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Random bits of my life

Puncetto Valsesiano, Part 1 – Introduction

Posted by Avital Pinnick on July 29, 2010

Call me a trend-setter. No, maybe not. I can’t see an obscure Italian needlelace muscling its way past knitting, crochet, and quilting. Recently someone posted a comment on one of my Flickr photos asking whether I knew of a source for instructions in Puncetto Valsesiano in English. To my surprise, there isn’t a lot available, apart from the 500 page Anchor Manual of Needlework, which costs a fortune to ship to a place like Israel.

Puncetto Valsesiano is a knotted needlelace from the Valsesia region of Italy, in the Piedmont. It is worked with only a needle and thread. Unlike many other forms of needlelace, the patterns tend to be strictly geometric.

If you’re wondering what Puncetto looks like, check out this video. I’m blown away by the yardage that this woman has produced with only a needle and thread.

If you’re a newcomer to needlelace, Puncetto is one of the less demanding forms for beginners because it doesn’t require as careful tensioning as the buttonhole stitch-based lace. (I also confess that I never have the patience to couch the tracing thread to a backing.) You can teach yourself from the video but it’s easier from pictures or diagrams. I’ve photographed the steps for making the stitch and will post them another day. This is just an introduction. One note: I’m not an expert! I taught myself from diagrams with advice from other needleworkers, like Marina, whom I met on the Internet.

Here’s my first Puncetto motif:

Puncetto needle lace

It was copied from one I saw in the video, in the screenshot below. I didn’t make the sketch clear enough, so I forgot to fill in some of the squares.

Screenshot from video

I later started a corrected version. Honestly, I’m not sure I ever finished this attempt!

Puncetto needle lace

Most of the information about this lace on the Web is aimed at tourists. Some lovely examples are shown on this lace blog, Con Nuestras Manos (“With Our Hands”). Very few people do this kind of work. Marina may be one of the only ones. Her work is exquisite. She gave me a lot of advice when I was struggling with the stitches, especially the tipped square or diamond shape.

Puncetto Valsesiano


40 Responses to “Puncetto Valsesiano, Part 1 – Introduction”

  1. aswirly said

    Oh my, I am way impressed.

  2. Miriyummy said

    Never one to shy away from a new form of needlework, I think this may be a first for me. I don’t know if I have the eyesight or the patience for this. Kol hakavod to you that you tackled this. How long did it take you to make that square?

  3. Karen R said

    Wow, that is really neat – I wonder how long it took the lady int eh video to make that length she had? That’s somehting I’d like to see done in person…

    • Avital said

      Good question. For all I know, she may not have been the sole worker on this piece.

      • drikyz said

        “Good question. For all I know, she may not have been the sole worker on this piece.” Hello, I’m the author of the video. She did the work all by herself, like many other even larger. I will publish another video with various works done by my mother. Hi

      • Avital Pinnick said

        How cool! Please send links when you upload the video!

  4. Impressive! I don’t think I have the eyesight for this, but still worth the try.

  5. […] « Puncetto Valsesiano, Part 1 – Introduction […]

  6. […] artist Avital Pinnick has recently posted very useful information on Puncetto Valsesian at The design shown above is one of Avital’s, and although not strictly typical of this lace, it […]

  7. Marny said

    No matter how many times I look at the YouTube video, I would still love to be right next to her and watch in person!

    This needle lace Puncetto Valsesiano is absolutely exquisite and I would like to learn!! Patience and detail are part of why I think this a good craft for me.

  8. Elizabeth said

    I found that the video started the stiching, then jumped to some rows completed. It missed the very bit I needed!!

    Avital, did you work a row of stitches first, – lengthwise over a thread fixed down on fabric, or how did you work the base of the square?

    For the only piece I tried, the instructions started in a corner and was the lower point of a diamond. I found my work curved in the centre – so got cut off!!
    Starting on the straight looks to be a better idea.

    You have soroke the lace beautifully.
    I Love the round centre. That is a whole new area to try!! Going round in circles might be a lot harder!!

    • Avital Pinnick said

      Thanks, Elizabeth! I began with the ladder in the square motif. Motifs that begin from the point of a diamond, like the one you tried, are trickier to get the tension right. I’m not sure I could do a full diamond motif. Must try it sometime. I’m still learning! Yes, starting on the straight edge is much easier.

