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.

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.

Gold Gleams in the Ashes

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As I was working on my altar lace last night, I remembered this poem.  It’s such beautiful imagery.  I’ve been thinking about the examples we have been given by those who came before us and left us this legacy of faith.

Sister Vilate C. Raile penned these words regarding the pioneers:

They cut desire into short lengths
And fed it to the hungry fires of tribulation.
Long after when the fires had died,
Molten gold gleamed in the ashes.
They gathered it in bruised palms
And handed it to their children
And their children’s children forever.

On my bathroom wall, I have quotes of all kinds taped.  This is one of my favorites:

“May we do as much with the blessings we have been given as [our ancestors] did out of the deprivations so many of them faced. In such abundance may we never “forget the Lord.”” –Jeffrey R. Holland

Yesterday I watched Only a Stonecutter with my children.  I love John Rowe Moyle for his work on the Salt Lake Temple.  Lace, gold, stone– somehow, it’s all applicable.

Temple History: This Is The Right Place

I came across this today as part of the celebrations going on for Pioneer Day.  Not only does it show gorgeous footage of the Salt Lake Temple interior, but also some of the heart, detail, and craftsmanship that go into these temples.  The Salt Lake Temple pictured here took 40 years to build and finish.  This temple was the third temple the saints began.  Both previous temples had been burned and destroyed by people who were set on chasing the people from their towns and faith.  I can imagine the joy those saints felt as the angel Moroni was placed, and the beautiful Salt Lake Temple was finally completed.

A note of interest, one of my husband’s grandfathers, Albert Perry Rockwood, was in the wagon with Brigham Young on July 24, 1847, the day they first made it to the Salt Lake Valley. After so much suffering, death, and brutality the saints endured searching for a place to live together in peace, it was a great moment when Brigham Young saw the valley, recognized it, and declared “This is the right place”.

Pioneer day is celebrated as an official holiday in Utah, but is also celebrated in many surrounding states in honor of pioneers of all faiths who settled the West. Today marks 167 years since our pioneer forefathers came to Salt Lake.

Pioneer History from the Mormon Newsroom:

The 19th-century Mormon migration beginning in 1846 in Illinois, then through Iowa and Nebraska and eventually to a place of refuge in the Rocky Mountains, was one of the most remarkable episodes in the history of the United States’ great western migration. Unlike the thousands of pioneers streaming west to California and Oregon looking for a better life, the Mormon pioneers migrated involuntary — the result of expulsion from Illinois and Missouri by hostile neighbors. Later, the Mormon pioneer trail would be filled with converts coming from Europe.

With the assassination of Joseph Smith in 1844 and increasing pressure on the Mormons to abandon their city of Nauvoo on the banks of the Mississippi, it soon became obvious to Church leaders that they would need to move yet again. At first they established a refuge in what was called Winter Quarters, near present-day Omaha, Nebraska. Then in 1847, under the leadership of Brigham Young, the first wagon train headed west for the Rocky Mountains, its precise destination unknown.

As the first group of Mormon pioneers reached the Salt Lake Valley in the summer of 1847, Brigham Young looked out over what was then a barren, dry desert and declared, “This is the right place.”

In 1849, President Young established the Perpetual Emigration Fund to assist poor Latter-day Saint immigrants. The fund helped some 30,000 immigrants from the British Isles, Scandinavia, Switzerland, Germany and the Netherlands reach America — more than one-third of the total Latter-day Saint immigrants from Europe during that period.

To cut down on expensive wagons and oxen, some 3,000 of the pioneers subsequently used low-cost wooden handcarts that were light enough to be pulled across the Great Plains. One family or five individuals were assigned to a handcart, with 18 to 20 people sharing a tent. A cart hauled no more than 200 pounds — about 17 pounds of baggage per person.  Each highly organized company was led by an experienced guide and was accompanied by at least four oxen-drawn supply wagons.

The first party of handcarts set out from Iowa City, Iowa, on 9 June 1856 with a company of 266 people from England, followed two days later by a second company of just over 200.  These early handcart brigades successfully arrived in the Salt Lake Valley, but the trips were not easy. Pioneer journals recorded harsh weather, the threat of hostile Indians, the death of fellow travelers and the ongoing hardships of hunger and fatigue.

Tragedy struck in the fall of 1856 after the Willie and Martin handcart companies left late in the season with 1,000 people between them. Both companies were plagued by a lack of supplies and hardships, including an early snowstorm that turned into one of the worst storms of the century. The exhausted companies set up camp in deep snow on the Wyoming plains, where more than 200 people died from starvation and cold. A massive rescue effort was launched immediately when word of their plight reached Salt Lake City.

In all, whether they came by wagon or handcart, thousands of Mormon pioneers died on the trail. Loved ones including children were often buried in shallow graves that would never be visited again.

Under Brigham Young’s direction, an estimated 70,000 Latter-day Saints made the difficult journey to Utah from 1847 until the transcontinental railroad was completed in 1869. The collective experience of the pioneers has cut deep into Mormon self-identity. Pioneer ancestors who made the trek are honored and often spoken of not only in family gatherings of descendants but also in meetings of Church members, who see the pioneers’ example of courage and sacrifice as inspirational.

The full video that these clips were taken from is called “The Mountain of the Lord” and tells the full story of the building and sacrifice of the Salt Lake Temple:

My Loves. My Life.

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Faith, history, family and lace. I captured this shot today after nearly a month of lacelessness. I am finishing up a sample from my last altar cloth to remember the pattern. The Ebenezer Lace project had no written pattern, and I don’t want it to be lost. I’ll put it in a frame eventually with the story that goes with it for my children to read. The story is theirs.

