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Starched lace. Copper plates. And ink.

These are the tools that Julie Rosvall uses to transform knitted lace into exquisite prints. As a skilled lace knitter, Julie creates scarves and shawls that are beautiful in their own right—but it’s what she does with them after she’s finished knitting that makes them extraordinary.

In her light-filled studio near the sea in Nova Scotia, Julie uses textile relief printing and soft-ground copper etching to capture knitted texture and pattern on paper, creating detailed prints have graced greeting cards, gallery walls, and more than one enthusiastic knitter’s home.

“I believe that all knitting is art, but it’s a practical, and in some cases ephemeral, art,” says Julie. “Whether you’ve made a shawl or a pair of socks, that can represent weeks of your life. Printing the textile on paper is my way of recognizing that.”

Waltz of the Dragonflies Diptych 

I asked Julie for more information about her textile relief printing process.

The first step is to choose a pattern. Unlike choosing a pattern for personal use, when choosing a pattern to print, she looks for strong graphical elements that will withstand a hard blocking and that include lots of white space. Julie is an avid collaborator and community builder, and has made prints with patterns designed by Romi Hill and Lucia Stepankova, among others.

Knitting comes next. Small swatches might only take a day or two of dedicated knitting time, but larger pieces can require weeks of concentration. 

If the piece to be printed is a garment, next comes an initial blocking and a photo shoot, featuring the item as it was originally intended to be worn. 

This is where the printing process takes over. The shawl or swatch is blocked again, this time quite aggressively. 

Vesna by Susanna IC pictured here and above knit in Julie’s signature yarn dyed by Nova Scotia’s own Handmaiden Yarns

The more the knitting stretches, the more white space there is and the better the image, so Julie is strict about stretching and liberal with the pins. 

Next, she covers the knitting in a mixture of white glue and water, working to cover every fiber. This stiffens the knitting, ensuring that it will be able to withstand the inking and printing process without shifting. Drying can take up to a week—even at this stage, the process is slow and deliberate. 

Honeysweet by Romi Hill prepared for printing

When the glue-stiffened knitting is finally dry, the next step is inking.

Julie sometimes uses black ink; other times she mixes her own ink to match the yarn she used or another aspect of the project.

Next, she places paper over the inked lace, then uses a press to apply pressure to the page, transferring the ink—and the image—to the paper. 

Voilà! Peeling the paper off the inked knitting reveals a print.

“Openwork Diamonds” from Barbara Walker’s A Treasury of Knitting Patterns


  • Visit Julie’s website here
  • Find her on Instagram here
  • Through May 12, 2023, Julie’s CONTEXTURE exhibit is up at the Craft Council Newfoundland & Labrador Gallery
photos 3, 4, 10, 11 and 12 by Mel Hattie, Used with permission. All others by Julie Rosvall.

About The Author

Austen Gilliland is a writer, editor and toddler wrangler who dreams of having spare time to fill with knitting. She has a passion for English murder mysteries, puns and ice-cream cones, and spends her weekends searching out the best yarn—and beaches!—that Nova Scotia has to offer.


  • I met Julie at Vogue Knitting Live in New York. As far as I’m concerned this was the best part of the event. I spent some time speaking with her about her work and process. She is such a lovely person and her prints are exquisite. It is wonderful seeing people taking our craft in new and beautiful directions.
    Good luck to you Julie on your upcoming show.

    • Thank you Mary Anne! So many incredible conversations at VKL.

  • So beautiful and evocative of the feeling of a finished piece. I’m smitten. Just ordered cards and a small print.

    • Thank you, Carol. Got your order, and sent an email to let you know I’m in Newfoundland for exhibition opening, but will get your cards and print in the mail as soon as I’m back!

      • I think the lace and prints are beautiful. I wonder if high definition photography would be another way to artistically show off the knitted lace?

        • Rita, I agree, photography is another wonderful way to capture knitting.

          What I love about printmaking is the tactile nature of it. Hard to translate over the screen, the way the knitting embosses the paper. Magical.

