Thursday, July 24, 2014

Altar Cloth

This should be my last in this string of posts that doesn't show something I've sewn.  This post is about a project, just not one that required the use of a sewing machine.  As today is Pioneer Day, I thought this was appropriate.

For the past 18 months or so I have been working on a crochet project.  It is an altar cloth for the temple being built close to my home.  This project has been a labor of love, a source of learning far beyond what I imagined, and my own special offering to the Lord.
View of a long and short edge prior to blocking
My family history is full of men and women who gave their all for what they believe.  Whether it was the pilgrims who came on the Mayflower or the pioneers who crossed the plains into unsettled territory, I have a heritage rich with individuals and families who were willing to sacrifice everything to do what the Lord wanted and for the free exercise of their religion.  They inspire me.
Closeup of the motifs
When the Relief Society President first announced that there was a call for altar cloths to be used in the temple being built just down the road, I jumped at the chance.  I'd been hoping to make something for the temple. Part of me just wanted to have some of my handiwork displayed and used in a such a beautiful, sacred place.  Mostly I wanted to channel my inner pioneer woman and take the opportunity to give a part of myself to the effort of building the temple, just as my ancestors had done.  I wasn't particularly experienced with crochet but I figured I was up for the challenge.  And challenge it was.

In the process of blocking
After looking at approved patterns, I chose the one that looked the most like something on my skill level and went to work.  The learning curve was a steep one.  I understood the abbreviations for stitches and other directions but I was still confused quite a bit at the beginning.  As I made the first few motifs I decided the instructions were stupid and that I knew better than what was printed on the page.  I was mistaken.  The first several motifs had to be pulled out and reworked or simply abandoned altogether.  Only with careful study of the pattern was I able to produce the intended design.  Just as the scriptures and the prophets lay out a pattern for us to have happiness in this life and exaltation in the eternities, so did the crochet pattern spell out what needed to be done in order to achieve a beautiful and usable finished altar cloth.  Deviating from that pattern only brought frustration.  Every time I skipped a step or made some other mistake I had to pull out the offending stitches and start again.  It was a strong reminder of the atonement, that even though we make mistakes or do something contrary to what is right we can change things, start again, and continue on the path as directed.  Even as I worked I knew the finished product would not be perfect (the learning process is evident to me in the difference in thread tension I used as I went) but that, by fixing my mistakes, I could make it flawless.
Detail of finished cloth and of the first (and very flawed) motif I made.  I kept it to remind myself how important it is to follow the directions.
Once I became familiar enough with the pattern and had repeated the motifs sufficiently that I didn't need to consult the pattern for every stitch, I still made careless mistakes.  Often.  Most of the time these mistakes were things that no one would ever notice and that even I didn't notice until I had worked another full round of the motif.  There was a great amount of temptation to simply keep going, knowing the mistake would be invisible.  But I couldn't.  While no one else would ever know, I would be keenly aware that I hadn't given my best.  And if I wasn't going to do my best it wasn't an offering I wanted to make to the Lord for His house.  My husband can attest to the many times I made the same silly mistake and had to pull out my work to fix it.  Now that the cloth is finished I know all the extra fixing to make it as well as I could was worth it. I can look at it and know I gave the best that was in me.
Finished and blocked
The altar cloth is now washed, blocked, and lovingly wrapped in fabric to protect it until I can hand it off to be of use in the temple.  I look forward to participating in temple work and, hopefully, seeing the cloth I made gracing an altar and adding beauty to the room.  The experience has been an emotional one, as I truly have felt a part of the legacy I have inherited.  In the past few days I have felt I was paying tribute to them while I worked at making a gift for the temple.  I am truly blessed.

1 comment:

  1. this is absolutely beautiful and incredible in every way!!