This lace was made by my Mother-in-law, Mary Rockwood, using a pattern I designed with Linnaea Borealis blossoms in the center. She made this altar lace for the Denver Temple in Colorado. It was completed a few months ago and is now in use there. It is a unique pattern, only two exist, hers and mine. Sister laces.
There are few things as rewarding as sheer creation. It must be human nature, the bit of God in embryo in all of us.
This one is for my children. They all are. Each lace tells a story. “Birds in Flight” is the next chapter in the story of our lives and our walk with the Lord. So much heartache brought each of our children to us. Each of them is learning to fly. Free. Safe. It is joy to me. So many miracles.
Today my children went to the Los Angeles Temple with their youth group. What a blessing this place is to my family. It is truly an oasis from the world; a place where heaven touches the earth– a holy place.
I got a letter from the wife of the artist who painted this painting. She told me a little of its history:
“One of the main reasons Kendall choose this temple to paint was because it was the temple that two of our daughters, who lived in California, attended. We had come to California to help one of our daughters with her new baby.
On a beautiful summer evening in August, while we were there, Kendall and I went to the Los Angeles temple to get references for this painting. We had never been as close to the Los Angeles temple as we were that evening. It was a delightful surprise to see the pool with flowers all around it and the special doors. The temple felt so apart from the world even though it was in the midst of it.
Kendall spent over a year painting this painting, putting in the feelings, and spirit he felt that night. He painted it so you could feel like you are right there in front of it, that you can walk right into it, and able to feel the warm welcome invitation from the Lord saying “Come Unto Me”. He painted the words on the front of the temple so they can be read and the doors so they feel like they can be entered in.
He named it “A More Excellent Hope”
“And I also remember that thou has said that thou has prepared a house for man, yea, even among the mansions of thy Father, in which man might have a more excellent hope; wherefore man must hope, or he cannot receive an inheritance in the place which thou hast prepared. Ether12:32 But reverence as holy, the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh of the hope that is in you with meekness and reverence.” 1 Peter 3:15
The detail on this painting is amazing. It can be made panoramic mural size, and still retains the detail. I love the close-up of the doors:
I’ve walked through these doors hundreds of times. Such a beautiful design in that ironwork, with so much meaning and imagery. It’s captured just right. I love to paint also, but this kind of detail is beyond my skill. A talent and a mission… the best kind of combination.
Recently, I saw some gorgeous pictures of our temples taken by photographer Robert A. Boyd. I love his style. It’s simply beautiful. This snowy scene is from the grounds of the Salt Lake Temple in Salt Lake City, Utah. This is the temple where my husband and I were married and sealed for time and all eternity, so it has a lot of significance for me.
If you look closely, you can see an angel in gold on the tip of the tallest spire. Each temple is a place where heaven touches earth, and nearly all of them are topped with a statue of an angel in gold leaf, blowing a trumpet as an invitation to the world:
“The angel Moroni stand[s] atop the temple as a shining symbol of [our] faith. In a degenerate society, he remained pure and true. He is my hero. He stood alone. He stands today, beckoning us to have courage, to remember who we are, to ‘arise and shine forth,’ to [live] above the worldly clamor and to, as Isaiah prophesied, ‘Come to the mountain of the Lord’—the holy temple.” –Elaine S. Dalton
I saw a clip go by on one of my news feeds that the church recently put out detailing just how the temples are built, designed and why. I love it! How are temples built? So interesting. I watched it all the way to the end. Twice. Each temple is so unique, and beautiful, with such history!
I decided to look up some of the history on my own Los Angeles Temple. History is never a bad project.
Did you know the angel Moroni that tops Los Angeles Temple is wearing Mayan garb? He was designed specifically for the Los Angeles Temple by Millard F. Malin:
“In 1951, Malin was commissioned by the Church to sculpt the statue of the Angel Moroni for the new Los Angeles Temple. The model he designed is a more masculine figure than the Dallin statue on the Salt Lake Temple, and was heavily influenced, Malin said, by the drawings of Arnold Friberg – certainly the angel’s broad chest, muscular arms, and vaguely Aztec clothing is reminiscent of the familiar Friberg style. Torlief S. Knaphus, who sculpted his own Angel Moroni for the Cumorah monument, and artists Maurice Brooks and Elbert Porter also assisted Malin in designing and constructing the clay model.
When it came time to prepare the full 15′ 5-1/2″ statue of gilded cast aluminum, Malin constructed a temporary studio on the grounds of a concrete plant in Salt Lake City. There he erected a 1,500-pound steel armature to support the pliable material out of which he would sculpt the full-size model. A full two tons of the modeling compound Plastilina was required for the heroic-sized figure.” —The Angel Moroni’s Secret
And I came across this gem, also from the building of the Los Angeles Temple:
A fifteen-and-one-half-foot statue of Moroni was sculpted by Millard F. Malin and cast in aluminum in New York. In October 1954, the one-ton figure, coated with twenty-threecarat gold, was hoisted to the roof and placed on the tower. At first the angel faced southeast toward the front of the temple. But soon afterwards, at the request of President McKay, it was turned to face east as a symbol of watching for Christ’s Second Coming.
The story was told of a neighbor who lived east of the temple and who was asked if she had visited the temple grounds. She replied, “No, I’m waiting until the angel turns around and faces me.” She later said, “Imagine my surprise when I woke up one morning and discovered that the angel was looking right down my street.” —BYU Archives
I love the stories! You can’t help but fall in love with these houses of the Lord.
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.
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!
You know it’s going to be a good day at the temple when there’s a line of twenty people trying to get in for the first session at O dark thirty in the morning. Who knew the 5:30 session was so popular? I love this place. I took this picture from the rose garden out front before I went home. The buds are just beginning to bloom. I couldn’t resist.
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.
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.
The Ebenezer project. It’s probably the most complicated, and the most beautiful lace I’ve ever made. It also has a lot of meaning to me. The four blossoms in the center of each motif are for my children, and the path that brought them to me.
The blossoms are Linnaea Borealis (twinflower) blossoms, named by Carl Linnaeus. They are tiny white and pink ground flowers that grow in alpine areas. Carl Linnaeus often had his portrait painted with a sprig of Linnaea Borealis somewhere in the painting. It is a symbol of humility because of the quiet unassuming way it grows along the ground. As I designed this lace for the Los Angeles Temple, I thought a lot about my life, and the blessings I’ve had. This lace symbolizes those blessings, and the path that got me through some of the hardest things of my life.
It is my second altar cloth for the Los Angeles temple, but the first that I designed myself, based loosely on a vintage pattern called “Valentine”. It took me four months to complete, working sometimes 8 hours a day. It’s truly a labor of love, and a gift from me to the Lord.