This altar cloth was handmade by my Aunt Janetta. Crocheted with size 20 DMC Cordonnet lace thread and her grandmother’s heritage hook, it was a labor of love and took nearly two years to finish. It is beautiful! It has the clones knot from our family heritage sprinkled throughout the design. Janetta was able to finish this altar cloth just before the dedication of the Payson Temple, June 7th, 2015.
My daughter Lily is learning to make lace. She has made a few things with yarn in crochet, but she was new to thread. I started up a lacemaker class here locally this week, and she began attending. This is her first lace attempt, a snowflake! This snowflake took two tries to get right. The second time through the pattern only took an hour. She used size 10 thread and a size one Boye steel hook. When it was washed, shrunken, stretched and dry, it really looked beautiful. Lily wants to eventually make altar lace. She’s only 14 right now, but the amazing thing is that altar lace isn’t much different than a bunch of snowflakes, attached together. Once her stitching becomes even, she’ll be ready to make altar lace. Patterns don’t have to be complicated to be beautiful and meaningful.
This roll-stitch snowflake is an original design and incorporates Irish clones knots between the branches. It was made in size 100 thread with a size 24 Tulip brand hook. I made this just to see if I could make the roll-stitch in this size thread, and have used it in my classes to show the skill the old lacemakers had. Size 100 thread is the smallest I’ve found. It worked! Each roll has 21 wraps. The finished snowflake is 3.5 inches across.
There are three rows:
First row, chain stitch a length a few inches longer than the pillowcase you want to edge.
Second row, skip 7 chains of the row you just finished. Double crochet in the next chain. Chain two, skip two chains of the foundation row, double crochet. Repeat across to the end.
Third row, chain one, turn. Seven double crochets in the next double crochet from the previous row. Single crochet in the next double crochet, scallop made. Repeat to the end.
There is a slight difference between the scallop style of the pillowcase picture and the scallop picture above. If you prefer more of a pointed scallop, try this simple alternative:
Alternative pointed scallop for third row– three double crochets in the next double crochet from the previous row, chain two, three more double crochets in the same stitch. Single crochet in the next double crochet, scallop made. Repeat to the end.
As we visited, she told me about it. The pattern is simple, but meaningful. The lace edging is my great great grandma Celinda’s pattern. My great aunt studied the pattern from scraps of lace we still have and wrote it down. My mother adds it as an edging to all her heirloom blessing blankets. It’s beautiful. A little bit of pioneer history, and lots of love, from grandma.
Update: All done!
It is finished! I made modifications to one of the sides and designed corners for the Ebenezer Lace. This altar lace was originally made a specific shape by the request of the temple matron in order to fit a particular altar. After four months in service, we determined that the corner cut idea wasn’t working well. The lace kept sliding out of position without corners to add stability. So I took it home and have been working on a redesign of the edges, including a fill-in for the missing corners.
I was able to continue the Linnaea blossoms as well as the radiating line theme. The corners are complimentary. I am really pleased with the result. This lace will be turned in Friday. Hopefully it will fit as beautifully on the altar as it looks in a picture.
Working with this pattern again makes me happy. I was a little nervous that I wouldn’t remember enough of the pattern, but a few minutes of study and it all came back. It’s like dancing to a familiar tune.
Hello old friend.
I had an opportunity recently to visit with my aunt, Janetta Wells. She is a lacemaker from Payson, Utah, and is currently making an altar lace for the new Payson Temple that will be dedicated June 7, 2015. She told me the story of her lace and why it was special to her.
My Aunt Janetta has lived her whole married life in Payson, Utah, in the same modest house, and raised all 12 of her beautiful children there. When she heard the announcement that they were going to build a temple, just down the street from her house, she was thrilled.
My mother had seen me making lace for various temples, and knew Janetta had made numerous doilies in her life. She asked, “So Janetta, are you going to make an altar cloth for the Payson Temple?” The thought had never occurred to my aunt, but as soon as the words were said, she knew she would, wanted to, she had to. And, she knew she would use great-grandma Ada’s hook to do it.
