In Progress: “Deseret Rose” Altar Lace by Marla

Rose Cloth

This gorgeous lace is from Marla, a tatting and crochet lacemaker in Boise, Idaho, who contacted me recently about patterns.  She found a picture online of what she liked, and recreated it without a pattern.  Saving an older pattern from extinction is a great idea!  She’s calling it “Deseret Rose”, because it reminds her of rosettes.

With older lace patterns, you sometimes can’t find the original.  Often lace patterns in the old days were passed from sister to sister with samples rather than written words.  I have a sample binder in my lace collection that has notes and bits from my previous projects.  It’s a great way to remember what you did before in case you want to do it again.  Writing patterns out can be difficult.  I always save a sample of my laces, that way if the pattern is lost, you still have it.

This pattern is a good one for altar lace because it is light and airy without being fragile.  It has a lot of connections, not a lot of large holes, and it’s beautiful.  It also has a nice gentle scalloped edge which I personally like quite a bit.

Marla’s Deseret Rose Lace is made in size 3o, white thread.  This is her updated photo, now at 71 motifs:

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This is an unfinished lace, when it is washed and blocked, it will be stunning.  It’s already gorgeous.  Beautiful!

Chicago Temple: Story of Dedication and Sacrifice

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Altar Lace: A gift to the Lord

I came across this story in my search for historical accounts of other LDS lace makers. The story of this 78 year old sister was just beautiful:

“The dedication was a day of fulfillment for many of the temple district’s 160,000 members in Illinois, Missouri, Wisconsin, Michigan, Indiana, Ohio, Minnesota, Kansas, Nebraska, and Iowa. In addition to contributing toward building of the temple, many had labored to help furnish it or make it ready for the dedication.

A couple from the Wilmette Illinois Stake, for example, helped unload and place furniture in the temple, then clean it prior to the open house, which began July 15. “It was such a privilege to be asked to help,” the wife recalled. “We wept as we vacuumed and dusted.”

Women from throughout the temple district who are skilled in crocheting and tatting made altar cloths for the ordinance and sealing rooms. One 78-year-old sister from Indiana wrote that though the infirmities of age might make it difficult for her to go to the temple, she was thrilled to be able to participate in this way. An 82-year-old sister from the Dayton Ohio East Stake sent with her finished altar cloth a note offering to make a second one if it were needed; she wept when she received a telephone call accepting her offer.

A group of girls in the St. Paul Third Ward, St. Paul Minnesota Stake, made a dozen dolls for the nursery in the temple, each named for the girl who made it, with the names embroidered on the back. The dolls were presented as the girls toured the temple during the open house. Afterward, their leaders wrote to temple matron Betty Cahoon: “It was an exceptionally good experience for the girls to do something that would be meaningful for the young people. It will be a wonderful memory for them.”

The temple not only touched Latter-day Saints, but also many non-LDS visitors. Some 100,065 visited the temple before the open house ended August 3. They expressed sentiments such as “an obvious place of devotion,” “I felt the hand of God,” “everyone should feel closer to God in this special place.”

Read the entire article in the October 1985 Ensign.

64 Crochet Lace Altar Cloths

altarlace

Gift of Faith: Hand crocheted altar lace for the Lord

I came across this story from LDS.org.  I love the faith!

“I visited the temple in Buenos Aires. Feelings of gratitude welled up within me to know that within the four dedicated temples of South America the fulness of the gospel is blessing the members of the Church.

An example of the marvelous commitment of the Saints of South America was demonstrated by the dear sisters hand crocheting sixty-four altar cloths for the Buenos Aires Temple when only seven were requested.

–Elder M. Russell Ballard, Ensign May 1986, “The Kingdom Rolls Forth in South America”

Ensign Article: Tatting Altar Lace for the San Diego Temple

San Diego Temple, photo by Rickety

San Diego Temple, photo by Rickety

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

Tatting Altar Lace: Ann’s Story

Ann's Tatted Altar Lace: a new work in progress

Ann’s “Snowflake” Tatted Altar Lace: a new work in progress

This beautiful tatted lace is from Ann, a lacemaker I featured about a month ago.  She has started another altar cloth lace.  This will be her third altar lace for the Boise Temple!  She’s made one tatted altar lace, one crocheted altar lace and is beginning her third altar lace.

