With its vibrant, geometric designs, the huck towel is a colorful icon of mid-twentieth-century kitchens. In the March/April 2016 issue of PieceWork, Mary Polityka Bush explores the evolution of these popular towels and shares a pattern to make one of your own, which will add a dash of retro flair to your kitchen. Here’s Mary with more:
A little pearl cotton goes a long way in brightening a plain white huck towel, not to mention any kitchen in which it is displayed. The sunny yellows melting into pumpkin tones in the one shown here will be right at home in a country kitchen. Stitch the design in a sophisticated palette of grays zapped with lime or dusty violet for a contemporary stainless-and-granite kitchen. Going retro? Aqua and buttercream sweetened with cherry will reprise the chrome dinette look of the 1940s.
Huck embroidery is a natural for kitchen and table linens because it is worked entirely on the fabric’s surface, which means there are no unsightly tails, traveling threads, or backs of stitches to necessitate a lining. Although stitching with pearl cotton requires a certain level of skill to maintain an even twist and to smoothly lay strands of the thread, huck embroidery is easy, relatively quick, and ideal for gifts. If a towel is not on the recipient’s wish list, edge a placemat or apron bib and hem with this design, mirror it the length of a table runner, or wrap it around a tote bag.
Mary Polityka Bush, a designer, writer, instructor, and frequent PieceWork contributor, was introduced to huck embroidery thirty years ago when her mother, Jean Polityka, gave her the set of Mildred V. Kreig booklets that had inspired Jean to embroider towels for the Polityka family’s home in Allegan, Michigan. Equally inspired, Mary went on to create many of her own huck-embroidery designs, not only for towels, but for table, kitchen and bed linens, greeting cards, Christmas ornaments, garments, and decorative household and gift items.
Download your copy of the March/April 2016 issue of PieceWork to make Mary’s charming huck towel and read her article, “Embroidered Huck Towels: A Feast for the Eyes.” To learn more about embroidery stitches, read our A Stitch in Time blog series.