"Bulgarian Lace" by Hannah Anderson

October 1999

1 of 4

Everyday Leyla Kolka brings mounds of handmade lace to a table in front of Alexander Nevski Church in Sofia. She passes the day talking to other women as her rough, wrinkled hands knot intricate geometric patterns with a hook and thread. In the evening she goes home, watches television and makes more lace to add to her pile.

-Kolka is one of about 60 women who line the street with handmade tablecloths, Belgian lace, crotcheted blouses and doilies. Some sell their own work, others sell the work of friends from villages in the region. They gazed with hopeful, cash-hungry eyes as we approached the webs of lace. A small, aggressive woman stepped in front of us and waved a large crotcheted tablecloth in our faces. My friend politely told the woman "it's nice." I disagreed silently and looked at other tables. Her knots were quite loose and sloppy compared to my great-grandmother's. Kolka's table was next to this woman's.