"Bulgarian Lace" by Hannah Anderson

October 1999

2 of 4

Her eyes were soft and gentle and smile inviting but her body toughened by the times. She grabbed two tightly tatted doilies from her mound and spread them over a chair. I began examining her skillfully crafted knots. Through body language and an inquisitive expression I asked her how she made it. She hurried to her sewing kit and pulled out a small crotchet hook and a spool of thread. We watched in amazement as her skillful hands knotted an ornate centimeter circle within a minute. "I learned how to do this from my mother and grandmother," she told us in Bulgarian. A sweet chuckle rose from her strong body when we asked her if she had taught anyone. She reached for her sewing kit and responded, "No, one of my daughters is an engineer and the other is a mechanic." She put the crochet hook in my hand and for several minutes attempted to teach me the craft.

I could visualize her hand pulling the thread around the hook and then through the right knot, but my hands could not duplicate the motions. As I began to lose patience with the knots, I thought of a conversation we'd had earlier in the afternoon at the National Ethnographic Museum.