One of the things Aunt Janetta has from her great grandmother, Ada Christensen Almond, is her lace hook. It’s a vintage Hero brand hook, size nine, made in England. We aren’t sure how old the hook is, or where grandma got it, but it was passed down to her after grandma Ada died, and Janetta treasures it.
Grandma Ada lived a lot of her life in Downey, Idaho. My mother visited her in 1973. She told my mother stories and recited poetry from memory:
“Grandma Ada Christensen Almond had a sharp memory and was kind and patient even though she was confined to her bed and probably had aches and pains. We had a memorable visit and I am glad I got to know her. She later crocheted a baby blanket for me when Angela was born.”
That baby blanket was for me, she died before I knew her, but I still have it. It’s one of the things I treasure from my heritage. In the beautiful white yarn are woven her sparkling silver hairs every so often. It’s a treasure.
These are some memories from her life history–
“The earliest I remember was living on the homestead in Newton, Utah, and seeing my father walk out into the grain field with the grain as tall as he was. And then the Indians coming to glean the grain after the harvest. They would camp down by the stacks and glean every head of wheat that the binder or the thresher left and they were always friendly and father and mother treated them kindly.”
“Then I remember the fields of flowers. The field below the house would be golden yellow with buttercups and tulips and some parts blue with bluebells and larkspurs, and red with Indian Paintbrush. I remember how we loved to gather the beautiful flowers and fill every possible container. It was spring and flowers were blooming and we would each have our favorite stick to dig the segos and take them home to have creamy milk on them. We thought they were delicious.”
“On the farm it was a constant battle with rabbits, squirrels and frost. Then came the depression and we finally turned it to the Mortgage Company. It was a battle, and we lost, or did we? We gained experience. Then we lived in our house west of Downey where our family grew up, it was a long walk to school for the children and for us to get to church, but usually we made it. After walking a mile or so to the church carrying a baby, it was not so easy to stand and teach a class, but those were good years, struggling to meet the problems as they came. There have been some struggles and problems, as most folks have in raising a large family. The joys in their joys and then accomplishments, which we think are many. The sorrows we have had when tragedy came. I am thankful for the many blessings that come each day.” (they had ten children)
Grandma Almond lived to the age of 95.
My aunt chose a pattern from my library featuring a design reminiscent of blooming wildflowers, perhaps sunflowers, or four sprigs of the wild Indian Paintbrush of grandma Ada’s youth. It’s a visual pattern from Ondori. The text is in Japanese, but you don’t need to read Japanese to use it, the crochet symbols on the pattern are universal.
An interesting thing about this design was the modification we made to set the square on diagonal. The original pattern calls for the motifs to be set flat on an edge:
We liked it better set on diagonal, so we modified it just a bit. I like the modification. When she adds the edge, it will be a slightly different edge as well. I’m looking forward to seeing the final project. So beautiful!
From the Ada Christensen Almond History:
MEMORIES OF GRANDMA ALMOND
Grandma Ada Almond was loved very much by her children and grandchildren. She was always fun to visit. Everyone loved to hear her recite her poetry that she had memorized. It seems she had reams of poetry all memorized–very long standard and classical poems. However, one of them we all liked best, especially after SHE was old was:
YOU SAY THAT I AM GROWING OLD
You say that I am growing old; I tell you that’s not so.
The house I live in is worn out, this, of course, I know.
It’s been in use a long, long while; it’s weathered many a gale
I’m not surprised that you think it’s getting rather frail.
The color of the roof is changing, the windows are growing dim,
The walls are sort of transparent, and getting kind of thin.
The foundation is not as steady as once it used to be.
My house is getting shaky, but my house is not me.
These few long years can’t make me old; I feel I’m in my youth.
Eternity lies just ahead–a life of joy and truth.
We’re going to live forever there, as life will go on–it’s grand.
You say that I am getting old? You just don’t understand.
The dweller in this little house is young and bright, I say,
Just waiting in this little house to last through every day.
