Mary Corbet

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I learned to embroider when I was a kid, when everyone was really into cross stitch (remember the '80s?). Eventually, I migrated to surface embroidery, teaching myself with whatever I could get my hands on...read more

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Last Needlework Stop: Lacis in Berkeley


Amazon Books

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!

Lacis Needlework Shop in Berkeley, California

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.

Lacis Needlework Shop in Berkeley, California

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.

Lacis Needlework Shop in Berkeley, California

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.

Lacis Needlework Shop in Berkeley, California

Everywhere you turn, you’ll find strange little gift and specialty items, like this wooden fish puzzle.

Lacis Needlework Shop in Berkeley, California

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.

Lacis Needlework Shop in Berkeley, California

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.

Lacis Needlework Shop in Berkeley, California

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.

Lacis Needlework Shop in Berkeley, California

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!

Lacis Needlework Shop in Berkeley, California

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.

Scenery in California

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

Scenery in California

I’m kind of a sucker for seascapes, marine life, and birds. In Monterey, you can find all three in abundance.

Scenery in California

The seagulls are huge and humorous.

Scenery in California

Upon leaving the Monterey and Carmel area, we took the coastal road towards San Diego.

Scenery in California

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.

Scenery in California

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.

Grand Canyon

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!

Loretto Chapel - St. Joseph Stairs

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!

Map of the Whole Road Trip

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!


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(8) Comments

  1. Welcome back! I've been waiting to see your review of Lacis – having been there in May (while at RSN Goldwork in San Fran; BTW I passed. Thank you for the advice.) It really is indescribable. Until you start to focus on all the wonderful stitching goodies, all the vintage treasures make you feel as though you might bump into your great grandmother around the next aisle! The museum tableaux in the back is just a little spooky/creepy, but the rest of the store does have anything and everything. If you need anything "hands-on" shopped, I'll be going back in September (RSN Crewel this time) so just let me know – I'd be happy to play "personal shopper!"

  2. Thank you so much for taking me on vacation. I've seen so much that otherwise I would probably never get near to seeing. Still my favorite places and stops were the needlework shops.
    Now I can't wait to see what we brought home.

  3. Again, so exciting to see your photos. I was scrolling down and saw the skeins of floss. I spoke out loud (talking to myself as usual) "Hey, that looks like EdMar floss!" Sure enough, it is.

    I bought several skeins recently for a cross stitch project. Not a bright idea. I got through my little project and sent the floss on to someone else that can use it as intended. It is beautiful to look at though. Great colors and shine.

    The gull you mentioned happens to be a Western Gull which is the largest of the gulls. (I work with wildlife) Too bad you didn't see a Mew Gull; they're very petit and seem to walk on their tippy toes like a ballerina. irene

  4. What a long trip in so few days!
    I followed you by Google map to have an idea of distances you've travelled. I must confess I became a little tired – it was a long distance trip!
    Thanks for sharing and I'm looking forward to see the needlework stuff you'd bought :))

  5. I'm in Dana Point, which is just the next city over from San Juan Capistrano. I drive by the mission all the time but I haven't been there since I was a child. I don't remember much about it, but you are right on about the swallows. It seems to be what people focus on more than the history of the mission.
    That, and we all grew up hearing about the ghosts that haunt the mission still;-)

  6. Wow! That was quite a trip for two weeks! Thanks so much for showing us those wonderful shops. The array of threads made me drool something terrible! BTW, your starting/ending point looks fairly close to me. How far are you from Topeka?

    Liz in NE Kansas

  7. HI, all! Thanks for your comments and interesting remarks! It was a fun trip!

    Liz, I'm about 40 miles from Topeka. Whereabouts are you? It's supposed to be pretty warm here tomorrow! Summer Proper waited until I got home, I guess! *sigh*

  8. Long but fantastic trip – isn't Lacis the best store EVER? I just loved it and could have just moved in a bed and stayed there! 🙂
    If you're like me, the website isn't the same – the eye candy and the ability to touch is amazing!

    Great posts and fun trip! Thanks for sharing!

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