          I can definitely see adding a photographer to future collaborations!

  • There is a potter in Asheville, NC who uses old lace which he presses into damp clay to get a lace impression on a slab of clay when he then rolls into a circle to make a mug which is then glazed and cooked. The result is a decorative design on the mug.

    • Amy, I love the look of clay and lace together. I’m planning to meet with Nova Scotia potter Marla Benton about a collaboration. Can’t wait!

  • Fascinating. One question. What happens to the knitted piece after the printing. Is it ruined ? Especially that beautiful shawl. Just curious !

    • Cynthia, excellent question. While the shawls will never be garments again, they are mostly salvaged. I was out as much of the ink as I can, block them one more time, then stitch them to paper. If you take a look at my website you’ll see the Vesna shawl and Shawl #1 both pictured displayed with the prints. That is the final state. Printed, washed, blocked and stitched, framed for exhibition.

      • *wash out

      • Thank you for this response. Very interesting and beautiful work you do !

        • Thank you.

    • I was wondering the same thing!

      • Lisa, I suspect you’ll see my answer to Cynthia, but thought I’d add that if you check out my IG @julierosvall you’ll see photos and video from the past few weeks as I prepared the Beeswax and Honeysweet shawls to be framed.

  • Thank you, it’s beautiful.

    • Thank you, Aida.

  • Oh, wow. Lovely.

    • Thank you, Susan.

  • Oh, Julie! I am so happy to see you here. It was a pleasure to meet you in February, and I agree with the first comment; your work was the freshest thing at VKLNY.

    • Oh Nell, you are so kind. You were so lovely to meet at VKL. I was pretty exhausted, and you arrived on the scene with such a gentle way about you. Thank you.

  • What a beautiful and creative process! The prints are beautiful.

    • Thank you, Sandra.

  • Lovely designs!

    • Thank you, Ann.

  • Amazing creativity.

    • Thank you, Frankie.

  • Such beautiful work.

    • Thank you, Arlene.

  • I would love to take a class to learn this technique. Perhaps at Shakerag Workshops?

    • Jeanette, ooo, I’ve never been to Tennessee.

  • She has the talent of her mom and looks like her dad

    • So true, Alcide. I do often joke that as a girl it was a bit unfair that I got my dad’s looks and not his radio voice.

  • This work is stunning! Off to order something…

    • Thank you! I think I saw your name pop up in the shop.

  • These are lovely.
    They would work well on ceramic tiles as well.

    • Pip, thank you. And yes, ceramics and lace work very well together. Keep an eye on my IG @julierosvall for an upcoming collaboration that I know you’ll love.

  • I too saw and enjoyed your work at VKL this Feb, very beautiful! It reminded me of this print I saw by Louise Eastman who inked and printed a weaving she had made.

    • Thank you, Beth. I love that printed weaving, if I didn’t look at her other posts I’d think it was a cyanotype, but I think it’s a direct textile relief. Beautiful.

  • Very cool! I really enjoyed this piece.

    • Thanks, Maria. We can thank Austen for writing such a lovely article. It was fun to work with her.

  • Thank you Julie for reading and responding to these comments.

    • Pip, it’s been a long road to get here, much of it spent alone, wondering if what you’re doing makes sense at all. It is amazing to get to interact with people about the knit prints. Find out what aspects draw them in. Thank you all for digging in deep enough to take time to comment on what for me is 13 years in the making.

  • No end in sight with this knitting game. Thanks so much

    • So true, Marty.

  • Very k00L! I love this. Thank you.

    • Thank you, Marilyn.

    • This was such a lovely read! And so amazing to see knit pieces to be displayed this way!

      • Thank you, Verna. Austen is a wonderful writer, honoured to have her share my work via MDK.

  • For my interests, the Knit to print article was the very best so far. I plan to investigate further. I spent a business lifetime, from 1979 until 2023 in the printing industry. Although I am not a graphic designer, I appreciate all the work they do making our visual world a more pleasing space.

    • Thank you. What type of printing were you doing during your time in business? So true about designers adding to the beauty around us.

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