Handwork: Past and Present

We asked Jenn Rein, our content marketing project coordinator, to tell you about Katrina King’s gorgeous creation that appeared in PieceWork’s special issue, Vintage Crochet, and is now available as a PieceWork kit. Here’s Jenn!

Katrina King used a crocheted tablecloth worked by her grandmother as her inspiration for this gorgeous creation. All photos by Joe Coca.

Katrina King used a crocheted tablecloth worked by her grandmother as her inspiration for this gorgeous creation. All photos by Joe Coca.

Katrina King has said that one of the most challenging things about being a designer is having the ability to “make it pretty for everyone to understand.” The detailed and thoughtful Lace Shawlette, featured in PieceWork’s Vintage Crochet as Grama’s Shawl, demonstrates that she is apt at overcoming this challenge—especially when her work is based on the memories that shaped her own childhood. The visual impact of the lace shawl is both lovely and memorable.

The motifs in a tablecloth that Katrina’s grandmother crocheted are mimicked here. The maker and wearer is provided a direct connection to a personal history filled with apple and chocolate meringue pies, fresh wheat bread, and cinnamon rolls. For fans of PieceWork, it is projects like this one that continue to inspire an existing love of the past, while at the same time feeding an inclination to create classic items for the present.

As we look back with sentimentality on the iconic handmade symbols of our childhood, it is important to remember their functionality, for that is the impetus that brought them to life in the first place. The crocheted tablecloth of Katrina’s upbringing has been part of the tapestry of her own history, a familiar pattern beneath a plate of peanut butter banana cookies. Surely that item has seen a spill or two, as much as it has seen happy faces hovering over it, waiting to devour the bounty that was set upon it.

Detail of Katrina King’s shawl based on her grandmother’s crocheted tablecloth. The tablecloth that Katrina King’s grandmother crocheted. One of her grandmother’s prized collectible plates is shown with the tablecloth.

Detail of Katrina King’s shawl based on her grandmother’s crocheted tablecloth. The tablecloth that Katrina King’s grandmother crocheted. One of her grandmother’s prized collectible plates is shown with the tablecloth.

The most current incarnation of this pattern brings new life to its purpose–a special item once meant for the home is now meant for personal style. It can be said with certainty that the drive to create by hand in this day and age does not always reflect necessity. We make for widely different reasons, choosing projects based more on aesthetic than need. Did Katrina’s grandmother, crocheting her tablecloth, understand that the finished item would inspire her granddaughter to take the design beyond its original use? Not likely. And would a woman who lived as an adult in the 1930s consider a crocheted tablecloth pattern for a shawl? My guess is no.

The intriguing part about our own evolution as crafters and makers is that we have come to the point of being able to execute a project based on want rather than need. This has brought freedom to the fore of our creative lives. We can choose based on beauty and the desire to feel accomplished. It brings a separate set of values to the project at hand, but I would argue that it doesn’t make our finished work any less beloved.

Happy Crocheting!
Jenn
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