  9. Onna Addis said

    Love the video. I think I would be able to learn it if you could shoot one again. Over the shoulder, so the viewer sees it how it would look in their own hands. I love it and want to do this..just really cannot break it down as there is too much info missing. Is there a riddle or rhyme you use to do your rows of work? Do you work back and forth everytime or do you do like a brussels lace, where you draw a thread back to the other side and work over both to give it more stability ? I am full of questions aren’t I?

  10. I’d love to do this !!! I must definitively try this needlelace.
    Very nice

  11. […] idea – the foundation chain is almost like embroidering chain stitch in mid air. I also found these tutorials, which are very helpful – although I make the foundation chain like the lady in the video, […]

  12. Krystle said

    Hi Avital! Just wanted to let you know that the wiki version of this page has been chosen for featuring on the wikiHow home page on 3/26. Congratulations!

    I hope this brings you many new fans! 🙂


  13. […] – research source – research source Article […]

  14. […] – research source – research source Article […]

  15. Barb said

    Hey there!

    First off your tutorials helped me out a lot!!! I found the video a will ago and have been hooked on trying figure out how to do this.

    I have a question though, I’m trying to do the square the woman in the video did as well but I’m confused on how to do the diamonds. Is it the same as your diamond tutorial or is there something else I need to do?

    Thank you so much for any help!!


    • Avital Pinnick said

      Hi, Barb, I sent you an email. Thanks for commenting on my blog. (For anyone else who is wondering about the answer, the diamond in the YouTube video of the woman making a square is the same as the diamond in my tutorial.)

  16. Maxine Miller said

    I want to thank you for this tutorial. I have been wanting to learn this needle lace work and could not see the details in her video. Thank you for clarifying the stitch details. I would like to know where i can find some patterns for this work.

  17. Alessandra said

    I am one of those mad people (very few!) who are in love with this lace. If you ever happen to come to Milano I will be glad to show you how it works! I’ve seen your sample; it should be much more tight, you should not see holes among the dots…but this is something that comes with practise!
    I read a question regarding how long it takes…ages!! a 4 cm square takes 5 hours to be finished. I think this is the reason why puncetto is almost unknown, also in Italy!

    • Avital Pinnick said

      Thank-you for the offer! I just may take you up on that. I can well imagine that a 4 cm square would take 5 hours, since one is constructing a thick fabric, millimeter by millimeter. I have great admiration for the women who have done tablecloths and big doilies! I only managed small squares (and my stitches are tighter now).

    • Brekkana said

      Hello, you can do this type of lace knotting? I would love to learn but I am a literal step by step doer. I hope to find more info online, maybe bring this back to life 🙂

  18. Marny CA said

    I hope that when learning this technique that you teach at least one other person how to work this. That is how this technique will become more popular.

  19. Dear Avital:
    Thanks a lot for recommending “A Scuola del Puncetto Valsesiano”.
    I am very happy with the book, started some patterns.
    However, I have a hard time interpreting the diagrams. Especially if it requires changing direction in the middle of the andata row. Without the step-by-step diagrams with red and blue squares it is very hard for me. I managed to make the 8 spiders in a circle before the book arrived (Ragni piccoli uniti), but spent several days trying another diagram with the spider in the middle (22 punti), and can’t get it right…
    Have you figured out how to know when to change direction before the end of the andata row?
    Thank you!

    • Avital Pinnick said

      Hi, Dara, those misto squares that require partial rows are tough! A basic rule I found is that you always go *down*, never up, when you’re going from left to right. In other words, if you are working across, say, the lower diagonal legs of a spider, followed by an empty square, you have to do the return row–the empty square would require you go “up” to form the bridge over the square. That’s one clue that you have to do the return row, covering the diagonal legs of the spider, etc. The next andata row will be the horizontal legs of the spider, which are at the same level as the bridge over the empty square, so you can continue and work the empty square. If the empty square is followed by another spider, you’ll have to work the andata row that makes the lower diagonal legs, then the return row to cover the legs, back to the empty square. Then you would go forward again to work the horizontal legs of the 2nd spider, and do a return row all the way back, to cover the horizontal bars of the second spider, the empty square, and the first spider. If you want to send me a scan (or tell me which design it is in the Scuolo book), I can try to give you more concrete advice. Good luck!

    • Alessandra Duglio said

      Hi Dara,
      happy to hear about puncetto lovers around the world!
      If you post or send me the diagram with the spider you are talking about I can draw the step by step diagram.


