I love lace.
There is an art to lace with its beautiful repeat patterns that echo nature, and use symbolism, often to tell a story.
Remember those lace doilies and antimacassars your grandmother had around her home?
Hold it. You don’t know what an antimacassar is? No, it’s not about being against macassars – and that is not what it sounds like.
It was those bits of lace women would put on the arms and headrests of chairs to protect them and make them last longer. Back then men wore a lot of weird greasy stuff in their hair, because I guess they thought it was sexy for a woman to run her fingers through his hair and then use it to butter his bread. Antimacassars kept the back of the chair clean, although it did a rough job on that lace she so carefully made. On the arms it helped with the wear and tear of the fabric. Back then they didn’t change out their furniture every five years. There’s couches out there that have lasted like a hundred years, probably because they didn’t let their kids on it. So they weren’t like us, throwing everything out. Things were built to last, and even the doilies and anti-things did too.
People don’t use them anymore. Nor do they use real doilies either. Doilies just don’t fit into busy lives where we don’t even bother putting tea in teapots anymore. And even if you did use them you’ve got an instant reputation of being a fussy old cat lady, even if you’re not old and don’t own a cat. You might not even be a lady.
Doilies just aren’t in.
Or are they?
Actually, those beautiful doily patterns – and even if you don’t want doilies around your home you have to admit the patterns are beautiful – can be re-purposed
Shawls are huge right now. And they’re not just for fussy old cat ladies. Those old patterns make beautiful shawls. Shawls are fun to make too. One size fits all. Any yarn will do. And it’s a large area to play around with stitch combinations and colors. Shawl patterns are running amuck on ravelry and the rest of the internet, (isn’t that a fun word – amuck? It makes me think of that witch movie where Carol Kane jumps up and down saying “amuck, amuck, amuck”, and now both of us have forgotten what I’m writing about). Meanwhile, designers are getting inspiration from faraway lands famous for their shawls, such as Estonia and Ireland where entire families knitted exquisitely complex shawls while they cooked, cleaned, herded sheep, built barns, and shod horses. I don’t know how they did this. I keep looking for pictures of eight armed people but haven’t found them yet.
A shawl is the most important thing you can take on your travels besides toilet paper. Carry one in the bag that you take everywhere. It serves as a skirt at the beach, a sweater on a cool summer evening, a blanket for a nap, and a head covering for those times when you enter religious edifices that require women to cover their heads and shoulders. With a couple of knots it’s a market bag, or it can be a sun shade, or tuck it around your neck and under your coat for a scarf when it gets cold.
Shawls can be made from ethereal cobweb lace thread that fits through a wedding ring to great big bulky ropes of yarn. They make lovely gifts for the bride, or as reminder to the recipient that they are loved and you are thinking about them. You can incorporate hoods and pockets, and a few well-placed stitches will even make sleeves.
But lace isn’t limited to shawls and doilies and those anti things. Think curtains where you can let the light in but keep your privacy. Tablecloths – which are just great big doilies - table runners, bedspreads, gloves and trims can all be made using lace techniques.
Forget about coloring mandalas. You can actually make mandalas. Or try cable and lace patterns on a scarf. You can make tiny flowers and turn them into earrings, pins, necklaces and hair accessories that no one else will have and everyone will ask about.
So this week’s special is all about…arm knitting with great big bulky yarn.
No it’s not. I wouldn’t do that to you. Get you drooling all over lace and then do a switcheroo.
It is about lace weight yarn. Two specifically.
60% Rayon, 25% Nylon, 10% Wool, 5% Cashmere
Regular Price: $13.00
Sale Price: $3.25
I made a lace scarf with one ball of this yarn for the store which caused all the bright colors to leave us. However we do have one color left. Number 4 is a soft pink shading into greens and browns. Lori says it reminds her of a rose garden. Definitely more subdued than the in your face vibrant colors, but lovely all the same.
71% Wool, 29% Nylon
Regular Price: $16.00
Sale Price: $4.00
We have two colors of this one, and it comes with a free pattern that you can download from the internet.
And if you want to learn more about lace, there’s some sites on the internet. Piecework magazine, which I highly recommend for history buffs, often does great articles on lace making. Nancy Bush also has books on it, and there are tons of other books about lace. And by tons, I mean you could gather them up and they would weigh tons.
P.S. Not only can you make lace with crochet and knitting techniques, but we also carry tatting shuttles and a hairpin lace loom.
Posted by Anna Maria Junus – who thinks in her head she can accomplish a lot more lace making than she actually can – unless she lived several hundred years which would just add more lace patterns and yarns to her stash.