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Home for Crochet

Aug 30, 2011

Note from the PieceWork editors: Marcy Smith, editor of PieceWork's sister magazine, Interweave Crochet, just spent the last few weeks working in our home offices in Colorado, so we asked how things had been going. She regaled us with stories of detours and pit stops on her road trip from North Carolina, the alpaca farm location for her next photo shoot, and her penchant for vintage crochet magazines, but her musings on Wyoming's needlework past was our favorite. Here's Marcy:

I like to rescue vintage fiber crafts. At estate sales and flea markets, I always have my eye out for handmade fibers looking for a new home. A recent find was a hand-pieced and handquilted queensize quilt that I found loitering in a costume shop in Los Angeles. I purchased it for a ridiculously low sum of money, washed it up, and put it on my bed.

Recently, I was in Cheyenne, Wyoming, thrift-store mecca, and wandered into a big building with Antiques emblazoned on the side. Downstairs I found a circa 1970s granny-square afghan for less than 10 dollars. Surely that needed a home in North Carolina. I thought my work was done. Then, over by some tiny tin Jell-o molds and trinket boxes from London, I found the most extraordinary thing. It was a swath of crocheted fabric lashed to a stick. It took me a moment to figure out that it was—a crocheted flyswatter!

It might have been white kitchen twine at some point, but it is now dingy with darker spots that I don't want to ponder too much. It has been darned in a couple of places, so it saw some use. I secured my flyswatter (set me back a buck) and wandered out, pondering its origin.

Thelma is in the kitchen of her remote ranch house (in Wyoming? Nebraska?), done, done, done with the flies that keep pestering her as she puts up peach jam. She needs a way to swat them away. She could get one of those new-fangled flyswatters, thought up by that Kansas doctor in aught-five. But she wouldn't be trekking to the dry-goods store for a few weeks yet.
She would have to make her own.
The cheesecloth she uses to strain her jellies is too flimsy. Any other woven or knitted fabric wouldn't stand up to the task, either.
But crochet! Its sturdy stitches would create a firm fabric just right for swatting away those pesky bugs.
Working with kitchen twine, she started with a couple of stitches, then worked an extra stitch at the sides to broaden the fabric. After she tapered off the end, she firmed up the top by working around the edges: first a row of double crochet, then a row of single crochet. She found a sturdy twig, whittled in a couple of notches, then sewed the fabric to the stick with thinner twine.
Ha! Beware, fly! 

Linda Permann's Azalea Bowls
from Interweave Crochet,
Summer 2011.

Brenda k.B. Anderson's
Fiddlehaed Basket from
Interweave Crochet,
Summer 2011

An hour or so of work and her life was better, all thanks to crochet.
I love how crochet stands up to the practical needs of a household. I love how innovative crocheters find uses for this craft.

A sense of the past informing the future is what we aim to capture in Interweave Crochet. You'll find fashion-forward designs that you can use for years. It's both practical and beautiful, and all of it builds on the crochet techniques used by Thelma and her crocheting peers of the past.

                     Best, 

                               Marcy

P.S. I'm seeking out the true history of this flyswatter and will let you know when I learn more! 

If you'd like Traditions Today delivered directly to your inbox, simply provide your email address at needleworktraditionstoday.com


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on Sep 5, 2011 12:04 AM

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on Sep 1, 2011 7:57 AM

The fly swatter! What a great idea for a house-warming gift, of course, hand-made by you for your friend who's embarking on a new life as a homeowner. Everyone needs at least one fly swatter in their home...for those days when an annoying fly just won't leave you be. Now this time of year though, the flies seems to die, especially when the first frost hits. Mustn't think about that just yet. It's still summer and I'm wearing my white Mary Janes. Yes, I am!