Ann sent me this picture of it, and this story:

“Years ago I thought it might be fun to tat an altar cloth for the temple. At the time I thought I’d just get started and the Lord would know where it was when He needed it. Finally, after I’d mentioned it a few times, my husband directed me past the temple matron’s office, and we asked about measurements. I remember her comment very well, “We’ll see you in a couple years!” Wow! I didn’t know if I could do it that fast.”

This pattern is Ann’s second tatted altar cloth for the Boise Temple. See her finished tatted altar lace here. Tatting takes a long time.  Ann’s first tatted altar lace had over 500 motifs, and took over 600 hours over five years to make.

Ann says:

“I was about half way done with my first tatted altar lace when the temple sent word to our stake Relief Society that they needed altar cloths as soon as possible. I stopped working on the tatted one and made one out of crochet (which is much faster).

Over the years I had plenty of distractions with that first tatted altar cloth… a cruise, two returning missionaries, a wedding, a fiftieth wedding anniversary party, a huge calling in the church, and our temple closed for 1 ½ years. Finally, after five years, I made it back to the temple with the first tatted altar cloth.

I felt like I had nothing to do after finishing the first tatted altar cloth last April, so I got this pattern out, made some adjustments and started fresh. Tatted altar cloth number 2 is underway. Hopefully, it won’t take 5 years to finish it!

The lace I am making now is called “Snowflake.” I love this pattern because it really does look like snowflakes. The large motifs are 4 inches in diameter so I’ll only need to make about 77 of them. I like making both sizes of motifs and connecting them as I go rather than do all the small ones at the end because my hands are rather small. This pattern also has a couple nice sections where only a shuttle is used, and rings are formed on the inside and outside of the row. Since I started this lace five years ago I have learned how to jump from row to row without breaking the thread so I still only have to hide ends once per motif! This pattern had many picots that were what I call “empty,” meaning they weren’t connected to anything. I find that picots don’t hold their shape with repeated washings and I wouldn’t expect every single picot to be pinned out when it is blocked. So I altered the pattern so that all the picots inside the design are joining with other parts of the design. The only picots that are “empty” are around the edge. All the others are “occupied.”

This pattern is called “Snowflake Tablecloth” from Traditional Tatting Patterns, Edited by Rita Weiss, pg. 13″

–Ann

Another beautiful lace in progress!  Ann describes how she makes each motif:

The large motifs have five rows…meaning five places to tie off threads and five places to hand stitch the ends to hide them. I’ve been practicing my skills for jumping from one row to the next. All I have to do is wind enough thread on two shuttles and start in the middle. Then I do a split ring to move to the next row,
Beginning a new tatted motif

Beginning a new tatted motif

Ending the row with a split ring

Ending the row with a split ring

Ending the next row with a split chain

Ending the next row with a split chain

Starting the next row with a split ring

Starting the next row with a split ring

Coming to the end of the frilly row

Coming to the end of the frilly row

Last row

Last row– motif made!

 

Information on Temple Altar Cloth Guidelines

Altar Cloth Lace

Crochet Altar Cloth Lace– with repeating motifs.

If you would like to get a copy of the altar cloth guidelines, call your local temple.  The church has listed every temple’s contact information at www.lds.org/temples

Each temple is responsible for their own lace altar cloth collections.  If you would like to make an altar cloth, call your local temple and make an appointment to speak with the matron to find out what your temple’s altar cloth needs are.  She will be able to give you the instruction and guidelines you need for the sizes of altar cloths she needs.

If you have questions about how to create, block, whiten, or anything else regarding care for crochet lace, drop me a note, I’m happy to assist.  We have an amazing community of lacemakers in our LDS culture.  It’s a wonderful heritage I hope to see flourish for a good long time.

A note of encouragement:

Anyone can make lace.  It’s a skill more than a talent.  It just takes practice.  If you are working on a temple lace, send me a picture of your lace pattern!  I’d love to feature more LDS Lacemakers!

Boston: My First Altar Cloth Lace

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In August of 2000, my family and I lived in a little apartment in Boston, Massachusetts.  My husband was working for BBN (later Genuity), and we were two years into our east coast adventure.  My daughter, Anna was three at the time.

We were thrilled to be living in New England, it was so green, lush, and in every way, different than Utah, or even California where I was raised.  While we were there, we had the privilege of watching the building of the 100th temple of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, as it was built.

