Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Marguerite Shimmons' Doilies at Rengstorff House.

Intermezzo, a doily I knitted from a pattern attributed to Herbert Niebling
silk and wool, 2mm needles
Zwei Deckchen Kungstgestrickt, Art No 060 01 0007
Paul and I went to Mountain View on Sunday, May 19, to attend the Lovely Lace exhibit at Rengstorff House in Mountain View.  The exhibit runs through July 24, 2013, and two of my doilies are on display.

Outside in the courtyard were demonstrations of lace and crafts, including bobbin lace, what looked like Chantilly lace, and some other fascinating things like lanyard making and hula hoop rug weaving. Interesting. The idea was to have a family type of event, but most of the people who attended were older, and just a couple of younger people were at the demo tables.

Traffic and Disobedience

Attendance was light, partly due to a major five-car accident that stopped traffic on 101 in both directions.

In addition, Shoreline Amphitheatre was hosting Live105's BFD concert, with about 25 bands and the traffic on Rengstorff and Amphitheatre Parkway was horrendous. 

With about two blocks to go, I was fed up and decided to try something I don't recommend, but it worked.  I turned on my warning flashers, and cut into the opposing traffic lane.  I zoomed down to the stop light where a traffic guard flagged me down to stop.  (Note to my peers: please do not attempt this dangerous maneuver.)

I said with authority, "I'm an exhibitor at Rengstorff House, and I need to get there right away. I'm not going to the concert."

"I'm sorry, I can't let you go. You have to wait in line."

"I need to turn left at the stoplight.  I'm not turning right into the concert."

The traffic guard said tiredly, "Okay, just pretend you work here."

Paul was somewhat impressed with my assertiveness (and that I dared to drive on the wrong side of the road - so unlike me).  "Way to go!"

We met up with Nina and Jane, my fellow knitters, and had lunch at the Lakeside Cafe, just down the road from Rengstorff House.  The cafe has a great brunch menu, and an outdoor seating area adjacent to a manmade lake where local, overweight squirrels wait patiently for visitors to drop french fries. 

Marguerite Shimmons' Doilies

Charles Grant, docent, who dances like Fred Astaire
The Rengstorff House is a wonder, having been rescued from the wrecking ball and moved to its current location.  The house has been fully restored to its Victorian glory.  Thankfully, the docents are a delightful group. Dressed in historic garb, they provided a good bit of information about the restoration and the contents of the oldest house in Mountain View.

But the true reason for my attendance, and the best things I've seen in a long time, were Marguerite Shimmons' doilies.  Marguerite was a lifelong, prolific knitter, who made over a thousand lace pieces in her lifetime.  The Lace Museum in Sunnyvale and Lacis Museum of Lace and Textiles in Berkeley have each benefitted by the donation of her lacework. We were very fortunate to see some of her masterworks close-up.  These small works of art, each unique and lovely in its own way, provided us glimpses of perfection usually only seen in museums.

Many of her doilies were knit from patterns designed by Herbert Niebling, a mid-20th-century lace designer extraordinaire. As his designs are becoming more admired by knitters around the world, the patterns are slowly being re-released.  I've made a few, and collected many of his patterns that I hope to knit in the future.  Some of Marguerite's doilies were designed by Christine Duchrow, and some were combinations of multiple patterns, devised by Marguerite herself.

I've used very fine cotton, silk and wool, and even cashmere to make a lace doily. I've not yet used thread as fine as Marguerite Shimmons used.  Her typical thread was 100-weight cotton that is often deployed for tatting and bobbin lace.  Miraculously, her stitch tension is perfect, even in the most complicated patterns.  I've examined these carefully, and her work is exquisite.

Gracie Larsen, founder of The Lace Museum, and The Lacy Knitters Guild of Mountain View are keeping this art alive -- I'm a huge fan and a member of the Guild.  To join The Lacy Knitters and receive the newsletter with patterns and information, please check out the Guild's website.

Nue Mode #5207/5 K44744, 69 rounds, 11" diameter

Die Kleine Diana K1399, 63 rounds, 12.5" diameter
Die Kleine Diana K1399, Burda #523, 56 rounds, 10" diameter

Knitted Lace Patterns of Christine Duchrow, vol 2, pattern 54/2 modified, 11" diameter

Two patterns uniquely combined by artist, 14.5" diameter:
Admiration, 37 rounds, combined with
Kunststricken #720/19, 23 rounds

Ambition, 22 rounds center, 40 rows ea for two side wings, 14 round edging, 15" oval

Kunststricken #720, 85 rounds, 12" oblong

Die Kleine Diana K4474, 74 rouinds, 14.5" diameter

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