Fantasies of a lace jumpsuit
Wrapped in lace is what I want to be
Margaret Stove being held by her Godmother—from her book, Wrapped in Lace.
We keep the temperature in our house during the winter on the cool side—those from warmer regions might describe it as downright frigid. I imagine it is all a matter of perspective. We do turn up the heat when we have company, and we're working on saving up so that we can soon take on the major job of adding insulation between the bricks and plaster walls. (You'd think that all my wool would be enough to make it warmer, but sadly no.) In the meantime, when I'm working from home in the winter months, I add layers of clothing until I can sit comfortably in front of the computer without shivering off my chair. My husband sometimes laughs when he comes home and sees me all bundled up. He calls me his little babushka. I don't know if he knows how appropriate the endearment is, since my favorite and warmest layer is a fine lace Orenburg shawl handspun and knitted in Russia, likely by a grandmother wearing a similar shawl.
The one I wear was a gift to me in celebration of the birth of our eldest daughter. I immediately thought of it when I saw the photo of Margaret Stove wrapped in a beautiful white shawl as a baby in her book, Wrapped in Lace. She writes about how she studied the photograph so that she could recreate the shawl that she remembers from her childhood as her sisters were also wrapped in it after they were born. I can't help but wonder at the beauty of it all. These shawls are the product of generations of women creating gorgeous, practical cloth. This cloth was not only meant to keep them warm, but also to challenge the knitter (what new knitter doesn't feel challenged when facing a lace chart for the first time). It also communicates across generations and cultures, allowing the knitter to feel connected—not just with the past, but also with the future. I imagine my girls getting beyond the phase of rolling their eyes and sighing when I talk about fiber and yarn and getting into it with me, perhaps treasuring the things that I'll pass down to them when the time is right.
Every time I put on the shawl, I admire the intricate lace patterns and gossamer-weight yarn. It is light and yet so warm. Margaret's DVD, Spinning for Lace, has been a great companion as I give into this addiction for fine yarns and lacy patterns. I love seeing how she gently pulls a staple of Merino wool out of a fleece and then washes it lock by lock. And I love listening to her lilting New Zealand accent as she advises me on how to adjust my wheel. I fantasize about being able to make a lightweight but warm fabric that I could wear from head to toe—a handspun lace jumpsuit of sorts. Okay, maybe it wouldn't be the most practical of things, but it sure would be warm.