Looping Back to the Story
I just had a sneak peek at the PieceWork 2012 collection CD. What a fabulous year. Looking through all six issues in one collection made me ponder what elements made 2012 so outstanding. Was it all the techniques—everything from bobbin to knitted lace, from stitch-resist dyeing to tambour needlework and Bosnian crochet? Or was it the range of epochs and historical events represented? The traditions of China and Peru, of Norway and Mali, and various ley lines between? Was it the people? The stuff?
I, like many of you, love PieceWork stories—the ones detailing lives of remarkable people who also are accomplished needleworkers. 2012 had plenty of them. Ileana Grams Moog’s story “The Knitted Gloves That Saved My Mother’s Life” (January/February) about the gloves her mother knitted a German guard in France during World War II will stay with me always. And there was Chester Bentz and his lifelong commitment to tatting and all those bedspreads he tatted for his sons on the back roads of Iowa (May/June). And there was Hazel Carter who traveled the world, translating complicated Shetland lace knitting patterns into charts and seeking out the cobweb singles to knit them (November/December).
In a weird way, I feel like I have a relationship to these people whom I’ve never even met, but it’s that connection to them, to their families, and to the textile historians who tell their stories that heartens me and that feeds and fuels my curiosity.
And what makes the characters in these stories transcend the pages and live on in my own life, and I hope yours, is the opportunity to make the very things that they did. I find particular joy in seeing a designer’s sketch rendered into an heirloom piece with the perfect yarn or thread, knowing I can make it, too! Whether they’re knit in wool-alpaca worsted weight, a cashmere laceweight, or a 2-ply sock yarn, or crocheted in size 10 cotton thread, or worked in 6-strand embroidery floss, I’m never disappointed when completed projects arrive in our office. When my fingertips find the texture of a pair of mittens or the intricate details of a tatted edging, I’m so pleased at how all the pieces have come together. These objects are exquisitely wrought, yes, beautiful, whimsical at times, stunning. But it’s more than that, it’s the way the object loops me back to the story it accompanies and defines the life it’s meant to represent.