Happy President’s Day from all of us at Interweave!

I hope you are having a happy President’s Day and take some time to indulge in your favorite craft. To celebrate this holiday, I’m sharing some wonderful articles on crocheters and crochet projects that have graced the White House through the years. Several first ladies used their craft to carry them through difficult times or poor health during their time in the White House. Learn more about the historical first ladies who crochet in these wonderful issues of PieceWork, and find accompanying patterns for projects to improve your mood!

happy president's day

Ida McKinley’s Slippers to Crochet

The November/December 2013 issue of PieceWork features Betsy Butler’s article on first lady Ida Saxton McKinley and the many crocheted slippers she created while her husband was in office:

    Ida Saxton McKinley (1847-1907), the wife of President William McKinley (1843-1901), was limited by precarious health. Suffering from severe headaches, mild epileptic seizures, fainting spells, and periods of depression, she often preferred to remain in her private quarters. But despite her physical limitations, she was an avid crocheter said to have crocheted some 4,000 pairs of bedroom slippers during her lifetime . . . Mrs. McKinley either gave these slippers away to friends, veterans, and orphans or she sold them at auction to raise money for the charities that she supported.

Feeling inspired by the charitable work of Ida Saxton McKinley? Check out Betsy’s full article and the pattern for Ida McKinley’s Slippers to Crochet.

First lady Grace Coolidge was also an avid crocheter. In the July/August 1999 issue of PieceWork, author Lynne Zacek Bassett explains the origins of Grace’s crafty nature in her article “The Needlework of First Lady Grace Coolidge”:

    Born in 1879 in Burlington, Vermont, Grace Goodhue never expected to spend part of her life in the White House. Even so, from a young age she showed the personality traits that would serve her well later on: a natural warmth and ease in making friends, and a talent and love for needlework. After retiring from public life, when she was once again able to enjoy some privacy and time for reflection, Grace wrote:
    “Every girl should be taught to sew, not merely for the sake of making something but as an accomplishment which may prove a stabilizer in time of perplexity or distress. Many a time when I have needed to hold myself firmly, I have taken my needle, it might be a sewing needle, some knitting needles, or a crochet hook; whatever its form or purpose it often proved to be as the needle of the compass, keeping me to the course.”

The article features an image of an INCREDIBLE reproduction of the Lincoln bed coverlet originally created by Grace Coolidge after the unexpected death of her son. The filet crochet patterning in the coverlet is truly remarkable! Although the issue does not include a pattern for the full coverlet, you can find a pattern for a filet crochet pillow inspired by the coverlet. The Liberty Bell Pillow pattern, designed by Meg Grossman, is an homage to the work of Grace. The Lincoln Bedroom coverlet took Grace close to two years to make—we hope the Liberty Bell Pillow will take a little less time.

I hope you enjoy these remarkable crochet patterns inspired by historic first ladies of the White House. I recommend following their lead and using the craft to calm you in times of trouble.

Happy historical stitching to you! And happy President’s Day!
—Sara Dudek
Associate Editor, Interweave Crochet


Header Image: President and Mrs. Coolidge aboard the Mayflower. | Bettman Collection | Getty Images
First Lady Ida Saxon McKinley, wife of President William McKinley, seated in a garden. | Photo by Library of Congress/Corbis/VCG | Getty Images


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