31 August 2014

Tammis Keefe and Coats and Clark

A gallery of Keefe designs.

Thanks to the efforts of my stalwart DH, we've added over 50 handkerchief designs to the Tammis Keefe website, as well as towels, placemats and more furnishing fabrics.

Gold metallic ink remains lustrous in this unlaundered hankie.

I was fortunate enough to acquire a group of hankies which an expert needleworker, with a good eye for color,  personalized with tatted edgings. Tatting is a form of lace-making, using a special shuttle and thread.  Since some of these items retain their original sticker, it seems they were treasured not for their function, but as objects of delight in and of themselves. Three are featured in this post; as always click on the image to enlarge.

The needlewoman accentuated the orange motifs with her colored edging.

The bright aqua edging is just perfect.

Centerspread of 1955 Edgings booklet.

Coats and Clark, the venerable textile company founded in Scotland in 1812, published many pattern books with designs for their line of crochet cotton, which came in a wide variety of colors, such as Chartreuse Green, Hunter's Green and more imaginatively, Killarney, Mandarin Rust, Limefruit, and Devil Red. The instructional booklet above is from 1955, and has a Keefe hankie in the lower right-hand corner. (The two print hankies on the center crease were designed by Keefe's friend Betty Anderson.)

To celebrate its 200th birthday in 2012, Coats and Clark, now owned by the same conglomerate which absorbed Rowan Yarn and FreeSpirit fabrics, created an informative website chronicling the firm's industrial history. In addition, stitchers have shared their stories of sewing, and making things generally, on the website.

So, Keefe's art pops up in a wide variety of places.  Her fabrics are featured in the Museum of Modern Art's Good Design exhibitions in the late 1940's - 1950's; at the same time the publicity department of a huge thread company features her work in crochet booklets.  This inclusion in such disparate venues - cutting across boundaries of class and status -  exemplifies Keefe's broad and enduring appeal.