I did not end up posting this on the day I wrote it. It all happened yesterday, Sunday of the first day of standard time… thank heaven for that extra hour!
There is a textile crisis going on in the Osborn house this morning! If you are my husband, either of my two sons, or any of their acquaintances, reading this, you are probably scoffing!–or laughing! Bob says a dropped stitch is an adventure for me! (not true) Those of you who know me will know how serious this is.
I began sewing the larger lace to the christening dress this morning, starting with a 12″ length that is getting attached to the bottom of the front bodice. Earlier this week I noticed that the first inch or so of this lace, which I started months ago, had discolored a bit. When I showed it to a few other people this week we all agreed that it probably was affected by the darling walnut lace holder I’d been using to wind the lace as it came off the pillow. This prevents the lace from hanging off the the back of the pillow and possibly hitting the ground or getting caught on something. Perhaps the tannins in the wood leached into that first bit of lace that wrapped around the wooden cylinder (just right of center in the photo below).
Last night I soaked this lace in a mild solution of Eucalan, a gentle cleaner that I use for washing wool locks that I want to clean before spinning, as well as cleaning my handspun yarns. This morning I took that bit of lace outside to get a good look at it to see if it had come clean. To my horror, I discovered that the stain was not just in the first inch of lace…..it was a discoloration that ran the length of the lace in a distinct pattern.
Somehow, when I started this lace, I managed to wind bobbins with two different colors! One was pure white, and the other was half-bleached. So I’ve got two colors running through the whole length of my lace–almost 2 yards. That lace has taken me over 100 hours to make, and I hate the mottled look of the two colors.
How could I have done this? I still cannot imagine the scenario. Surely, I must have been interrupted as I wound the 36 bobbins needed for this pattern. But I know I would have left the spool of linen with the unwound bobbins. How did I manage to get a 2nd spool of linen into the mix? It’s no use wondering how this happened. It’s time to decide what to do about it.
My first reaction was to make peace with it. I pinned the cut piece of lace to the dress. I took it to different rooms as well as outside to look at it in various lights. When I’m in a gloomy room and cannot see the problem, I don’t mind it. Anywhere else, where I can see the color changes, I hate it. I think this photo does a reasonable job of showing the color problem.
Solution #2 is to tea dye it and make the whole thing off white. I cannot get onboard with this. The dress is a bright white, and the smaller lace at the neckline is also. I just can’t go there….and what if the lace still looks mottled after the tea dye? It could very well look dirtier!
So, as I’m writing this I am taking desperate measures. I am soaking the small bit of lace for the bodice in a weak solution of bleach. Yikes! I’ve done a futile internet search on bleaching linen and come up mostly empty handed. I called my friend Clare, who is a far more experienced lace maker than I am, someone I hoped might have had a similar situation. And she has! She bleached some vintage lace in the past, and it worked while not harming the old fibers. My linen threads are new and should be able to take this treatment. I’m following her lead.
Tick tock…. I have stopped the bleaching three times now. First time was 10 min. Then I did an additional 3 minutes. Now I’m watching the timer for another 5 minutes. Each time I’ve rinsed the lace and put it into a diluted hydrogen peroxide solution. Both the bleach solution and the hydrogen peroxide solution are about 1:10 ratio, chemical to water.
I will not go beyond 30 minutes total. I think the lace looks whiter, but it still doesn’t look quite right against the dress. It’s a dark day here, and drizzling, so I’m blasting my two brightest Ott lights at my little container of diluted bleach, hoping I can get as good lighting as possible for seeing some change!
One last try…. I added 1 1/2 tsp more bleach (1/2 TB) to my solution and am trying again for 5 minutes. I think I will have to make peace with this and not go further. Ha! I added another 2 minutes when the timer went off.
The almost verdict: the lace is still damp so it will get slightly lighter when it’s completely dry. The lace is noticeably lighter than its unbleached counterpart that is still attached to the lace pillow. I can still see a color difference running through the lace, but it is less obvious. I’m hoping it will be even more subtle once the lace is dry. I bleached it for a total of 27 minutes, and do not want to chance doing more. I must make peace with this ……MUST!
I’m trying to convince myself that the dress will still be a lovely thing in spite of its flaws. I expected some sewing flaws, but I did not expect the lace to be the focal point of my disappointment. I hope the love embedded in the dress will make up for the visual flaws…
It’s now a couple of hours later. The lace has dried, and looking at it with my two brightest work lights I cannot see any cream color now! Whew!
That was WAY too close to disaster! I feel undeservedly lucky.