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Hollie stitch

  • Holy stitch
  • Holy point
  • Hollie point
  • Point d'Espagne
  • Spanish point
  • English stitch
Hollie stitch main image

Hollie stitch is a corded needlelace stitch which is similar to corded Brussels stitch, but each buttonhole stitch has an extra twist.  It is usually worked from left to right and the cording returns the stitcher to the start of the row.  For a whipped version of this stitch see twisted buttonhole stitch.

It is historically used to create patterns or lettering by missing stitches to leave holes.  When used in the round, it is also a feature of Ayrshire work.

The origins of hollie stitch are hard to ascertain: some writers claim it was originally used to adorn medieval ecclesiastical pieces, and it wasn’t used for secular items until the Jacobean era.  However, others suggest that early references to it refer to other forms of whitework stitched by nuns (the confusion arising from the term ‘holy work’).  (There is also a school of thought which suggests the name comes from the holes created by the patterns in needlelace.)

The Cooper Hewitt Museum, New York holds amongst the earliest extant pieces: they have several 18th century samplers (including examples which show the use of the stitch to form letters) and a baby’s cap. The stitch was frequently used at this time to embellish caps and small garments, especially Christening gowns.

Hollie stitch is generously sponsored by Lynne Trapp Fuller Trust


The example below uses chain stitch for outlining the shape, but you could use back stitch instead. You could also outline with a cordonnet when making a needlelace slip (this method is used in the video), or with overcast stitch when working over a void.
The examples show the stitch worked more loosely and with larger spaces than is traditional, in order to see the structure of the stitch.


Outline the shape to be filled with a row of chain stitches. Bring the needle up at the top right corner, carry the thread across the shape and take the needle down on the left side to make a long cording stitch.  Bring your needle back up just underneath where it went down.


Loop the thread around your thumb: take the thread under your thumb, over the top of it and back under it.


Pass the needle under both the outlining stitch and the long cording stitch, then go over the cross and into the loop in order to make a knotted stitch.


Continue in the same manner. When you reach the end of the line, take the needle down on the right side.


Bring the needle up just below on the right side, and throw the thread across the shape. Take the needle down on the left side and come up just below.


The following row will be worked in a similar way. Twist the thread using your thumb. Pass the needle through the previous row and the second long cording stitch, then go over the cross and under the loop.


Continue as required to fill the shape.

Hollie stitch