I poked around in Grandma's stuff once and found a bunch of bobbins. In the classic "what, why, how, show me!" way of children, I pestered her until she showed me how it all worked -- reluctantly, miserably, and demonstrating the definition of antipathy, she made some lace at my bequest on the special lap pillow with a project started and long discarded in the closet. Grandma moved the bobbins around and pinned threads back while twisting and knotting things until my outspoken sister stated the obvious, "This is SO boring!"
We gave it up and made a pie instead which made everyone happy.
|Tatting shuttle & lace
I inherited Grandma's dislike for such hobbies and love of pie. Both of us preferred to crochet if we got out yarn. Yet, I have her tatting shuttles and my heart feels warm that she humored me that day. (Lace making by tatting is a bit more like crocheting.)
|Not Grandma's hands, but this shows how lace is made
Lace was a way of showing status a long time ago. Anybody who had the leisure time to make it wasn't worried about how to pay the rent. Anyone who could buy it had extra money to spend. Lace collars were popular, lace on pillowcases, lace on the arms of chairs... they put lace on everything. And sadly, a lot of it ended up at the garage sale for a quarter, or "go ahead and fill a bag for a dollar!"
|Tatted doily on my table
I've gotten a lot of doilies and lace from old ladies at garage sales. I have exactly one on display on a table under a glass. The others are boxed up and waiting for someone to love them in a different generation. Having seen Grandma demonstrate the hideously tedious process, I feel for the women who made these things. I'm supposing that some of these ladies might've enjoyed it, the same way some crazy women like to knit, but I just appreciate the amount of labor they put into making the beautiful lace designs.
The lynx on scratchboard took a year of my life to create. About 2/3 of the way through, I started really resenting it. I didn't feel like I could start a new project until I finished it, and the amount of work to finish it seemed insurmountable. I finally said "screw it!" and just completed it, but I wasn't so perfect anymore. I had it done within a week or two, and I don't think anyone can tell which parts I did fast and which I bled over. In fact, I think the less labored parts are better. That's a lesson I've carried with me.
The lynx hangs in my house. I described to a friend the pain of creating it, and he called it "wampum", which is highly valued beadwork Native Americans made from shell. The true value of it was in the labor it took to create. Indians had to find the shells, sand them into beads, drill holes (without metal drills, and having to make the drills they used), and then they stitched them together for the final product. It took many hands many hours.
Ever after that conversation with my friend, I see the wampum in certain things. Hand-made lace is one of those things. Painstaking art is another. I think the world would be better if more value was placed on the wampum ideal. In the meantime, I'll keep rescuing lace.