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Learn Armenian Needlelace

As strong as it is delicate, Armenian needlelace is among humanity's oldest and most intricate forms of needlework, evoking mountains and rainbows of home. Its distinctive interlacing patterns, thought to trap or confuse evil spirits and intentions, also appear on ancient Armenian architecture and stone carvings, depicting Earth-honoring elements of culture and place. While tricky to master, practicing this art can prove infinitely rewarding to the patient seeker.

In Elise Youssoufian's Two-Day Armenian Needlelace workshops, you will discover unique intricacies of this life-affirming art, with stories of its living history and cultural significance, as you experience making needlelace first-hand. New students will begin to make a sampler of foundational patterns, and returning students will build on the fundamentals to grow their skills.

ABOUT ELISE: Elise learned her ancestral art with celebrated Armenian artisans in 2019 and has continued through countless hours of joyful practice ever since. Currently in a Women's Spirituality PhD program researching relationships between handiwork and healing, Elise holds an MFA in Interdisciplinary Arts and is a board-certified therapeutic musician. As a healing-centered poet, weaver, scholar, and singer, she has been teaching since 2009 and offering needlelace workshops 2021 onward, in the US and Armenia.


To sign up for an upcoming workshop, complete and return this registration form, either in person or by emailing it to info@lacismuseum.org — or simply call us at (510) 843-7290.

Two-Day Workshops


A Dance of Knots and Loops:
An Introductory/Continuing Skills Workshop
(10% discount for returning students)

Saturdays: June 15 and June 22
12:30 to 4:30 pm

For more 2024 dates, see below

In this two-part workshop, Elise will adapt the curriculum to your abilities! New students will explore fundamentals of Armenian needlelace by making foundational knots and loops on fabric edges to begin a sampler of key patterns, and become familiar with integral symbols, terms, and methods. Returning students will build on the fundamentals to grow their skills through more complex designs and techniques, including needlelace medallions.
    This workshop includes all materials needed: needles and threads in several sizes, scissors, and fabric. Use the week between sessions to practice what you learned in part one, so you can be ready for next steps in part two.

Prerequisite: To learn this craft, you will need basic needlework skills.
    Unfamiliar with threading a needle? Unsure which is the "working end" of your thread? Never fear! Everyone has to start somewhere! All you need to do is practice blanket stitches a few times, and then you'll be ready for the joys of the two-day workshop.


Saturday Workshops in 2024:

   •   March 16 and 23
   •   June 15 and 22
   •   September 14 and 21
   •   December 14 and 21

Monthly Practice Circles

Every 1st Saturday, 10 am to 12 pm
$20 to $10, Sliding Scale

For 2024 dates and to RSVP, see below

Our monthly Practice Circles are a chance to review and refine skills with Elise, open to anyone who has already taken at least one Armenian Needlelace workshop.
The workshops will acquaint you with the necessary skills to develop and expand your practice, but the conventional classroom experience can only take you so far. Traditionally, the long-term transmission of textile arts such as Armenian needlelace takes place in close-knit, regularly gathering communities.
    Our hope is that each Practice Circle will include learners with varying levels of proficiency, creating truly circular, collective experiences in which learners can help each other grow their skills, for the mutual enrichment of all.

Upcoming Saturday Practice Circles:
RSVP here, at least two days in advance.

   •   July 6
   •   August 3
   •   September 7
   •   October 5
   •   November 2
   •   December 7

All the Armenian needlelace pieces on this page were made by Elise Youssoufian, 2019 onward


Armenian Needlelace Resources

Instructional Books

For further study of the technique, context, and meaning of Armenian needlelace, starting with the books Elise keeps on hand during class:

   •   Հայկական ասեղնագործ ժանյակ (Haykayan Aseghnagorts Zhanyak): Armenian Needlelace by Lusine Mkhitaryan—Elise's teacher's mentor, a highly regarded textile artist and lecturer in Armenia—featuring excellent, step-by-step photographs. Note: it is in Eastern Armenian.
   •   Armenian Lace by Nouvart Tashjian: A 1982 Lacis reprint of an essential work, originally from Priscilla in 1923; copies are sold for $16 at the Lacis Museum shop ($12.80 for current LMLT members).
   •   Armenian Needlelace and Embroidery: A Preservation of Some of History's Oldest and Finest Needlework by practioner-scholar Alice Odian Kasparian.


Online Videos

Sometimes it is helpful to have a few online tutorials bookmarked for reference.

   •   BecomeInspired, a YouTube channel featuring lively demonstrations of basic, intermediate, and advanced Armenian needlelace techniques, and much more


Further Reading

No art is without its own unique story, but Armenian needlelace is especially situated within a world of social, historical, political complexity. Here are some reading materials to help you grasp some of the issues which surround and shape it.

   •   Knots That Tie Communities TogetherGassia Armenian, Autumn 2023
   •   An Unbroken Thread: The Story of Armenian LaceOrnament Magazine, August 2023
   •   Heartstrings: Embracing Armenian NeedlelaceThe Armenian Weekly, February 2017


In support of crucially needed humanitarian aid, Elise is donating a portion of workshop proceeds to Kooyrigs ("Sisters")—an Armenian mutual aid org—and the Middle East Children's Alliance. To see why, we invite you to read "A Granddaughter of Genocide Survivors Dreams of Never Again" by Dana Mashoian Walrath, an award-winning author, artist, and anthropologist.



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2982 Adeline St., Berkeley, CA 94703