“The Boston Massachusetts Temple was the first temple built in New England, and it holds the distinction of being the 100th operating temple of the Church—fulfilling President Gordon B. Hinckley’s desire to have 100 temples in operation before the end of the year 2000.”  —LDS Temples

As part of the preparation for the dedication, I helped organize making little booties for the legs of each of the chairs for the dedication to keep the metal legs from damaging the new carpets of the temple. Because I was making little white chair booties, my name came up as a sister with crochet skills.

I was contacted by someone affiliated with the temple construction and dedication project, and asked if I would be willing to make a temple altar cloth for one of the sealing room altars. I was floored.  I had no idea such a thing could even be done by mere mortals like me.  I was flattered. They’d had a few sisters already volunteer, but they needed one more altar lace, and the catch was, they needed it fast.

I’d never made anything as ambitious as an altar cloth before.  I’d made a few doilies, and some lace edging, that was about it.  I’d made lots of scarves, hats, and potholders though, and I had a bit of a plucky attitude.  There wasn’t anything I didn’t think I could do, so I started.

“Do you think you can be done in one month?  We’d really like it to be in place for the dedication if possible.”

“One month?  Ok!  I’ll try.”  I had no idea what I was getting into.  At the time, I had one daughter, she was three, almost four, and we were just starting our adoption adventures, taking training and classes through LDS Family Services in Boston.  I had a lot of free time on my hands, and Anna was a good lace buddy.  She and I started our altar cloth, and together we watched each square as it grew.

Anna and our Boston Temple Lace

Anna and Our Gift to the Lord– The Boston Temple Altar Cloth Lace

This pattern is from 101 Motifs for Crochet by Rita Weiss.  The pattern is motif #101, the last in the book.

I didn’t end up finishing in a month, but luckily, the dedication date was put off a bit with the steeple controversy.  I was able to finish in time for the dedication, but just barely.  I ended up working on the Boston lace six hours a day, sometimes more.  I was new to lace-making still, so I made a lot of mistakes, and learned how to change, alter, and fix laces.

At one point, I was gazing admiringly at my growing lace, nearly thirty squares large, and realized that one square, was horribly, terribly wrong.  I don’t know what I’d been thinking but I skipped an entire row somewhere in the middle of the square.  I had to learn to remove a square, carefully, without damaging the rest of the lace.  Another time I realized that four of the squares were upside down– each in a different section of the lace.  Horror!  I know, but to an experienced lacemaker, it really is. We can tell these things.  I wanted my lace to be my best.  So I took those out too, flipped them over, and put them back.  Thankfully, I’d chosen a pretty straightforward pattern.

It was such an honor to be able to make something for the Lord.  I can honestly say that accepting this assignment inspired my love of temple laces, and truly changed my life in some important ways. I’ve never forgotten that experience, and the joy it brought me to bring something of my own, made with my own hands, loved with my own heart, to the house of the Lord.

My husband and I helped with the open house of the temple, walking the governor, senators, children, families, and dignitaries on beautiful silent tours through the house of the Lord.  Anyone who wanted to, could come and see the House of the Lord.  But, they couldn’t see the laces, and neither could I.  The laces were not displayed during the open house.  Laces are not placed on the altars until after a temple is dedicated.

Boston Altar Lace

Boston: My First Altar Cloth Lace

We moved to California the week of the temple dedication, so I have never had the pleasure of seeing my lace on the altar in the Boston Temple, but I know it is there, and that is joy enough to me.

An interesting note: at the time the Boston Temple was dedicated, it had no steeple.  There was a controversy with the neighbors, and a lawsuit blocked the completion of the steeple.  So, in some respects, my memory of the 100th temple of the Lord is consistent.  The steeple was built a while later, and we watched that from California too.  We didn’t know it then, but that steeple controversy ended up being one of the best things that happened to the church in the Boston area during the construction of the temple. It brought together people of all faiths, in support of a good cause. We made many friends across the spectrum of beliefs.  It was the Lord’s miracle, with a twist of humor.

As for us, though we never got the joy of seeing our lace on the altar, we had many other blessings come to us right at that crucial time.  My husband was able to get a great job, right before the company he worked for went under.  We felt strongly that we should go to California, and right as the lace was finished, we got an offer, and began moving.  The dot com bubble burst weeks after we arrived in California and all jobs in his field dried up for several years, yet we were spared that instability.  Best of all, though we didn’t know it at the time, our three little sons were looking for a family, waiting for us in California.