You only see the outside, which is all that most folks do.
But listen, friend, to what I say, and you can understand too.
You say that I am growing old? Oh, no, I’m not, you see!
Just stop and think about it dear, You’ve mixed my house with me.
“Do not ask your children
to strive for extraordinary lives.
Such striving may seem admirable,
but it is the way of foolishness.
Help them instead to find the wonder
and the marvel of an ordinary life.
Show them the joy of tasting
tomatoes, apples and pears.
Show them how to cry
when pets and people die.
Show them the infinite pleasure
in the touch of a hand.
And make the ordinary come alive for them.
The extraordinary will take care of itself.”
– William Martin
Yesterday the kids and I went to the stables where my daughter works with a few horses on a volunteer basis. She spent a good chunk of this summer training with my sister. For her, horses are freedom.
My two littlest kids love “the horse place”. They watched the goats, climbed on the rocks and had more fun in the dirt and sticks than you’d think possible.
The other day I had the joy of watching a child who is dear to us as he struggled to smile. It’s an effort that for most is simple, but for him has been a journey fit for a novel.
There is something true in the healing, nurturing power of simple things. All of us have a little trauma to overcome in some degree or another. That’s the nature of life in this imperfect space. It’s the simple things that give us wings. Flight is in our nature. Being who we are, we can’t help but fly.
And that, is extraordinary.
I found this in an old box in the garage, full of lacy bits and memories. I showed it to my husband. “Do you know what this is? It’s the handkerchief I made for the Mount Timpanogos Temple dedication.” So many memories attached to this lace.
The Timpanogos Temple was the first temple we’d ever had the opportunity to see built and dedicated. At the time, we were newly married, and students at BYU– barely scraping by on 500.00 a month part-time income. We lived next door to Mirla Thayne, who wrote the children’s hymn, “I Wonder When He Comes Again”. It was about a year before she died.
I also worked, but from home, caring for our upstairs neighbor with Alzheimer’s. Clyde. I’ll never forget Clyde, he was a character, and as innocent as the four year olds in my Sunbeam class. Oh the adventures we had with him– once we found all his clothes neatly hanging from the front door. He’d mistaken it for the bathroom door, and by the time he got out of the house, forgot he was going to take a shower, and figured it was time for a walk. Off he went, and after him I ran. That job carried our rent, and Troy’s income paid for everything else. My mind can hardly wrap around those meager figures looking back, but Troy, who keeps everything, still has the pay stubs to prove it.
There’s a part near the end of every temple dedication that requires a clean, white, handkerchief. I didn’t have one. I looked at the budget. No help there. I wanted to make something special for the temple dedication rather than just order something I didn’t have money for anyway, so I bought thread, a hook, and a book of lace edging patterns with my meager budget instead. I began working the simplest pattern possible. I was nervous, but too new at this sort of thing to be daunted. Though I had seen others do it, this was my very first experience making lace.
After a few false starts, I began to get the hang of the smaller thread, and the lace started looking like something. When I finished, I was so proud of my work, I had no idea how rough and primitive it was. I only saw beauty, and it was beautiful.Later, my mother-in-law sent me a few other temple handkerchiefs, finer in detail, and smaller in thread. The difference, rather than discouraging me, inspired me, and my interest in laces grew.
That was October 1996. Less than four years later, we’d graduated from BYU and moved to the east coast with Troy’s first job at BBN Technologies in Boston. We watched and participated with interest as the Boston Temple took shape. We lived in Waltham, Marlborough, and then Billerica, where I started and finished my first altar cloth. In October 2000, I attended my second temple dedication–this time for the Boston Temple.
There’s something of yourself that gets put in things that you work hard for. I don’t know which of my several lace handkerchiefs I used for that dedication, but I’ll never forget my first. I still can’t make a size 80 tatted handkerchief edging, but there’s always room to grow.
Of all the laces, bonnets, blankets, and edgings I’ve made over my life, I’m tickled to realize that even my very first, was for the love of the temple.