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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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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Tatting Altar Lace: Ann’s Story

Ann's Tatted Altar Lace: a new work in progress

Ann’s “Snowflake” Tatted Altar Lace: a new work in progress

This beautiful tatted lace is from Ann, a lacemaker I featured about a month ago.  She has started another altar cloth lace.  This will be her third altar lace for the Boise Temple!  She’s made one tatted altar lace, one crocheted altar lace and is beginning her third altar lace.

Ann sent me this picture of it, and this story:

“Years ago I thought it might be fun to tat an altar cloth for the temple. At the time I thought I’d just get started and the Lord would know where it was when He needed it. Finally, after I’d mentioned it a few times, my husband directed me past the temple matron’s office, and we asked about measurements. I remember her comment very well, “We’ll see you in a couple years!” Wow! I didn’t know if I could do it that fast.”

This pattern is Ann’s second tatted altar cloth for the Boise Temple. See her finished tatted altar lace here. Tatting takes a long time.  Ann’s first tatted altar lace had over 500 motifs, and took over 600 hours over five years to make.

Ann says:

“I was about half way done with my first tatted altar lace when the temple sent word to our stake Relief Society that they needed altar cloths as soon as possible. I stopped working on the tatted one and made one out of crochet (which is much faster).

Over the years I had plenty of distractions with that first tatted altar cloth… a cruise, two returning missionaries, a wedding, a fiftieth wedding anniversary party, a huge calling in the church, and our temple closed for 1 ½ years. Finally, after five years, I made it back to the temple with the first tatted altar cloth.

I felt like I had nothing to do after finishing the first tatted altar cloth last April, so I got this pattern out, made some adjustments and started fresh. Tatted altar cloth number 2 is underway. Hopefully, it won’t take 5 years to finish it!

The lace I am making now is called “Snowflake.” I love this pattern because it really does look like snowflakes. The large motifs are 4 inches in diameter so I’ll only need to make about 77 of them. I like making both sizes of motifs and connecting them as I go rather than do all the small ones at the end because my hands are rather small. This pattern also has a couple nice sections where only a shuttle is used, and rings are formed on the inside and outside of the row. Since I started this lace five years ago I have learned how to jump from row to row without breaking the thread so I still only have to hide ends once per motif! This pattern had many picots that were what I call “empty,” meaning they weren’t connected to anything. I find that picots don’t hold their shape with repeated washings and I wouldn’t expect every single picot to be pinned out when it is blocked. So I altered the pattern so that all the picots inside the design are joining with other parts of the design. The only picots that are “empty” are around the edge. All the others are “occupied.”

This pattern is called “Snowflake Tablecloth” from Traditional Tatting Patterns, Edited by Rita Weiss, pg. 13″

–Ann

Another beautiful lace in progress!  Ann describes how she makes each motif:

The large motifs have five rows…meaning five places to tie off threads and five places to hand stitch the ends to hide them. I’ve been practicing my skills for jumping from one row to the next. All I have to do is wind enough thread on two shuttles and start in the middle. Then I do a split ring to move to the next row,
Beginning a new tatted motif

Beginning a new tatted motif

Ending the row with a split ring

Ending the row with a split ring

Ending the next row with a split chain

Ending the next row with a split chain

Starting the next row with a split ring

Starting the next row with a split ring

Coming to the end of the frilly row

Coming to the end of the frilly row

Last row

Last row– motif made!

 

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.