I am convinced our gift was seen, and recognized, and honored.  Our prayers were answered.  Some parts of our Boston Temple experience are just had in faith. Experience has taught me that there is no sacrifice you can make in the Lord’s service that is greater than the blessings you receive.

BostonTemple

The Boston Temple: image by Bob Wooley

Little Miracles: MJ Stegeby’s “Pond Lily” Altar Cloth Lace

This lace was made by a good friend of mine, MJ Stegeby.  She’d never made lace before, but knew how to crochet.  She and I decided we would make temple altar cloth laces together, our gift to the Lord.  I taught her what thread and hook to use, and she got started on hers while I looked for a pattern for mine.  Her pattern is from the Crocheter’s Treasure Chest, and it’s called “Pond Lily”.

Not long after she started her project, Mary Jo got a bad case of morning sickness. We were elated that she would be expecting, but the side effects were painful as she spent the next nine months fairly seriously under the weather. Still, in the quiet moments, she managed to work on her lace.

Things got harder for them. Her husband lost his job, and they were eventually forced to move to another state as life continued to hit her little family in a big way.

Pond Lily with border

Mary Jo Stegeby’s vintage altar cloth lace pattern: Pond Lily. Donated to the Los Angeles Temple, January 2014

When I renewed my lace efforts with the Los Angeles Temple, and realized what a need there was for new laces to fit their altars, I talked to all the lacemakers I knew in my family and extended family, and I talked to Mary Jo.

Mary Jo reminded me about the altar lace she’d started during those long months of struggle. So many things had gone unexpectedly wrong since then. Despite her best efforts, her gift to the Lord hadn’t gone quite as she’d planned. In addition, sometime in the chaos of moving, the pattern had been lost, and with it the string and the hook.  But, she said, she still had the lace.

She worried that her effort wouldn’t be very useful because it was so small, but we talked it over, and she decided she’d send me what she had. Even though she now lived out of state and had other temples she could send it to, places she could go to see her work on the altar, Mary Jo was firm. She wanted her lace to go in the Los Angeles Temple. She felt it belonged there.

We decided I would take her started lace and go from there, making additional motifs until it was big enough to be usable. I had a copy of her pattern, “Pond Lily” in my pattern collection, but I didn’t know if my stitch size would be different than hers. No two crocheters have the same tension. If my stitching was very different, any new motifs I made would not match. Given the situation, and the need the temple had, I decided to give it a try anyway.

When the lace arrived in the mail, it was beautiful,  very small, and definitely unfinished.  I measured it roughly and checked my list of altar sizes– I was amazed. Her “Pond Lily” lace appeared to be the right size for the smallest altar in the Los Angeles Temple, an altar that needed a piece of lace, badly.

The lace hadn’t been washed yet.  Washing shrinks the cotton thread by one inch in twenty.  It also hadn’t been blocked.  Blocking stretches the lace to make the holes uniform and gives the piece a finished, completed look, that holds its shape and allows the lace to drape nicely.

I began the process of preparing the lace for the altar, first shrinking, then blocking, hoping it would really fit. When it was done, I measured it again. The lace matched the altar to the inch in both directions– without a single additional motif.

I was so excited, I couldn’t wait to tell her about how perfect it was, and thank her. What a wonderful gift!  I edged the piece with a simple Irish edging to honor Mary Jo’s Scotch-Irish heritage, snapped a few pictures for her family, and brought her beautiful lace to the temple. Her gift to the Lord now sits on that delicate altar.

Little miracles.

"Pond Lily" lace: blocked with border

Little miracles. “Pond Lily” lace: blocked with border, just the right size.

Denver Temple Altar Cloth Lace

Lace for the Lord: Donated to the Denver Temple

Lace for the Lord: Handmade lace donated to the Denver Temple

I like to feature the laces of other LDS lacemakers.  This altar cloth lace was made by my mother-in-law, Mary Rockwood. It’s from a vintage pattern called “Grand Reception”.  These are the pictures she sent me of it just before she gave it to her temple in Denver, Colorado. It turned out beautifully.

Lace worked in size 20 thread from vintage pattern title:  Grand Reception

Altar Cloth Lace worked in size 20 thread from vintage pattern title: Grand Reception