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

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.

Making Irish Crochet Lace

This is my first piece of Irish crochet lace. Irish lace is more free form than rigid in pattern. I had no idea when I started how fun it would be.  It’s also a little intimidating, because there are no instructions except in pieces.

The Irish people made their motifs from the things they saw around them from their windows and cottage yards and hills.  Leaves, thistles, roses, clover, briars.  The various motifs, thrown together and wrapped in picot lace, ARE Ireland.  Many of my ancestors were Irish, so I’ve always had a fascination with Irish lace.  I was determined to give this one a try.

The middle of the lace was made in pieces, with roses and a center, and then each motif was enveloped in stitching afterward.

Constructing Irish lace by sections

Constructing Irish lace by sections

Each flower was made first, and pinned to a section of paper in the shape of the finished lace. Filler stitches are then attached with picots and mesh to fill in all the areas between the roses until the circle form is complete.

The lacy center is complete, now for the borders

The lacy center is complete, now for the borders

There are several traditional borders that can be added to a lacy center to fill out the piece. This was a great project to learn on.  I love Irish roses, and have used several types of roses and other Irish motifs  in other projects, but this was my first complete Irish crochet lace.

Irish lace doily with roses, clones knots and traditional edging

Irish lace doily with roses, clones knots and traditional edging

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.

Tatting vs. Crochet

Tatting shuttles on tatted lace.

Old Wooden Tatting Shuttles on Tatted Lace.

Tatting is very different from crochet in terms of how the laces are made. Both can be used to make temple altar cloths, so what is the difference?  Tatting and crochet lace can sometimes look similar, partly because crochet lace can so easily mimic other laces.  There are differences though.

The first difference is the tools used. In tatting, we use tatting shuttles, like these gorgeous wooden ones I saw once in a tatted lacemaker’s shuttle collection.  Crochet is actually named after the French word for “hook”, which is “crochet”. In crochet lace making, we use delicate steel hooks like these:

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Steel Lace Crochet Hooks

Between tatted and crochet laces, can you tell the difference? It’s tricky because crochet mimics so many different types of lace. There are bobbin laces, hardanger, reticella lace, needlepoint lace…. lots of old fashioned laces to mimic. Crochet mimics them all, and does it well because the mimicry can be done in a fraction of the time that the older style laces could be made. Less time to create meant more could be made, and time is money.  In those old days where lace was so closely tied to social status, lace was a big deal, and a large part of the European culture.  Irish crochet was the one instance I know of where crochet was sought after for its own beauty rather than speed. Speed and versatility are some of the main reasons crochet is still around, and the other laces faded first. The secret to the speed, is in the hook.

The second difference between tatting and crochet is how the thread is wound, looped and knotted.  Tatting is made with the shuttle passing in, out and around a loop of thread wound around your hand to tie a simple set of knots.  Those knots are then arranged in marvelous ways, with picots and a few other variations, but in general, strings, loops and picots are what tatting is known for.  Crochet is a series of loops pulled through other loops in a variety of ways. Crochet can look like cloth, or like lace, and everything in between because there are more ways to connect the threads than just picot connections.

You can see the difference between tatted laces and crochet laces if you study pictures of the types of lace.  You’ll soon see that tatted lace has a fairly uniform look, and crochet varies widely.

Lace Thread and Crochet Lace Edging

Tatting and crochet laces use the same thread sizes, and that makes them similar.  They also have similar designs with various styles of loops and picots, some look the same, but some look very different from each other.

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Crochet Lace Edgings

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Tatted Lace Edgings

In tatting, there are rarely any straight lines, everything is made of rows of curved stitches and picots.  Picots are those little loops that make it so frilly.  In french, tatting is called frivolete, for that reason.  People LOVE tatting because it is so frilly and delicate.

Crochet can’t replicate tatting precisely, but as a lace maker and designer, I use tatting principles in the designs I make, because they are so appealing.  I know my eye loves those picots, so I add them wherever possible, and covered chains are more appealing than uncovered ones.

