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Tennyson Library of Crochet

Wednesday, July 16, 2014-For an update on this exhibit, Knot Forgotten, and my visit to the University of Illinois to see it on July 15, scroll below.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

The University of Illinois has ushered crochet into the world of academia! This is a rare opportunity for crocheters in Illinois and anyone else who might be nearby Champaign/Urbana during July. I plan to check it out and it looks like a very interesting event. To read the story of the man who donated and cataloged his great-grandmother's collection, see the website.
Knot Forgotten: The Tennyson Library of Crochet at Illinois

July 1-31, 2014

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Main Library (1408 W. Gregory Drive, Urbana, IL)
Join the Rare Book & Manuscript Library at Illinois as it celebrates the acquisition of the Tennyson Library of Crochet. There will be an exhibit on the first floor and in the Marshall Gallery of the Main Library, in addition to a variety of great events. 
*Crochet and Kvetch on Wednesday, July 9 at 3:00pm in the 4th floor staff lounge.
*Lunchtime exhibit tours on July 15 and July 24 from 12:00pm-1:00pm.
*The statues in front of the Library will be dressed to impress in crocheted attire during the month of July.
*Knot Forgotten Extravaganza Friday, July 18.
-Crochet class for children (age 8 and above, 8 children total) from 10:00am-11:00am in the Marshall Gallery.
-Crochet class for adults from 2:00pm-3:00pm in the Marshall Gallery.
-Reception, including ugly sweater contest, from 3:00pm-5:00pm in the Marshall Gallery.
July 16, 2014: Update


Murphey and Me
It was indeed a pleasure and well worth the 2 1/2 hour trip to Urbana, IL for me to participate in the Knot Forgotten: The Tennyson Library of Crochet at Illinois lunchtime exhibit tour yesterday.

If you are wondering what "Murphey" has to do with all of this, well it is like this...She is a loyal Courtesan in my Fan Group on Ravelry. She planning a trip for a family reunion from Kansas City to North Carolina, and when she read my post about this exhibit on June 12, she decided to plan her route to be able to be there. I, coincidentally had thought July 15 would be a good day for me to be there too, so we made plans to hook up and meet each other in person! Crocheters are like that: nice people and fast friends!

Gilbert Witte, a long time employee of the University of Illinois Library has donated a  collection of crochet books and pamphlets, plus ephemera, which documents the history and practice of the craft. Named after Witte's great-granmother, Flora Emily Tennyson, the Rare Book and Manuscript Library will house the collection.

Gilbert Witte
Reading about this collection is just not the same as actually seeing it. Gil is an avid collector and began to collect crochet literature when he received some from his great-granmother. From there he has spent about twenty years adding to this collection with purchases from EBay and elsewhere.

To celebrate the acquisition of the collection, the library is sponsoring related activities throughout the month July. Most interesting to me was the timeline created by Gil using scanned covers from magazines in his collection, starting with his earliest that dates 1840. The wall at the entrance to the library is lined with color images of these covers in chronological order and the changes in crochet and in fashion are so evident as one views the timeline. I was thrilled to see that the last photo chosen, representing modern crochet art, was art by Nathan Vincent who happens to be included in one of the chapters of my book, The Fine Art of Crochet!

Carole, Witte and Me
Displayed in cases were many examples of crochet, crochet hooks and books and other things of interest to crocheters or needleworkers in general. Is anything you see here in your collection as well?

Antique hooks: vintage to modern
A very old hook set with interchangeable hooks
The small case that holds the interchangeable hooks
A collectible metal jar with image of a crocheter
As a part of the month-long festivities, the University granted permission for two statues at the entrance of the library, "Daughters of Pyrrha," to be yarn-bombed. Designed by Urbana resident, Rachel Suntop, who loves crochet, they are exquisite and artful. Rachel explains her inspiration, “I chose to adorn each of the sculptures differently. The northern sculpture uses a natural hemp yarn that is loosely crocheted to show the airy and free form structure of the material. In contrast, I created a tightly crocheted fabric with the undyed cotton yarn for the southern sculpture. Done on a much smaller scale, it has a more structured, intricate and delicate look. Elements of unpredictability, such as rain, wind, the natural aging of the material and human interaction will add a further element of surprise.”


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Anyone is most welcome to visit the Tennyson Library of Crochet at any time and review any of the books in the collection. They may not be removed from the library. Contact Michelle Yestrepsky, Administrative and Program Assistant. To find a list of holding in the Library's catalog, then clickon Library Catalog and search by author, Tennyson Library of Crochet.

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