Lace

Poking around in craft and notions shops in Barcelona I discovered troves of lace. I bought a diverse stock of remnants. I was fascinated by the transparency, the delicacy, the cloud-like quality of the laces, especially those which involve embroidered edging on a sheer net support. I arranged some of them around my little travel-sized image of Our Lady of Aparecida, so that she appears surrounded by a cloud. I began to imagine how lace could be added to my own clothing, and was inspired to see lace cuffs and collars even on common sweaters and blouses around town. Perhaps one goes Elizabethan, making detachable lace collars so that they don’t get damaged by washing.

One evening I passed a craft shop I hadn’t seen before, and went in to poke around. Two ladies at a work table were making bobbin lace: twining thread in and around patterns of pins set into foam supports. The threads were wound around wooden bobbins which hung down the front of the work, keeping light tension on the threads. I watched, fascinated, that this skill has not been lost. In fact, Barcelona is chock full of sewing shops with work tables around which regular classes and work sessions are held. Embroidery, knitting, quilting, cross-stitch, lace-making, sewing, Japanese embroidery and other crafts seem very popular. Lots of small shops sell handmade clothes, too.

I was astonished later when my mother said she’d made all her own clothing from the age of 14 onward. I brought drawing supplies on this trip instead of sewing supplies (mostly because sewing stuff has to go in checked luggage, lest you put someone’s eye out with it). But I was fretful without my sewing and went and bought a small set of embroidery needles, thread, trim, fabric and so on, and began dismantling the mantle of Our Lady of Aparecida in order to remake it fancier.

Here’s a lovely short film about lace making in France.

Great Geeky Girls

Here are some of my favorite geeky girls who have fun YouTube channels:

Sam van Fleet: This girl picks out wild mustangs, trains them from zero, and shows and sells them. When I was that age I don’t think I was doing anything useful. I love watching her attentive, careful training and listening to her thoughtful analysis of what’s going on with her horses. I used to have horses and did some training, so it’s a rabbit hole I’m thrilled to re-experience vicariously. Also impressive: Camille’s Mustangs. Really lovely to watch these young women working.

Karolina Żebrowska: Karolina has quirky interests mostly involving the history of clothing. She’s a funny story teller and I love watching her walk through her careful research on oddball subjects like “What would Snow White really have worn?” Since I do some sewing and embroidery (at a very basic level!) it’s inspiring to watch Karolina work with sewing projects, too.

Bernadette Banner: Another expert in historical costume, and also a great story-teller. My favorite so far is when she bought a Chinese knock-off of one of her own dresses to compare to the original. Her projects are always exotic and entertaining.

Nicola White: Apparently people in England go hunting for lost treasures in the tidal mud of the river Thames. This is somewhat gross, but also adventurous and rewarding. They find dead people, lost jewelry, strange artifacts…after all, the area has been inhabited for centuries, and the inhabitants have spent those centuries chucking stuff in the river… In any case, Nicola has a particular knack for story telling and her videos are intriguing and fun.

Musical Notation is Beautiful: The lovely woman who does this video series (Elba, if I caught her name correctly in the video?) gives fascinating accounts of different kinds of musical notation. If you like early music, calligraphy, medieval arts, or any related subject, check this out!

Caitlin Doughty: Widely known for her video series about death. Caitlin is a mortician and has all kinds of interesting stories to tell about modern and historic deaths, the biology of death, weird and interesting facts about dying and funerals. She’s also a good story teller and her videos are very engaging.

Speaking of death, I must add a fun watch, Sister Theresa Aletheia Noble, FSP, who has written a book of religious meditations on death and appeared on several television programs and podcasts to talk about it. Sister Aletheia doesn’t have her own channel, but you can see several of the interviews here.