There are many kinds of picots in crochet, especially Irish crochet.  People LOVE Irish crochet partly because of the picots.  There’s something about a picot that is appealing.  I don’t know what it is, but I’m smitten with it too.  They remind me of baby’s breath.

My favorite picot is very different from a tatted picot, it’s called a clones knot.  In this piece, you can see both crochet picots, and clones knots.  The clones knot looks like a little ball, where a picot is more like a frilly bump.

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Irish Crochet Lace with Clones Knots and Picots

Both types of lace can be plain, or intricate, depending on the design. The art of lace making is in the design. The rest is skill, but an eye for beauty transforms a useful skill into an art.

Boise Temple: Tatted Lace Altar Cloth by Ann

Tatted Lace for the Lord, donated to the Boise Temple, with love, April 2014

Tatted Lace for the Lord, donated to the Boise Temple, with love, April 2014

I came across a sister who tats lace altar cloths. Many people ask me if what I do is tatting because my thread is fine, and crochet thread is often yarn weight. My lace is almost all crochet, but there are sisters who still tat altar cloths for the Lord.

This is a photo of her tatted altar lace. I’m so excited to find someone who tats temple lace. This altar cloth lace was made by Ann and is beautiful.  This is a mind boggling amount of work.  She writes:

It all started when I was 13 years old. I had appendicitis and while I was in the hospital I shared a room with an older lady. She was tatting almost constantly and I liked the look of it. I was so intrigued that I decided I wanted to learn to tat someday.

Three years later (while I was 16) it was 1980 and we were celebrating the sesquicentennial of the organization of the church. The young women’s leaders in my ward decided that they wanted us girls to learn something new as part of that celebration year. I told them I wanted to learn tatting.

So, they found an older sister in the ward named Ruby who knew how to tat. Three of us went to Ruby’s house to learn. I tied knots for about 30 minutes and then it clicked, and I was tatting. I started out with simple projects such as bookmarkers, and enjoyed the time I spent visiting Ruby and developing a friendship with her. I still have a pansy doily she crocheted. It has always been on display somewhere in my house since the day she gave it to me.

After about nine years, my sister asked if I could tat a baby bonnet. She picked the pattern, and I gave it a try. Up to that point I had never done anything that big. I ended up making a bonnet and matching set of booties, and the rest is history. So far I have made numerous Christmas tree ornaments and bookmarks, about 10 bonnets and a number of doilies. I am currently working on an altar cloth for the Boise Idaho Temple.

Many years ago, it used to be the case in the Denver Temple, that they would only accept tatted altar lace.  Lacemakers who tat have become so rare that they now accept crochet altar cloths also.  The standard is the best.  Whatever we can give, that is the best we can give, that is what is asked of us.  I love the history.

My favorite Ann quote:

The thing about tatting is that it is almost a lost art. Few people know how to do it anymore, but it is so delicate and beautiful. I’ve also learned that you can’t get enough money to make it worth the work. So, I never sell my tatting. I only give it away.

Ann has posted pictures of the construction of this lace also, so you can see how a tatted lace is put together. This one was made in size 30 thread, and now sits in the Boise, Idaho Temple.  What a gift.

Anne's tatted altar cloth lace

Tatted Altar Cloth by Ann, detail

“This altar lace has 527 larger motifs and 64 smaller ones around the edge. The large motifs took up to one hour each to make. The smaller ones took about 15 minutes each. All of them (591) had to have the ends whip stitched to hide them. All in all, I would guess I spent over 600 hours on it. The motifs line up in diagonal lines across the altar which creates an optical illusion with the angles of the altar. The motifs themselves move in and out in a way that I find very pleasing.

I often look at the lace in the temple and try to follow the lines and figure out how it is made. These motifs started on the outside edge and moved in to the center, then back out and back in until it was done. It helped that I only needed to tie off the ends once per motif, too!”  –Ann

The Price is Worth It.

