Located in Berkeley, California, Lacis (pronounced “Lah-cease”) is, like I said yesterday, a weirdly wonderful needlework (and more) shop. It’s somewhat difficult to explain this place. I would have liked to have spent much more time there, but alas, by the time we stopped, we were behind schedule already. I ended up missing some of the “definites” that I wanted to see (and buy!), and I took lousy photos in general. 3,000 miles or so later, I’m kicking myself for that!
But, still, I’ll tell you what I can about this needlework-lace-museum-gift-book-and-antique-shop sort of shop. It’s a strange mix, but it works!
Located on a very busy street in Berkely (is there a street in Berkeley that isn’t very busy?), the shop has two parts to it: the shop, and the “lace museum.” From what I could tell – and I didn’t go through the whole thing – the lace museum is an ecclectic mix of collected laces, in a very casual venue. Unlike museums where pieces are kept behind glass, in climate and light-controlled settings, this museum is somewhat hodge-podge-ish, with the various displayed laces pinned to wall displays and draped hither and thither. Perhaps, behind the outside front, there are display cases and so forth, but I never quite made it to the museum proper.
In the shop part of the establishment, vintage clothing hangs from the ceiling, along with hats and bric-a-brac and all kinds of other stuff, taking up just about every display spot in the store.
Below, needlework goods fill the shelves and racks throughout the place.
In addition to needlework supplies, lace-making supplies, millinery supplies, costume-making supplies, and vintage books and patterns, you’ll find, mixed in, racks of nostalgic greeting cards and prints and so forth.
Everywhere you turn, you’ll find strange little gift and specialty items, like this wooden fish puzzle.
There are an abundance of threads. These are Edmar threads, used often in Brazilian embroidery. Besides the threads visible on display racks, there are drawers and drawers of different types of threads. One thing on my list for my visit to Lacis was to check out the whole range of floche that they have available on their website. I completely forgot! C’est la vie.
Threads for crochet, specialty yarns and lace-making threads – all kinds of threads take up the shelves and racks in the middle of the shop, as do spools of lace and ribbon and so forth.
Once you walk in, your attention may be first arrested by the clothes hanging above you and draped over everything, but it doesn’t take long to forget about the stuff above while perusing the stuff below! I thought the vintage apron on this dress was quite sweet.
You can buy vintage lace and vintage handkerchiefs there, as well, although I have to admit, I saw one “wedding hankie” – very fine needlework, indeed! – for $125, and was a little surprised at the price, especially considering that there were about six or so of the exact same handkerchief there (which leads one to think they may have been mass produced?). I bought one similar, in pristine condition, on eBay last year for a mere $18. So with a little shopping around, if you’re in the market for antique lace or vintage handkerchiefs or the like, I think you could probably find them at a more reasonable price elsewhere. However, as far as selection goes, Lacis seems to have a pretty vast selection of vintage goods to choose from!
Upon leaving the shop, I felt a bit flurried. It’s definitely one of those places that, if you go, allot a good amount of time for serious, concentrated browsing – thought concentration is somewhat difficult, as the shop was crowded with all kinds of shoppers, the staff was all very busy either helping customers or seeing to a variety of different tasks (like ironing fabric, separating buttons, answering phones, and fluttering about), and in general, the place has an overwhelming feeling of “clutter.” Weeding through the clutter, though, is fun.
One of my favorite aspects of the store was the back corner, which is filled with all kinds of needlework books on every kind of technique, many of which books are out of print or hard to find, and some of which are foreign. I liked the selection of vintage iron-on transfers for cutwork, as well as some interesting old magazines that I came across.
If you like a clean, tidy, and organized needlework shopping experience, Lacis may not be the place for you. Still, if you’re looking for anything related to needlework – even obscure tools – chances are, you’ll find it here. If you want a bit of adventure and you like exploring, then definitely put Lacis on your list of places to visit!
I’m still regretting the floche. But I know why it slipped my mind – there was just so much to see!
I didn’t purchase much at Lacis – a few books and cutwork patterns and a couple greeting cards, and I think that was about it. I don’t think I bought any thread at all. I know they have fabric there, too, but I don’t even recall looking at any! It was, to say the least, a whirlwind stop at a whirlwind store! On the bright side, anything I missed, I know I can find on the Lacis website, if I really need it. This, by the way, is the place that I buy my cutwork threads. I didn’t bother looking at cutwork threads, as I’m pretty fully stocked with them right now.
After leaving San Francisco, we headed south to Santa Clara, and then to Monterey and Carmel. Though we didn’t find our old house in Monterey (there are new homes along the street there), we did see some beautiful places.
One of my favorite aspects of Monterey, and really the whole central coastal area of California, is the sunny-foggy days. The day begins with a heavy fog covering the coastal area, but this tends to burn off by mid-morning, and the sun shines until late afternoon, when the fog starts to creep back in. Here, the fog is moving back over Monterey Bay and wharf
I’m kind of a sucker for seascapes, marine life, and birds. In Monterey, you can find all three in abundance.
The seagulls are huge and humorous.
Upon leaving the Monterey and Carmel area, we took the coastal road towards San Diego.
We stopped for a humorous interlude with some sea lions that were lounging on a beach. No, they aren’t dead. They’re just… lounging. I think it’s what they do best.
We visited several of the old missions along the coastal route. San Juan Capistrano, famous for its yearly influx of swallows, is certainly a beautiful setting, but it was probably my least-favorite mission stop, as it is so commercialized. The mission itself seems to be overshadowed by the swallows!
We took the coastal road all the way to San Diego, to Coronado, where my folks also lived (before I was born), and where my older sisters went to school for a bit. We found the old school and the old house. The house is about five houses from the beach, on Pine Street. Prime property today, but back in the day, my parents thought $30K was too much for it!
After a quick stop in Coronado, we headed east again – finally – to the rural parts of the country. I longed for open road and reduced traffic! And boy, did we ever get both! Through the deserts of Arizona and New Mexico, there isn’t much going on.
We went to the Grand Canyon – the southern and eastern rims – in Arizona. Hm. I’m not sure what to say about it. It’s majestic – beautiful – awesome – but the height made me rather woozy. Still – it’s something!
Finally, we went to Sante Fe, where we visited the Loretto Chapel to see the St. Joseph stairs, a very beautiful spot, with a very interesting story.
That was our last “tourist” stop on the trip – the rest was just returning to Kansas. To make the occasion of returning home memorable, we ended up in a massive thunderstorm that spawned at least one tornado within a mile of where we sat on the side of the highway, waiting for the storm to pass. Yes, Toto, we’re back in Kansas!
The trip began and ended more or less where the red dot is there in Kansas. Not bad, for 14 nights, three of which were spent in Minnesota before really “striking out.” It was a heap of fun! Still … there’s no place like home!
Now, that’s the nitty gritty of the recent travels, but wait! There’s more! Though I won’t bore you with anymore road tripping details, I do want to show you some of the needlework loot I picked up along the way, especially the books and a few handy items and accessories for stitchers that I thought looked … uh … necessary.
I’ll be sharing that with you over the next few days, while I’m trying to get together some upcoming tutorials and videos, and while I’m sorting through some projects and getting to work again. So, keep an eye out!