“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.

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From the Treasure Box: My First Lace

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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.IMG_20140817_174312631_HDRLater, 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.

Two Temple Handkerchiefs

Side by side– my first size 10 thread crochet edged thick cotton handkerchief on the left. On the right is a size 80 thread tatted lace edged delicate linen handkerchief. Both beautiful.

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Grandma Lillie’s Star Lace Edging (Pattern)

Grandma Lillie's Star Lace

Grandma Lillie’s Star Lace

Grandma Lillie’s Star Lace Edging Pattern for Crochet

Ch 70

Row 1:  dc in 4th ch from hook, 3 dc in same ch, ch 8, skip next 8 ch, sc  in next 5 ch, ch 8, skip next 8 ch, dc in next 4 ch, ch 8, skip next 8 ch, sc in next 5 ch, ch 8, skip next 8 ch, dc in next 4 ch,* ch 2. Skip 2 ch , dc in next ch, *  repeat from* to* 4 times to last ch.

Row 2: Turn, ch 5(ch 5 counts as 1st dc and 2 ch threw out design), dc in next dc, ch 2, dc in next dc, ch 2, dc in next dc, ch 2, dc in next dc , 2 dc in ch-2 space, dc in next dc,   ch 3 ,* dc in last dc of dc-4,  3 dc in ch-8 space, ch 7, skip first sc and sc in next 3 sc,  ch 7,  3dc in next ch-8 space, dc in next dc, ch 3 * Repeat one more time from * to*, dc in next dc, 3 dc in ch-3 space.

Row 3: Turn, Ch 4,  4 dc in top of 1st dc, *ch 3, trc in ch-3 space, ch 3, dc in last dc of 4-dc,3 dc in ch-7 space,  ch 5, skip 1st sc, sc in next sc, ch 5, 3 dc in ch-7 space, dc in first of 4-dc, * repeat from * to * ch 3, trc in ch-3 space, ch 3, dc in last dc of 4-dc, 2dc in ch-2 space, dc in next dc, ch 2, dc in next dc, ch 2, dc in next dc, ch 2, dc in 3rd ch in ch-5.

Star Lace Edging, detail

Star Lace Edging, detail

Row 4: Turn, Ch 5, dc in next dc, ch 2, dc in next dc, 2 dc in ch-2 space, dc in next dc, *ch 6, sc in ch-3 space, sc in trc, sc in next ch-3 space,  ch 6, dc in last dc of 4-dc,  3dc in next ch-5 space, ch 2, trc in sc, ch 2, 3 dc in next ch-5 space, dc in first dc of 4-dc, repeatfrom  * one time,  ch 6, sc in ch-3 space, sc in trc, scc in next ch-3 space, ch 6, 4 dc in ch-3 space.

Row 5: Turn, Ch 4,  4 dc in top of 1st dc, * ch 8, sc in ch-6 space,  sc in next 3 sc, sc in next ch-6 space, ch 8, ** 2 dc in ch-2 space, 2 dc in next ch-2 space, * Repeat once from * to * repeat again  from * to **, dc in last dc of 4-dc, 2 dc in ch-2 space, dc in next dc, ch2,  dc in 3rd ch in ch-5.

Row 6: Turn, Ch 5,  dc in top of 1st dc, ch 2, skip next 2 dc, dc in next dc  * 3 dc in ch-8 space, ch 6, skip  sc, sc in next 3 sc, ch 6 , 3 dc in ch-8 space, dc in top of next dc, ch 3, dc in last of 4-dc*  Repeat 2 more times. Ch 3.

Row 7: Turn * 1 dc in top of 4th dc of 4-dc, 3 dc in ch-6 space, ch 5, skip sc, sc in next sc ,ch 5, 3 dc in ch-6 space, 1 dc in next dc,**ch 3, 1 trc in sc , ch 3,*  Repeat from * to * 1 more time, then repeat from * to ** ch 2, dc in last dc of 4-dc , ch 2, dc in top next dc, ch 2, dc in 3rd ch of ch-5.

Row 8: Turn, ch 5, dc in top of next dc , ch 2, dc in next dc, ch 2, dc in next dc of 4 dc, ch2,skip next 2 dc, dc  in next dc of 4-dc,* 3 dc in ch-5 space, Ch 2, 1 trc in sc, ch 2, 3 dc in ch-5 space,1 dc in next dc, ** ch 6, sc in ch-3 space, 1 sc in trc, 1 sc in ch-3 space, ch 6, dc in last dc of 4-dc*, Repeat from *to* once .  Repeat from * to **.