Our family has been going through a growth spurt this last month with the addition of a son. He’s seven years old, and precious. His adoption will be finalized this fall, and we look forward to having him sealed to our family. This will make four adoptions and four sealings this fall if all goes well– three girls and a boy, to add to our existing three boys and a girl. Eight! And Carolyn. Nine.

This time has been nearly five years in the making. So many beautiful blessings.

We took this picture for Father’s day:IMG_469016526402605

Each spirit has a story. Each child is unique. Their paths to our family are all different, but each twist and turn is known to the Lord. How great a blessing! He has remembered his promises to us. My cup truly runneth o’er.

Time to get going on a new altar cloth.

Grandma Celinda’s Legacy of Lacemakers

Celinda Jane Twitchell Olson

Celinda Jane Twitchell Olson, lacemaker

I just wanted to put a note up about all the beautiful sisters who are contacting me with the desire to make altar lace.  It’s such a beautiful thing.  I love the letters!

I got an email from a sister two weeks ago who has a desire to make altar lace for her temple and came across this blog.  It turns out she and I share the same lace making gggrandma, Celinda Olson.  That makes her a cousin! 

In total, four of my grandma Celinda’s descendants are currently making lace for altars, including me.  It is such joy to find each other.  Lace ties us together.

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Grandma Olson’s lace

Lillie and Lily: Another Generation

A trip through history: Lily Adeline with great-grandma Lillie's original lace bonnet and gloves.

A trip through history: Lily Adeline with great-grandma Lillie’s original lace bonnet and gloves.

When a child joins our family by adoption, we have a tradition of holding “Name Changing Day”, and each child receives a name– a gift tied to our family history.  It is a milestone day that we look forward to with each child.  Our philosophy is even if we don’t share biology, we can share history, and that history helps tie our precious children to us.

Each child that has come to our family has a name that is meaningful to our family in some way or another.  My daughter Lily is named Lily Adeline, after my husband’s Great-grandma Lillie and my Great-grandma Ada, both wonderful role models, and women we look up to.

A few years ago we visited Grandma Rockwood’s house in Colorado, and learned more about our grandma Lillie.  While we were there, we saw the original lace bonnet made by Grandma Lillie.  We have a replica of it in our house, but Lily had never seen the original.

Mary taught me grandma Lillie’s roll stitch.  Lily and I sat together as Mary made each beautiful roll.  I was able to learn it, while Lily watched.  When she is ready, I will teach it to her.

Learning Grandma Lillie's Roll Stitch

Learning Grandma Lillie’s Roll Stitch

Lily wrote up her thoughts on her namesake and history here.

Grandma Lillie’s Heirloom Lace Bonnet

Reproduction of the bonnet Lillie Lang Robison made for her daughter, Birdie Isabella Robison Swasy, by her granddaughter, Mary Swasey Rockwood

Grandma Lillie’s Heirloom Roll Stitch Blessing Bonnet

This bonnet is a beautiful reproduction of the bonnet Grandma Lillie Lang Robison created for her daughter, Birdie Isabella Robison Swasey.  It was made by Birdie’s daughter, Mary Swasey Rockwood, who has the original lace bonnet.  The original bonnet is nearly 100 years old.  Mary has made many copies of this bonnet, one for each of her grandchildren to wear for their blessing day, and to keep to remember their heritage.

Lillie Lang Robison, who designed the original bonnet, was a talented lace maker.  She designed this bonnet without a pattern.  There are a few variations of it in the extended family, but this one is a favorite.

One of the most distinctive features of this pattern is the use of the roll stitch, also known as the bullion stitch.  Usually roll stitches and bullion stitches are short, but these are long.  The longer the roll, the harder it is to make. Pulling one loop through a long tube of loops takes patience and skill.

Mary studied grandma Lillie’s lace until she figured out how to reproduce the distinctive stitches.  The bent roll stitches, (they look like pill bugs), are made the same way as the straight ones.  Yarn over 18-20 times, hold it steady, and pull one loop through the roll of yarn overs.  It takes a special brand of hook to do it well. Mary uses only steel Boye hooks for her roll stitch patterns because they are straight enough to make the rolls without having one end graduate larger than the other.  She has been able to reproduce this stitch and pattern in even size 100 thread, the very smallest thread available.

Because of the heritage associated with these stitches, I often try to incorporate them into laces I design.  I love this pattern. It is beautiful.

Grandma Lillie's Lace Bonnet, detail side

Grandma Lillie’s Lace Bonnet, detail side

Grandma Lillie's Bonnet, roll stitch lace edge

Grandma Lillie’s Bonnet, roll stitch lace edge

Grandma Lillie's Lace Bonnet

Grandma Lillie’s Lace Bonnet

Manti Temple Irish Wedding Dress Lace

Handmade Irish lace wedding gown

Handmade Irish lace for wedding gown

This intricate piece of Irish lace is one I made for the front of a friend’s wedding gown. She was married in the beautiful Manti temple, and wanted a traditional Scotch-Irish theme for her reception.  All the men wore traditional kilts and her wedding dress was laced with bits of Ireland.

MJ Stegeby, and I worked this lace together. The back of the dress has clusters of Irish roses just above the train, Irish roses are in her hair, and the sleeves are sprinkled with roses, clones knots, and insert lace.

This was one of my favorite lace projects. A beautiful couple, with beautiful heritage, on a gorgeous day at the temple.

Manti Temple Irish Lace Wedding Dress

Manti Temple Irish Lace Wedding Dress

Constructing the Irish Lace:

Irish wedding lace under construction

Irish Wedding Lace– under construction

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Irish Wedding Dress- front bodice lace

The Irish lace was constructed in parts.  Each motif was made first, and then pinned to a sturdy surface, in this case a sheet of cardstock.  Then the netting with clones knot picots was added to fill in between the motifs.  This project took several months of patient labor, but the completed dress was worth it.