Nyytinkirukki lace pillow

Artefact of the month - May 2023

May’s object of the month is a nyytinkirukki lace pillow from Joutseno. It was added to the collections of the National Museum of Finland in 1889 at the latest.

Kekka, or nyytinkirukki

Nyytinkirukki is a lace pillow mounted on a wooden stand used for making nyytinki lace (Swedish: knytning), especially in Karelia. Similar lace pillows have also been used in Joutseno and to the south of Karelia, in Ingria and Tartu. The stand is L-shaped, with a pillow attached to the top for working the lace. The lacemaker would sit on the foot of the stand.

Karelian nyytinki laces

Nyytinki is a dense, ribbon-like lace. Until the end of the 17th century, this type of lace was referred to in documents as knytning. In Karelia, the name evolved in the vernacular into nyytinki. Nyytinki laces were made with bobbins without a pricking, or pattern. The bobbins were pieces of wood made from branches by turning, with a groove for the thread. The threads were often dyed.

Nyytinki laces were used particularly in the aprons and headscarves of Karelian costumes, as well as in towels and nästyykis, which are a type of handkerchief. There were regional differences in Karelian nyytinki laces. In the Karelian Isthmus, the districts of Ranta, Käkisalmi, Äyräpää and Jääski each had their own lace styles. For example, in the Käkisalmi district only the hem of the apron was usually decorated. In the Jääski district, on the other hand, aprons were adorned throughout with woven rib stripes and nyytinki laces. The laces were also attached to the aprons differently depending on the region.

Nyytinki laces on the islands of the Gulf of Finland

In the Gulf of Finland, nyytinki laces were made especially on Tytärsaari, from where orders were sent to Lavansaari and Seiskari, for example. On the islands, the women’s outfit included a loose, short top called yliset, adorned with colourful nyytinki laces. The earliest nyytinki laces were red and white.

On the islands, the lace was worked on a ring-shaped lace mattress. Its frame was a wooden ring, topped with moss and fulled wool fabric. The lace did not need to be taken off the mattress, so it was easy to take the ring along on fishing trips, for example. When making lace, the mattress would be placed in a wooden pail or tied to a net-making stand, for example.

Nyytinki laces in the collections of the National Museum of Finland can be viewed online at Finna.

Kerttuli Hoppa


Pentikäinen, Inga, Leimulahti, Irma 2004. Nyytinki. Barbara Fay Verlag.Pitsipuoti Skriini.

Hokkanen, Leena 1991. The bobbin laces of Karelian national costumes: instructions for nyytinki lace-makers. Pitsipuoti Skriini.

Nyytinkirukki lace pillow from Joutseno, added to the collections of the National Museum of Finland in 1889 at the latest. Photo: Ilari Järvinen, Finnish Heritage Agency 2017.
Nyytinki lace apron from the Käkisalmi district, made before 1883. Photo: Ilari Järvinen, Finnish Heritage Agency 2019.
Nyytinki lace apron from Jääski, added to the collections of the National Museum of Finland in 1934. Photo: Finnish Heritage Agency.
Amalia Halli from Tytärsaari working nyytinki lace on a lace mattress. The threads are attached to wooden bobbins. Photo: Tyyni Vahter, Finnish Heritage Agency 1931.