I’ve been asked what patterns I use for altar laces, and where more patterns can be found. I have a collection of old vintage patterns that I love, I use those patterns, sometimes I modify them and sometimes I make up my own. As long as the motif fits the general altar cloth guidelines, and is beautiful, it should work.
My favorite books are:
“Crocheter’s Treasure Chest”: This one has the “Pond Lily” Pattern in it that M.J. Stegeby made for the Los Angeles Temple. It’s beautiful. Patterns that also might be used for altar cloths from this book are “Poinsettia”, “Daisy Ring” and “Sundial”. Some of the others have holes that are too large for altar lace.
“101 Motifs for Thread Crochet”: by the American School of Needlework: This book has the pattern I used for my first altar cloth, motif #101. This book has many good motifs in it that would work for altar cloths, but it does not give directions on how to connect the motifs together. If you you are new to altar cloth making, and want to use a pattern from this book and get stuck with how to connect motifs, I can help.
How you connect them varies, and can change the look of your finished lace by quite a bit. Never fear. There aren’t many wrong ways, and there are lots and lots of right ways that are creative and beautiful.
“Crochet Lace Doilies”
This book is in Japanese, but it has beautiful patterns and they’re diagrammed so you don’t have to know the language. I love visual patterns.
Ondori is another Japanese pattern seller that has beautiful patterns.
In lace books, it’s not unusual to find one good pattern that will work for an altar lace out of a whole book of beautiful lacy patterns, but these books have some of my favorites. I will add to the list as I discover more.
There are patterns also on pinterest that people have posted or created for free. I am collecting some of interest on my pages there. I have a crochet lace pattern and ideas collection, and a tatted lace pattern and ideas collection.
I came across this article from the 2002 Ensign called “Tatting for the Temple”. I love to hear other lacemaker’s stories. This is Candace Munoa’s altar cloth story:
“Two years before the San Diego California Temple was to be dedicated, a letter came to my stake Relief Society president asking that she find women in the stake to make altar cloths for the new temple. The altar cloths were to be tatted or crocheted and had to be completed within 10 months. My ward Relief Society president suggested my name. I accepted the invitation to help with much trepidation because up to that point I had tatted only small strips of lace.
I immediately called a cousin who also tats and asked her to send me several patterns she thought would work for the temple. When they arrived, I quickly chose one and began to figure out exactly how much work I would have to do each day in order to have the cloth completed in time. Each repetition in a pattern, or what I call a medallion, takes 30 minutes to make, and I would have to make three each day. I would have to tat for an hour and a half every day, six days a week, for approximately nine months.
I felt I had gotten in over my head. I was already a busy wife and mother of four children, ages 7 through 12. I was also a brand-new schoolteacher and Young Women adviser.
I was about to say I couldn’t fulfill the assignment, but then I thought of the women who had crushed their china to beautify the walls of the Kirtland Temple and the women who sewed shirts for those who worked on the Nauvoo Temple. I wanted to participate as those women did. I didn’t know where I was going to get an extra hour and a half each day, but I trusted that the Lord would accept my sacrifice and provide a way.
The Lord truly blessed me during those next nine months. I took my tatting with me wherever I went. I washed my hands before I touched it and wrapped it in a towel to make sure it stayed perfectly white. I wanted this altar cloth to be perfect. Many times I would find a mistake and have to pick out as many as five or six medallions, thus increasing the time per day I would need to spend tatting. However, somehow I still found time each day to work on the cloth, and what started out to be a sacrifice became a great privilege and joy.”
Read the rest of her story here: “Tatting for the Temple”, Ensign 2002