“Tatting for the Temple,” Ensign, June 2002, 71
Two years before the San Diego California Temple was to be dedicated, a letter came to my stake Relief Society president asking that she find women in the stake to make altar cloths for the new temple. The altar cloths were to be tatted or crocheted and had to be completed within 10 months. My ward Relief Society president suggested my name. I accepted the invitation to help with much trepidation because up to that point I had tatted only small strips of lace.
I immediately called a cousin who also tats and asked her to send me several patterns she thought would work for the temple. When they arrived, I quickly chose one and began to figure out exactly how much work I would have to do each day in order to have the cloth completed in time. Each repetition in a pattern, or what I call a medallion, takes 30 minutes to make, and I would have to make three each day. I would have to tat for an hour and a half every day, six days a week, for approximately nine months.
I felt I had gotten in over my head. I was already a busy wife and mother of four children, ages 7 through 12. I was also a brand-new schoolteacher and Young Women adviser.
I was about to say I couldn’t fulfill the assignment, but then I thought of the women who had crushed their china to beautify the walls of the Kirtland Temple and the women who sewed shirts for those who worked on the Nauvoo Temple. I wanted to participate as those women did. I didn’t know where I was going to get an extra hour and a half each day, but I trusted that the Lord would accept my sacrifice and provide a way.
The Lord truly blessed me during those next nine months. I took my tatting with me wherever I went. I washed my hands before I touched it and wrapped it in a towel to make sure it stayed perfectly white. I wanted this altar cloth to be perfect. Many times I would find a mistake and have to pick out as many as five or six medallions, thus increasing the time per day I would need to spend tatting. However, somehow I still found time each day to work on the cloth, and what started out to be a sacrifice became a great privilege and joy.
When the cloth was finally completed, I carefully washed and shaped it. Before I turned it in, I gave it one last look. There in the middle was a huge mistake! I had inadvertently added an extra piece to one of the medallions.
I had handled the cloth hundreds of times. How could I have overlooked the mistake? I would gladly have picked it out when it had occurred or even weeks afterward, but now there was no time. The date for delivery was upon me, and correcting the mistake would take at least four months of work!
I was devastated beyond words. I cried. I berated myself. I had worked painstakingly to have this altar cloth perfect for the Lord’s house, and now there was a mistake in it that could not be corrected in time. I prayed to Heavenly Father, asking why this had happened and how I could have missed something so obvious. I told Him how sorry I was that it was not perfect.
Then a beautiful peace came over me. I realized that like the altar cloth, I am not perfect, but the Savior accepts my sincere efforts, and He would accept my gift for His house. He makes up the difference when I fall short. His grace is sufficient for me.
Feelings of gratitude and relief washed over me. I got off my knees and did my best to fix the mistake so that it was barely noticeable and delivered the cloth on time.
A few months later I was with the Young Women of our ward as we toured the temple before its dedication. I was thrilled when we walked into a sealing room and there on the altar was my cloth. It looked beautiful.
When I began the altar cloth I felt I had been given a way to honor my temple covenants by making a sacrifice for the Lord. What I learned is that I was blessed for making the sacrifice. I thought I was giving something to the Lord. In reality, He was giving me the opportunity to draw closer to Him.