These Are the Textiles of Our Lives

A Note from Kathleen: Between my mom and me, we have quite a collection of textiles. There are the many, many monogrammed handkerchiefs, one of which is framed and displayed proudly in what I like to call "the hall of relatives past," which is full of memorabilia and black and white photographs of our Scottish relatives and heritage. My favorite item, though, is a beautifully embroidered, heavy tea-colored linen tablecloth and napkin set (14 napkins!) passed down from my gramma, and the crocheted-edged and embroidered pillowcases from my great-aunt, which are on my bed (and photographed at left) as I write this!

The new issue of PieceWork magazine is a tribute to these everyday textiles and the role they play, generation after generation, in our lives. Here's editor Jeane Hutchins to introduce you to the special projects PieceWork has to offer you.

Do the words "everyday textiles" conjure up images from your past? They certainly do for me. Actually, they evoke powerful memories of those who created some of my treasured everyday textiles, including my mom, my grandmother, and a close family friend. Fortunately, I've managed to hang onto several, and I use them often.

Knitted and crocheted pot holders from Susan Strawn's collection.
Photograph by Joe Coca.

Among them are a luncheon cloth (part of me longs to return to the days when I might have had occasion to use a luncheon cloth) embroidered and appliquéd with bright red poppies and trailing vines.

Another is a delicately embroidered white-on-white linen bread cloth.

A third, a plain white doily surrounded by embroidered pansies, is marred by a giant rust spot that I haven't been able to remove, but I have a large, dark blue glass vase that covers up the stain.

A brick with a knitted cover to be used as a doorstop. From Weldon's Practical Needlework, Volume 11.

And this list wouldn't be complete without mentioning the double-knitted two-color pot holders that the master textile artist Lydia Van Gelder made for me. Each of these treasures makes me smile.

The March/April issue of PieceWork does the same—it's our salute to everyday textiles, ones that may evoke fond memories for many of you. Here are a few examples:

Pot Holders.
I bet millions of pot holders have been crafted over their 250 years in existence—some obviously for use but a great many as gifts and tokens of affection. Susan Strawn shares some of her collection of about 500. A few of her knitted and crocheted ones are shown at left.

Knitted Bricks. Okay, they aren't actually knitted bricks, but they are knitted covers for bricks. Only the Victorians could have come up with this! But they do make a swell doorstop.

Virginia McGlynn's back-of-the-neck scarf. Photograph by Joe Coca.
Robin Hansen's Weave-It afghan made by her aunt. Photograph by Joe Coca.

Weave-Its. If you were around in the 1940s and 1950s or had a relative crafting then, you probably know about the Weave-It loom and the wondrous things one could make from the woven squares of yarn it produced, with afghans being a big favorite.

Back-of-the-Neck Scarf.
I absolutely adore this scarf. While the designer based this on a scarf knitted by her grandmother in the early to mid-decades of the 20th century, I think its classic look would be perfect with a 21st-century sweater and jeans combo.

And, of course, there are more everyday textiles in this issue—embroidered hand towels, crocheted monograms for marking towels, "useful stockings," and a laundry apron.

I hope you find something that brings back memories and makes you smile!

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