Saturday, February 5, 2011

Hand-made Lace

There is something about hand-made lace that inspires awe in me.  The thought of someone spending hours upon hours making tiny stitches in intricate patterns is beyond my comprehension.  Yet, in my grandmother's time, many people made hand-made lace as a way to be creative and dress up the family linens.  These ultra-fine laces were also given as gifts.  Lucky person.

Lucky me too.  My hand-made lace has a little story that goes with it.   A very old woman made this hand-knitted lace on something tiny.  You couldn't have knitted it on a toothpick, but maybe a needle.  She used the lace to decorate a set of pillow cases that she had embroidered in light pastel colors.  She gave it as a gift to my mother.

My mother didn't care for it.  She didn't like knitted lace.  She thought the embroidery too pale.  She tucked it away in her linen closet with countless other gifts she was saving "for something special."

One day I confronted her about saving everything nice for some unknown special occasion.  Mom, I told her, my brothers and I give you nice things for every occasion and you put them here in this closet for later.  How do you think we're going to feel when you die and we come to clean up your house and there are all the gifts we gave you in this closet still unused?  She started to say something, but didn't.

Then came the day that I went to clean up her house after the funeral.  I looked at the linen cupboard and sighed.  Time to give back all the gifts to the giver.  Not to be.  Every gift from her children had been used or given away.  She'd taken care of that.  However, I found the pillowcases with the knitted lace still brand new in the closet.

I treasure that pillow case even as I remember my frustration of her not using this gift.  Someone had spent so much time making it for her and she let it lie in the cupboard unused.  Well, I couldn't make her do what she didn't want to do.  She truly had wanted to save it for a special occasion.  Now it was a special occasion for me.

I took the pillowcases home with me, washed them and put them on my bed.  When I notice the beautiful lace I think of the woman who made it and of my mother who had saved it.

I've worn out the first set of pillowcases.  Before I threw the worn fabric away I cut off the knitted lace and sewed it to a new pair of cases.  I'm afraid I didn't do it skilfully, but that's modern life for you.  No time to do things right.  I still think of both women every time I straighten the bed and see the lace there.


PS.  Hello to Eric.  I hope you find this page.


  1. I LOVE that! And I really like that you use it.

    I have hand-made quilts that I don't use too often because I'm afraid they are going to fade and tear. How silly is that???!

    I once went to the beach and saw a group of people sitting on a hand-pieced, hand-quilted quilt on the beach!! I was MORTIFIED! Will that happen to my quilts, I wondered. I actually got up and told them what they were using shouldn't be in the sand, but enjoyed in the house. My husband nearly died, but I had to speak for the woman who made it. She would have been sick to see it in the sand.

  2. I know how you feel Lin. However, a quilt wouldn't hold sand as much as other things. I love quilts and I haven't the patience to make one. I just enjoy other people's work.

  3. I am Grandma's opposite on this matter. For as long as they last I will use the things that make me smile. These things will get old, faded, broken or too sandy for continued use. When it happens, I am happier to have the memories of using them than I would be if they were tucked in the closet.

    Love, Cindy

  4. Yes, things are not meant to be kept, they are meant to be used and remind you of the person who gave it or made it for you.

    I gave Brynne one of my grandma Althoff's serving spoons. It was pretty well worn. I told her she was probably going to be the last owner of that spoon and to use it. I'm sure she will.


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