Karenne’s Heirloom Crochet Lace Dress

Several years ago I created this dress and patterns using French lace as a model.  It’s simple, but special.  Each of my daughters has worn it on their baptism day.  The lace work is all handmade using a variety of edging and insertion patterns.

The elements I borrowed from French lace are the pintucked front and edging, small ribbon accents in the pintucking, and the combining of lace patterns.  Any edging pattern can be added to an insertion pattern to create a more sophisticated look.  The thread size is 30.

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“Use Your Best, and You’ll Always Have Your Best Left”

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When I married, my mother-in-law made me a sheet set with beautiful handmade lace edgings and inserts across the sheets and pillowcases. We’ve been married 21 years, and this year, I had to finally concede that the lace wasn’t going to last another year.

For those who might say, “What? You USED real handmade lace pillowcases?” Yes they are heirlooms, and Yes. I did.

My mother-in-law told me her philosophy was given to her by her grandmother– “Use your best, and always have your best left!”  She didn’t put all those hours into them to just sit in a box waiting for a moth or age spot to mar them. She wanted them used! or she’d take them back and use them herself.

And she would too.

So, yes. I did.

And now they’re too far gone to use any more.  The thread wore out fairly evenly with few repairs over the years.  Once they decided to go, they really went.  There were little holes all through it.  I’ve saved a section of the best for posterity— but it’s not much.  However!  These beautiful lace gifts gave us 21 marvelous years of love and memories, and it was worth it.  I learned a lot from Mary about how to keep lace nice, and she’s right.  Use it or lose it.  Cotton wants to be used, and washed or it turns horribly yellow and loses its beauty.

Mary is currently making altar cloths, and loving it, so it’s my turn.  I had my husband choose a new pattern, and we’ll see how this one holds up for the next 20-odd years or so.

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Mary’s Linen Shelf– As new as if she’d made them all yesterday.

Lily’s First Lace

IMG_20150320_145850My 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! IMG_20150320_150330This 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's First Lace 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.

Roll Stitch Snowflake

Roll Stitch Snowflake

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.

Sweet Scalloped Edge Pattern

Sweet Scalloped Edge
This little scalloped edge is a simple classic, excellent for a beginner’s pattern.

There are three rows:

First row, chain stitch a length a few inches longer than the pillowcase you want to edge.
Ladder row
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.
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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.

Ebenezer Lace: Corner Re-design

Ebenezer Lace 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.IMG_20141022_092107

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.IMG_20141021_194252

Family Heritage: Janetta’s lace for the Payson Utah Temple

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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.
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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.

Ada and Moroni Almond on their 50th wedding anniversary.

Ada and Moroni Almond in front of the house Moroni built in Downy, Idaho in the 1930’s.  This picture was taken on their 50th wedding anniversary. 1951

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.”

Wild Indian Paintbrush

Wild Indian Paintbrush

“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.

Sunflower design, set on diagonal with handkerchief edging from a Japanese visual pattern by Ondori

Wildflower design, set on diagonal with handkerchief edging from a Japanese visual pattern by Ondori

Ondori Crochet Pattern Book

This is the Ondori pattern book we got this pattern from

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:

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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!
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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.

Families are Forever: In honor of Baby Elizabeth

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In November, 2011, my brother Shaun and his wife Katie were expecting a baby, their second.  We were all excited to see their little family growing.  Somewhere along the line something happened, and we got the news that Katie had gone into premature labor.  She was 21 weeks along when baby Elizabeth was born.  She was so small, she did not survive the birth.

Elizabeth’s birth caught all of us by surprise. Her passing was even more of a shock. My Carolyn had passed away just three years earlier. Elizabeth’s passing reminded me in so many ways of my own experiences not so long before. My heart went out to Katie especially. Though I don’t live near the rest of my family, I knew I had to do something to help.

I am one of ten brothers and sisters, and we are all close.  As soon as word got around about what was happening, everyone sprang into action, meals, babysitting, anything and everything that could be done was done.  Being isolated from everyone during this time was hard, but as I sat and pondered what I could do, I thought about my lace.  Elizabeth’s funeral was to be in just a few days.  I had less than a week.  What was needed? What could I do? How could I help?