  20. The little square and the big round doily I made them. The little square is the real puncetto with geometric design. The doily is made with the Puncetto method but the design is taken from Aemelia Ars or Reticello (Italian) Reticella (USA) from the lace made on the island of Pag, Croatia.When I saw the doily from Pag, I liked it and an idea came to my mind: I will make it with the puncetto method. I studied for a while on how to make the shapes. With determination and patience, I succeded. I went on to do other pieces and developed different methods especially in the beginning and I try to avoid big loops because they never come perfect.

    • Avital Pinnick said

      Hi, Marina! We’re contacts on Flickr, but I never knew your last name before. Your Puncetto work is amazing. I didn’t realise that you’d taken the design from a Pag doily. Very cool!

  21. Caroline in NH said

    I know this is a very old post, but I have just found out about this form of lace and I have now ordered 2 Puncetto books from Italy. No idea how long they will take to get here. I will likely try your tutorials this week. Can you suggest a needle that would be appropriate for a size 20 tatting thread? Cross stitch needle? Tapestry needle? Embroidery needle? Thank you for any help.

    • Avital Pinnick said

      Did you order the books from the “Scuola” series? They are superb! You were lucky to get copies. They went out of print a few years ago and then were reprinted. Be careful with the bindings. One of mine is starting to fall apart. Once you get past the tutorials, I recommend that you take a photo of a pattern and print it, rather than working directly out of the book, so that the spine does not break.

      I recommend a tapestry needle. An embroidery needle with a sharp point might split the thread. The knots should not be pulled so tight that you need to force a needle through, so a tapestry needle (size 24 or 26) should be fine with size 20 tatting thread. But keep a sharp needle and a pair of embroidery scissors nearby to fix mistakes. Unpicking those knots will require a sharp needle. If you make a mistake and only spot it after a few rows, you are better off cutting it out than unpicking all those knots because (a) it’s a slow and tedious process and (b) your thread will be abraded and kinked and will not look as nice. Thread is cheap. Your time is priceless. So if you make a mistake, cut it out and start a new thread. 🙂 The books tell you how to start a new thread so that the join is not obtrusive. Good luck!!!

  22. Eve said

    Hello. I have been researching Punto Umbro/Sorbello and it uses a Punto Avorio/Puncetto insertion stitch but I can’t figure out how to make the shapes or make heads or tales of the instructions. Here’s an example: They’re kind of these little house shapes with connected “roofs”. Any idea of what’s going on?

    • Avital Pinnick said

      Wow– stunning work! If you look at some of her other photos, you can see the construction better. I can’t say for certain without trying myself but it looks like this:

      Row 1: work a block, 3 knots wide and 3 knots high, leave a space (arch), work another block (Remember that with this technique, you can work up the sides of the block). I think this row of blocks was worked on each side of the insertion, with a joining row somewhere in the middle.
      Row 2: Work a knot in each knot of the block, followed by a knot on the arch (you have to leave the thread loose.
      Row 3 is similar.

      This is what row 1 looks like: Work the first block. At the top of the first block, leave a space and work the second block. Each row of the 2nd block is attached to the long thread coming from the first block. You need to work the tension very carefully so that the space looks like a square.
      Row 2 (done with o’s) is a knot in each arch of the block, followed by a single knot in the arch over the space of Row 1.

      I think rows 1 and 2 were done on each fabric edge and that a 3rd row (knot in each arch on both sides) was used to join row 2 on each edge.

      Direction is left to right

      oo o oo ROW 2

      (XXX |(XXX
      XXX) |XXX) ROW 1

      • Eve said

        Thanks. I’ve done reticella before, which uses buttonhole stitch, but still has a same overall format and I was still trying to puzzle it out, because it looks like everything was done in one go, as opposed in two phases (make rows of bricks then attach). I have instructions in a book and it swings from left to right and back from either side of the insertion. If you want to send me an e-mail, I can attach pictures from the book, if you’d like a puzzle.

      • Avital Pinnick said

        This is not like reticella. It seems to use the puncetto valsesiano stitch, which is knotted. I doubt that you could do this with a buttonhole stitch because the blocks would not have enough structure.

        It would be done in one go. The rows of bricks are done on the fabric. Sure, would love to puzzle it out! My email is Thanks! If I figure it out, I’ll send you a photo. 🙂

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