Family at the Los Angeles Temple

Family in bronze at the Los Angeles Temple

I took this picture today just before I went home. I have always loved this statue of a family at the Los Angeles Temple. It is a beautiful, timeless reminder of what it’s all about.

A Thought on the Work and Effort of the Lord’s Lace and His House:

When I was working with our temple matron a few weeks ago, she paused right in the middle of the laundry area– we were up to our eyeballs in lace, pins and measuring tape, all the washing machines were humming and six other ladies were working on the various stages of cleaning, steaming and pressing, categorizing and folding everything that needed to be cleaned down in the laundry.

In addition to all the baptistry laundering, and endowment laundry, they’d just had a wedding party come through the weekend before with 72 guests.  At the last minute, the bride decided she wanted her ceremony to be all white, so everyone rented the clothes and things they needed for the ceremony, creating quite a bustle for the laundry for several days afterward.  Every bit of everything that has to be done to have that happen, has to be done anew, and perfectly.

In the midst of all the bustle and hum, she paused and said, looking around:

 “All this effort.  All this work.  The Lord asks us to do all of this, with such precision, all day, every day, so His people can have the place he deigns right for His  children to obtain His knowledge.  I marvel at how blessed we are, and I can’t forget the strength of the saints in Nauvoo, laboring to finish their temple, with every detail, knowing they would be forced to leave it.  Or the saints in so many ages who worked in faith their whole lives, and still did not have the blessing of the temple.  We are so blessed.  Somehow all this is a part of it.  This is necessary work.  It is required of us, I don’t know why it is that way, but it is.  Is there a price too high to pay?  No.”

Two of the women she introduced to me there had been working in the temple laundry for more than 35 years.  Every day.  As we examined each altar lace, we noticed some were marked on the back with handwritten tags telling the name of the person who had made each of the older laces, and which altars that lace used to fit.  We noticed that some of the tags had E-1,2 written on them, or Endowment room one and two, which was perplexing because endowment rooms one and two do not have altars.  Martha, the woman in the laundry who had been there the longest (39 years) explained that there was a time when there were altars in those two rooms.

Most of the women whose names are on the laces are gone now. So much history and sacrifice there.

As I was thinking about my experiences working on this project, I remembered the quote by Thomas Paine:

“What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly; it is dearness only that gives every thing its value.  Heaven knows how to put a proper price upon its goods.”

In the original text he was speaking of the price of freedom, which for them, was steep.  Part of the price his generation paid, and many generations before him paid, enabled us to have our temple.

If knowledge is freedom, and it is, I suppose that is what the temple is about also.  Mortality seems to have this struggle as a theme, and the culminating fruits of that struggle are there, in those walls.  It is amazing what we are tempted to take for granted.  I suppose that is the reason for the work, to give us an inkling of the price and the value of what is there for us to become.

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!

Birds in Flight: Lacy Three Pointed Motif

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I had some time this afternoon so I modified the motif pattern from my previous design. I opened it up a little more so it is less dense. I like the balance between closed and open areas better, you can see what is going on in the lace.

A good visual design gives your eye a path to travel, and the lace begins to tell a story.

In old lace traditions, the lacemakers would use their skills as an art form, taking elements of their lives and experiences and working them into their laces. This next altar cloth lace has a story to tell. It’s a good one, and I want to get it right.

 

Six Pointed Lace Motif

I’m experimenting with lace design. This original creation is my newest try. I’m looking for a good design for my next altar cloth project.

Altar cloth patterns need to be close woven designs so buttons don’t snag on them, but they still want them open enough to be lacy and beautiful. It is a constant tug of war between beauty and durability.

So far, I like it. I don’t know if it’s the one though.

This six pointed lace motif was worked in size 20 thread. Not bad for a Sunday afternoon.

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