Fresh Designs Crochet: inspiration board (Home)

Posted on by MK Carroll

Last year, I bought all 4 seasons of Mad Men and watched them repeatedly. I'd sit down with my laptop and a knit or crochet project and look for all the knit and crochet pieces in the episodes. I even have a spreadsheet detailing some of the pieces with the scenes and episodes they appear in (some come up repeatedly, like Peggy's scrapghan, and Betty's scrapghan - which are similar yet very different), and working out how the items may have been intended in the storytelling. Which is to say, I made up stories about a story.

Peggy's scrapghan, for example, which I included in the Fresh Designs Crochet: Home inspiration boards. What I saw was that Peggy's mother (and probably her sister too) were accomplished crocheters who made neat, tidy, sensible items like dishtowels and afghans (there's one afghan in particular that is visible in almost every scene that takes place in her sister's apartment). Peggy, however, learned to crochet enough to be able to make this rather messy, lumpy blanket that she loves and has taken with her from apartment to apartment. It's her comfort blankie. Betty has a very similar afghan that is basically the same, using yarn scraps in a shell-based pattern, but hers has very neat and even work, with stripes that look more planned out. She kept it, even when she went from being Betty Draper to being Betty Draper Francis. Betty was clinging to something too - the scrapghan still fits in with the Draper household in Season 1, but as Betty's social status rose and the rest of the home decor became more upscale, that scrapghan looked more and more out of place.

Anna Draper, on the other side of the continent, had a cream-colored crochet afghan with cross-stitched roses on them. Anna was surrounded by flowers - her garden, her decor, her clothes - but since her personal choices leaned more towards orangy-pink tropicals, I think her sister, Patty, may have made this blanket and given it to Anna. I bet Patty also knit Stephanie's fine-gauge cabled sweater, which Stephanie wore often but certainly not in the classic, demure way Patty probably hoped for.

I may be the only person who will be glued to the new episodes next year, hoping for a glimpse of these crocheted blankets.

The photo of a kitchen included in the inspiration boards isn't my kitchen, although it is similar to the one in a house I lived in recently. It was a small strip of space - sink, short counter, fridge, a shelf over the sink and counter, and a pantry made out of a cheap particleboard bookshelf. The door to the bathroom was right next to the sink. It was the kind of kitchen that does not get featured in a shiny magazine, unless it's the "before" of an extensive (and expensive) home remodeling project. The kind of kitchen that is a little too shabby to be shabby-chic. The kind of kitchen a lot of us have, right? I crocheted some things to brighten and love up that kitchen space, and I'm curious to see what other people would do in a similar space.

Overall, with the Home inspiration boards, I was thinking about everyday, ordinary life. What do we already have in our homes that we see every day, maybe so often that we don't really see them anymore? What are practical items that could be made beautiful without losing any practicality?

The Fresh Designs Crochet call for submissions is open until June 11; guidelines and form are available from Cooperative Press.