California law at that time categorized children who died before 20 weeks as miscarriages, and after 20 weeks as stillborn.  Elizabeth was stillborn.  The state issued a death certificate, and added a bit of formality to this little life.  She was given a name and a blessing, but instead of preparing for her life,  we prepared for her funeral.

My eyes rested on a baby bonnet I’d made recently.  It was my second bonnet, and it was beautiful, but it turned out too small for any baby I knew.  As I looked at it, I thought of Elizabeth, and how she, being so young, was very, very small.  An idea began to form.

Troy’s mother was in town with me, and we came up with an idea.  I showed Mary the baby bonnet, she had the same thought I did.  It could be for Elizabeth.

I’d made blessing dresses and other things for larger, full term babies, but for this tiny preemie, I had no idea what size to make things.  I decided to just start, and as I did, ideas came.  My brother Shaun was making the tiny casket.  My mother and sister worked on the inside, lining it with some of my sister’s wedding dress material.  What would a baby that small wear for burial?  My mother supposed they’d just wrap her in a blanket.  She was so small, too small for anything else.  Most doll clothes were too bright and rough cut to be appropriate for such a special purpose.  There were resources online, but there was not enough time to order something.  Besides, we wanted it to be more personal than that.

We had a bonnet, and we wanted a dress to match. After some searching, we found a simple white slip for a doll dress we hoped would work.  I modified it with a large enclosure on the back and tailored the dress to the size described by one of my sisters who had seen Lizzie at birth– her head was the size of a woman’s closed fist, and her shoulders were smaller across than the width of her mother’s hand.  My heart ached visualizing that scene.  How could anyone be so tiny?

Everything we put together, we made adjustable for size. I’d never made baby clothes so delicate before, but the dress turned out beautifully. I added tiny thread crochet lace for the sleeves and collar to match the bonnet, and made the waist adjustable with a matching pink ribbon.

Mary and I cut two fingers from a child-size white knit glove, and edged them with lace for foot coverings.  Mary and I both worked on Lizzie’s blanket.  It was lacy, like an altar cloth, but with a pink flannel layer underneath to protect her delicate skin.  We threaded a pink ribbon through the bonnet edge to make it adjustable for Lizzie’s little head.

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Mary Jo Stegeby, another lacemaking friend of mine, came over and embroidered Elizabeth’s name and date on the corner of the blanket.  Mary Jo and I had both suffered the pain of childlessness, we knew loss, and how much the care of others meant to us when we went through those times.  This work had our hearts in it.

Everything was so small, and so beautiful.  Because of other issues, the lace we made wasn’t used in the actual burial, but my sister has it wrapped in a special box, as a keepsake of hers.  Elizabeth’s life was so short, and she came so unexpectedly, Katie has few things of hers to remember her by.  Our work was a gift she treasures and keeps, until they meet again–  a reminder of the promise that this baby is hers, loved, eternal, and death doesn’t last forever.

For Elizabeth’s graveside service, my mother wrote and sang this modified version of  “I Wonder When He Comes Again” by Mirla Greenwood Thayne.  She writes:

“When we were preparing for Katie’s and Shaun’s graveside service for baby Elizabeth, I looked and looked for a hymn or primary song that talked about the resurrection of little children.  There are none, except for one hymn on page 299 that came close, but the tune and words were very unsatisfying to me.  So Aunt Janetta suggested that I write a verse to use… which I did.  Its an add-on to verse one of “I Wonder When He Comes Again”.

These are the words to the second verse I wrote for Elizabeth.  We sang them at Elizabeth’s graveside:

I Wonder When He Comes Again– For Baby Elizabeth

I wonder when He come again, will herald angels sing?
Will earth be white with drifted snow, or will the world know spring?
I wonder if one star will shine far brighter than the rest.
Will daylight stay the whole night through?  Will songbirds leave their nests?
I’m sure he’ll call his little ones together round his knee,
Because he said in days gone by, “Suffer them to come to me.”

