There is sometimes a disagreement between lace makers and embroiderers about Needle lace. Lace makers claim it is lace because it is created with no foundation fabric and embroiderers claim it is embroidery because a needle rather than a bobbin is used to make it. Nevertheless it’s a technique that is interesting and still worked today as these pieces by Dora Northern illustrate. The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston has an example of Reticilla in their collection. This 17th century sampler which is just delightful and has sent me off on a Needle lace link chase.
Needle Lace provided by Lacy Fairy has some good close detailed illustrations of this technique. Another well Illustrated site of items from the collection of Marla Mallett is an article Antique Needlepoint Lace which also includes illustrated definitions of various types of needle lace has been published in an article.
Needle laces are more like a family rather than one type of lace and they have spread themselves all over the globe. Two types of which are Reticella, (Reticello) which is Italian and Hedebo which is a similar stitching style but is Danish.
Guild of Irish Lacemakers provides information about the organisation as well as brief article on Youghal Needlelace which is a type of needle lace born out of need for employment during the potato famine. Youghal Lace can be absolutely gorgeous (check out the close ups of this piece).
In a well illustrated article on Needle lace Lorelei Halley points out that the key stich used is buttonhole. If you feel you would like to try this type of embroidery instructions for Reticella, and Hedebo are online. The Heritage Shoppe has published a 9 step tutorial on how to work Needlelace. Instructions on how to do needlelace stitches are available from vintage craft patterns
For anyone interested in needle lace, stumpwork and textured embroidery the Guild of Needle Laces has information about membership and check out their members gallery.