On Sunday 26th March, Pam and I went to a Lace Open Day, organised by the group in Cartagena. This was about an hour's drive on the coach going northwards along the coast, so not a great distance from us, but there was a marked difference in the way the day was run compared with the ones we have been to locally, and quite a difference in the styles of lace, both on show, and work-in-progress. The Spanish ladies around here tend to do quite heavy lace with failry coarse threads. There we saw much finer lace ,which personally I prefer, and which Pam and I do as it is also more the English style of work. But as well as traditional bobbin lace we saw a variety of other related crafts. I saw one group doing something similar to macramé with three-ply weight wool, to make a wide edge on towels. Others were doing drawn thread work but with coarse linen cloth and fine wool on a strange frame. One lady was embroidering flowers with wide silk ribbon, and a whole group were doing free-hand embroidery on heavy wool fabric in white wool, and I now know that this is part of the traditional fiesta costume in the Valencia region.
When we arrived we queued at a caravan in the hall grounds for our breakfast which turned out to be long strips of fresh cooked churros (sort of doughnut batter) with a thick, rich drinking chocolate to dunk them in. (After that we knew it was going to be a good day!) Then we did some of our lace, walked around to see what everyone else was making, and visited the various trade stalls. I picked up a few patterns that I wanted, and a reel of pretty thread. Then we were taken in small groups to some mini-buses that ferried us to a display of lace work at the town hall. This had been in place all week, and it was much more impressive than the usual table at the side of the hall displaying work by the host group. There were some exquisite pieces in the display, ranging from towel edgings to full sets of table-ware, petticoats with lace bodices, tee-shirts with appliqued lace motifs and baby clothes, plus doileys, flowers, and jewellry. Each minibus load was accompanied by a member of the Cartagena group, and they all wore hand made blouses in fine white material, with tiny pintucks all the down the front, and inlaid with bands of fine hand-made lace. We were very impressed!
Back at the hall we were asked to clear the tables so they could bring in our lunch. It was around three o'clock by then, a long time since the churros and chocolate, so we were ready for a meal. First they gave us all cuttlery, cups and serviettes. We could have a can of soft drink, beer or water. We sat at tables of around a dozen people and on each table they put dishes of home-pickled olives and potato crisps. Then we were each given a huge slice of empañada (tuna pie), followed by big platters of entramesas, (a selection of sliced meat and cheese), with fresh bread rolls. Next came individually packed foil dishes with a quarter roast chicken and jacket potato in them.(The local chicken man had a good day. There were about five hundred of us to feed!). We thought that must be it, but then we were given a cup of sweet moscatel wine followed by strong black coffee and hard aniseed cakes. And finally they came round with an ice cream cornetto each. We were stuffed!! And the whole day had only cost us €6 each.
There is always some form of entertainment during the day, and so far this has been provided by the local dancing school doing traditional flemenco dancing. But again Cartagena did it differently. As we sat down for our lunch, a group of five young men arrived wearing black 'tights' and a sort of blouson tunic in black velvet with blue slashes in the sleeves and blue sashes, and they carried musical instruments. During lunch they went to each table and sang a couple of songs before moving on to the next one. Sometimes they got quite animated leaping about and tapping tambourines on their heels. They had super voices and were such fun. Everyone enjoyed them, and they looked as though they enjoyed doing it too.
Usually we are given a little 'goodie' bag when we arrive at a lace day, with a free pattern, and a roll and drink for breakfast in it, but we weren't on that day, though we felt we had been more than compensated by the churros etc. But when they had cleared the tables they came round and gave each of us a bag containing a really nice cream linen apron trimmed in blue gingham with their group name on the pocket. So all in all it was a really good day.
I took some photos of the lace display, but rather than choose a couple to put on here, I will make a mini album of them on my gallery that is only visible using this link. So do click here and see what had been made. I haven't made it completely public as none of it is my work, so I didn't like to.