Our Heav’nly Father knows and sees, the smallest sparrow fall.
His plan is for our happiness; He loves and cares for all.
I know when Jesus comes again, the righteous dead he’ll raise.
With joyful voice the glorious throng will shout and sing his praise.
And children sleeping in the grave will rise to live and then
Will parents joyfully embrace their small ones once again.

—Last verse by Denisa Myrick (Elizabeth’s Grandmother)

Everyone has times of hard trial in their lives.  The Lord is good to each of us during these times.  Elizabeth’s life was short but there was beauty in it.  We all banded together and sorrowed together.  How wonderful it is to know, that as hard as these things are to travel through, this time doesn’t last forever. Until we meet again little Elizabeth.

Mary working the last square of the blanket lace.

Mary working the last square of the blanket lace.

Lizzie's Lace, almost done.

Lizzie’s Lace, almost done.

Lace for Elizabeth. 2011

Lace for Elizabeth. 2011

Jordan Anderson’s Daisy Lace for the Payson Utah Temple

Daisy Altar Lace

Sister Jordan Anderson, a new lacemaker from Payson, Utah,  just completed an altar lace for the Payson Temple to be dedicated soon.  She told me of her experience with her first altar lace:

“Just over a year and a half ago my Relief Society president announced the call for altar cloths for the new Payson Temple, which is just on the other side of our ward boundaries. I have a strong pioneer heritage on both sides of my family and many of them contributed to the work of building temples, so I jumped at the chance to make my own offering for the house of the Lord. Little did I know what a huge and wonderful undertaking it would be.

Before starting this altar cloth I had limited experience with crochet. I’d made a few hats and scarves, but that was it. The Relief Society President gave me a packet of seven approved patterns and I chose the one I thought was best suited to my abilities, the Daisy Lunch Cloth. Because I was so new at this endeavor it was essential that I follow the pattern exactly. There were times I thought I knew better than the pattern…but I didn’t. It wasn’t until I humbled myself enough to really study the instructions that I gained an understanding of how to be successful with each motif. I had a moment of inspiration and felt the Spirit reminding me that the scriptures and the words of the prophets are the pattern for our lives. Disregarding the pattern only brings frustration, especially as one who is learning and growing. Even more touching to me than that lesson was the renewed testimony of the Atonement. I made many, many mistakes in the process of completing the altar cloth. With every mistake I ripped out the work I’d done and changed my stitches to fix the problem. Now there is no evidence that those mistakes were ever made but there is a complete and flawless whole. The Savior does the same for us when we turn our mistakes over to Him for healing and grace. I did not expect my testimony to be strengthened by crocheting an altar cloth but I am grateful for the experience.

Work on the cloth has come and gone in spurts. For the past several weeks I have felt the fire under me to complete it. I have a baby on the way and I came to the realization that if I were to wait any longer I may not have to time to finish before the temple is dedicated. This past week I have both finished the cloth and come across many stories of my pioneer ancestors. As I finished work on the border I thought about so many in my family line, from pilgrims who came on the Mayflower to pioneers who crossed the plains, who dedicated their lives to the service of God. I’ve been blessed to feel their influence on the generations of my family down to my own children. I have two ancestors in particular, one from my father’s side and one from the line into which my mother’s father was adopted, who worked on the Nauvoo temple. The first, John Carling, did carvings on the doors and woodwork throughout the temple and the other, Peter Shirts, made the keys and locks for the doors. They knew full well they would abandon their beloved temple and their work would be lost to them, but they gave the best they had to give. As a tribute to them and as a gift to the Lord I can now give something that is the best of myself. I am still learning and my work is not perfect, but it is my very best and any mistakes I made have been removed. I’m so grateful to have had the opportunity to give my offering to the Lord and to give it with the confidence that I gave my all. It is amazing to me that what I have already received from the learning process is far greater than what I gave.”  –Sister Jordan Anderson, Payson, UT