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

Janetta's hands
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.

Birds in Flight: From Chicken Scratch to Fruition

ImageI’ve been working on this design for several weeks now. I am really pleased with it. I’ve just had the design cleared to be used for an altar cloth in the Los Angeles temple. Progress!

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.

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

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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