Row 9: Turn, ch 3, *2 dc in ch-2 space, 2dc in next ch-2 space, ch 8, 1 sc in ch-6 space, 3sc in next sc, sc in next ch-6 space,  ch 8*  Repeat  from * to * one more time, 2 dc in ch-2 space, 2dc in next ch-2 space, ch 2,skip 2 dc, dc in next dc of 4-dc, ch2, dc in next dc 3times, ch 2, dc in 3rd ch in ch-5.

Repeat starting with Row2:  through Row 9: until it is long enough.    Shrinkage is usually 1 inch for every 20 inches.  So make it  an inch longer for every 20 inches of finished product. If making a pillow case, connect on row 8 to the other end. I used a 60 wt thread and # 12 crochet needle.

Lillie's pillowcase lace pattern on a sheet set --by Mary Rockwood

Lillie’s Star Lace Pattern on a sheet set –made by her granddaughter, Mary Rockwood

Brothers and Sisters Forever: Handkerchief Lace for Sealing Day

Crochet lace edged handkerchief, made by Anna's Grandma Mary Rockwood

Special Day: A crochet lace edged handkerchief, made by Anna’s grandma, Mary Rockwood

When my three sons were sealed to us in the Sacramento Temple following their adoption, I made them each a white tie from the material I’d saved from making my wedding dress years before.

Each tie had their initials stitched into the back, with the date of their sealing, for them to keep as keepsakes of that day.  Anna was also to be at the sealing, so I made a flowing white dress for her to wear inside the temple.  This was a day she’d waited for.  She’d longed for brothers and sisters for a long time. The day was finally here, and she wasn’t about to miss it.

My mother-in-law, Mary, wanted to make something for each of our children as well.  She made beautiful white vests for each of the boys, but for Anna she made something more appropriate for a little granddaughter.

This beautiful handmade crochet lace temple handkerchief was given to Anna by her grandma Mary, to honor her special day in the temple with her brothers, sealed together forever, as part of one family.

Such a beautiful day.

Sealing day at the Sacramento Temple

Sealing day at the Sacramento Temple

Anna, Gabrien, Daylin and Ethan, brothers and sisters forever

Angels from Heaven: Anna Celinda, Gabrien Dean, Daylin Michael and Ethan Nathaniel Rockwood, brothers and sisters forever

Lacy Edged Temple Handkerchief

Lacy Edged Temple Handkerchief

Lacy Edged Temple Handkerchief

“A portion of your soul has been entwined with mine.  A gentle kind of togetherness, while separate we stand.  As two trees deeply rooted in separate plots of ground, while their topmost branches come together, forming a miracle of lace against the heavens.”  –Janet Miles

This temple handkerchief was made for me by my husband’s mother shortly after we were married. It was made from a pattern designed by her Aunt Hannah. It is one of my treasures, and was with me for at least one temple dedication. Family, faith and beauty. There is a lot of history woven into each stitch of that beautiful edge.

Blessing Dress: Snowflake Edging and Cluny Insertion

Lace for Grace: Edging

Blessing Dress for Grace: Snowflake edging with extended header

This blessing dress was made for my niece, Grace. It’s an straightforward intermediate pattern, but dressed up with a few pintucks, ribbon, and an insert, the lace becomes a very fancy heirloom. The lace edging is called “Snowflake Edging”. I extended the length of the lace with a matching header across the top of the lace to make it extra dressy, and to include some of the cluny clusters so the insert would match the edging.  I really like the effect.

Lace for Grace: Blessing Dress Border

Lace for Grace: Blessing Dress Border

The insert adds a row of pretty detail.  This insert pattern is from an old pattern from the early 1900’s called “Cluny Insertion” from the Priscilla Crochet Book, Edgings and Insertions No. 2. It’s not a difficult pattern, but has a unique, old fashioned look I like.

My grandmother made lace with only a handful of patterns, but she created endless variations of those patterns.  I like that about her laces.  This was the first lace I modified from the original pattern.  Modifying a pattern makes it uniquely your own, and transforms a skill into an art.

Pillow Edging for Practice

 

For my daughter’s birthday I made this lace pillow edge with roses.  It was a pretty simple project, and she treasures it. When you are getting used to smaller thread, a simple project like this is good practice, and worth the time for a daughter or granddaughter who will treasure the result.

Anna's Pillow Lace

Little Daisies Pillow Lace Edging With Roses