! My work always feels so clunky sometimes. I still look like a hobgoblin when I crochet, but I am a hobgoblin with better posture! πŸ˜€

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  3. This is also on my list of things to learn. I see so many patterns for scarves and wraps with lacy rows of this included in the design. Thanks for the encouragement.

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    • If I can do it Jan – anyone can!! It is such a nice element to add to your crochet repertoire – and it is really kind of easy but the finished piece looks so complex!! πŸ˜€

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  4. Tami,
    What beautiful work this is, but this…..”On an interesting side note – it really didn’t bother me very much that I was also unable to do any household chores. πŸ˜€” was quite shocking!!πŸ˜‚
    This reminds me a little of something called broomstick crochet had my adopted Grandma C. did. I love all those pictures, very enlightening, especially since I am all thumbs with crochet. Thanks so much for sharing!

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  5. I love hairpin lace and like you thought it was so difficult to start with. Now I can’t believe that something so simple can be so stunning. I love the circle motifs you’ve made.

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    • Isn’t hairpin lace awesome! It is amazing how easy and relaxing it is once you get a rhythm going. I saw a shawl on pintrest that was made with crochet thread completely done in the circles – it was unbelievably beautiful! πŸ˜€

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  6. I never thought crochet could be hazardous to my health until I stared getting older. All of a sudden my wrists would hurt, my back, my eyes… We definitely need to take care of ourselves! I’m glad your crisis was temporary and you were able to crochet on! Hairpin lace has caught my attention before but I haven’t taken the plunge. One day maybe…

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  7. Ah pinched nerves, unfortunately something I’m way too familiar with. Crochet definitely does exacerbate them, for sure. I imagine myself in my later years hunchbacked with arititic hands from all of this, but oh well. What’s youth, lol I’m 40, if you don’t enjoy it.
    Hairpin is yet another technique I haven’t tried. I really am such an infant when it comes to crochet! I’m sure I’m eventually try it though, especially if you keep posting such pretty pieces.

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    • Hi Trudy! I had never even heard of hairpin lace until about a year and a half ago. You know I always thought it would be my years of wild partying that would do me in, not my crocheting LOL! πŸ˜€

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  8. Wow! This is the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen. Never thought about getting a loom, it always thought of it being hard to use. I also lack patience so I’d probably break the damn thing! Think I might actually order one now though. Can’t wait to see what else you come up with – sorry about your injury, crochet is deffo some kind of sport LOL

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    • Hi Rebecca! Thanks! It’s a combat sport! It really is easy once you get used to it. The trickiest part is positioning the hook when you turn the loom over. Once you figure that out it’s easy to do the basic stitches. And all three of the samples I have in the pictures were done with the same basic single stitch. The magic happens when you join the loops together which is regular single crochet and chains. πŸ˜€

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  9. Wow, that is gorgeous especially the yellow sun. It would look so pretty on a table for the summer.
    I’ve never tried hairpin but after seeing how pretty it is, I think I’m going to order myself a loom and give it a whirl.

    My Grandma was left handed and she taught me how to embroider and tat. I learned everything left-handed even though I am right-handed originally but my wrist always hurt. Once I started doing it with my right hand the pain was completely gone especially when I embroider for 5-6 hours straight.

    I love that we can find so many how to videos today. Though I do miss the time sitting with my Grandma talking as our needles whirled doing counted cross-stitch or those wonderful daisy loops.

    Thanks for sharing your beautiful hairpin laces.

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    • You can tat lace?!? I bought some tatting needles and some thread but never quite got to the point of having the ‘light bulb’ go off. So I have plenty of chains with picots and some very very sad looking circles, but nothing that could be considered tatted lace looking at all! I should give it another shot. I absolutely LOVE anything that has a sun on it. A smiling sun on my shoulder was the first tattoo that I got – yes it is a shout out to one of the best love songs ever written by John Denver! I’m trying to think of ways to include this sun motif into a tank top or a row of them into a summer maxi skirt! πŸ˜€

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  10. Oh Tami, so glad your wrist got better! I had to wear a wrist brace for a short time last year and I can relate to that dread of fearing it may never get better! But as you say, patience does help and yes my wrist did get better…. I love your hairpin crochet…. πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚

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    • Thank you Eleonora! I always have to remind myself to be patient, but that’s so hard to do! I usually end up realizing after the fact that I should have been more patient. πŸ˜€

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