Grandma Pat and Other Stories about Lace

Round tablecloth tatted by Lily Mae Burley Patrick ("Grandma Pat"). About 64 inches in diameter. Collection of June Jones Gray. Photograph by Delores Chase.

“ . . . the history of lace is so interwoven with life’s comedies and tragedies,” wrote Samuel L. Goldenberg in his 1904 book, Lace: Its Origin and History.

Goldenberg’s characterization of lace history struck me as the perfect framework for many of the stories in PieceWork’s May/June 2013 6th Annual Lace issue. And perhaps that intersection of joy and sorrow is especially evident in the story of “Grandma Pat.” Lily Mae Burley Patrick was a skilled needlewoman who, despite sorrow and setback, including blindness, continued her love of craft and went on to tat five—yes five!—tablecloths.

And all the while, she was a delight and inspiration to her children and grandchildren, one of whom tells her grandmother’s story in this issue and provides instructions to tat a motif in the tradition of “Grandma Pat.”

Suffragist Susan B. Anthony wearing her signature delicate lace collar and cuffs. Library of Congress Frances Benjamin Johnston Collection, Washington, D.C. Photo by Frances Benjamin Johnston and courtesy of the Library of Congress.

There are other poignant and thought-provoking articles in this May/June issue that have made me think about the complex history of lace knitting and its role not just in our personal lives but in politics and through social change.

You will discover the chants of Renaissance bobbin lacemakers, many of whom were children, and what Shakespeare knew about them. Newly discovered correspondence by tireless women’s rights champion Susan B. Anthony shows she was a lace fan, too!

The needle-lace insert stitched by members of the Associazione Culturale "I merletti di Antonilla Cantelli" in Bologna, Italy. Photo by Joe Coca.

In this lace issue, the techniques span a broad spectrum: knitting, crocheting, needlelace, and tatting. You’ll learn about the Shetland knitters in New Zealand and find Margaret Stove’s pattern for a lace scarf.

A poignant young adult novel is the source of inspiration for the author and designer’s crocheted lace scarf, and the needlelace talents of an Italian lace association provide instructions for an exquisite and intricate needle-lace insert.

And in her editorial for the issue, editor Jeane Hutchins will tell you a bit more about wise Samuel L. Goldenberg and his 1904 publication.

Enjoy this issue and all of our previous special lace issues; each explores the rich and complex world of lace.