Connected by Color

Karen Brock Jan 16, 2015 - 3 min read

Connected by Color Primary Image

Delicate shell-motif lace from the New-York Tribune weekly edition, November 11, 1879, chosen by Mary Lycan for the lace that Laura knitted for Mary's petticoat in The Long Winter. Photo by Joe Coca.

I love the PieceWork phrase “connected by thread” and have had that truth shown to me again and again through all of my correspondence with PieceWork’s readers and contributors. In working on our now-available July/August issue, I have decided that we are connected also by color.

We devoted this issue to the color blue and to discovering what needlework traditions in various cultures around the world have developed because of an association with blue. While the symbolism of blue has varied across time and geography—fidelity and virtue, servitude, nobility, evil, prosperity, and more—it survives worldwide as a highly desirable hue to enrich and embellish our textiles.

Fatoumata Babaji dyes indigo in Ende, Mali. Photograph by Cynthia LeCount

Whether we create round balls of indigo paste on a steep plateau of West Africa; pluck woad plant leaves in the fields near Coventry, England; or embroider motifs in hand-dyed blue thread in China, we all yearn for blue. Join the remarkable PieceWork travel guides on their blue world tour:

Cynthia Le Count traces the practice of indigo dyeing from several centuries ago to today, introducing you to tried-and-true dyeing techniques as well as contemporary textile artists working with indigo.

Ava Coleman takes you to the American Southwest and a Hopi Rain Ceremony where the dancers are adorned in blue knitted leggings.

Joanne Watson escorts you to her hometown of Coventry, England, to learn the history of Coventry blue and glimpses of Lady Godiva.

Sue Lenthe journeys to ancient central and northern China to discover the blue-thread embroidery and a wealth of symbolic motifs.

Joanne Watson's knitted and fulled Coventry blue cap.

As always, accompanying the fascinating historical articles are projects for you to create yourself. You’ll find instructions for a stitch-resist indigo-dyed scarf, Egyptian socks to knit, a stunning Russian men’s scarf to knit, a fulled cap, and more. As a special addition to this issue, we’ve included Donna Druchunas’s Victorian sock challenge initiated in our January/February 2012 Historical Knitting issue. Donna reveals to readers her take on the 1845 sock instructions, as do several intrepid readers who took us up on the challenge. Be connected, by thread and by color. Subscribe to PieceWork today. <