Laura Summs and her seven talented crocheters from Khayelitsha craft the hundreds of hexagonal pieces which go into each beautiful Moxy blanket. Working from their homes make it possible for the crocheters to spend time with their families and keep transport costs to a minimum. Laura tells us about her passion for crochet and the idiosyncrasies captured in each humble blanket.
My name is Laura Summs. I’m originally from Virginia, USA but have lived in South Africa for 20 years. I graduated from Smith College in Massachusetts, USA where I studied painting.
I taught myself to crochet in 2000, inspired by a book my mother gave me. I was excited by the colours and textures used in the designs. Once I started I couldn’t stop and have probably engaged in crochet work of some kind almost every day since! What I adore about crochet is the freedom it allows me in the way the fabric is created, the sheer variety of shapes I can make, from tiny intricate delicate forms, to sturdy fabric, from abstract and free form to highly geometric and structured.
I also love that crochet is sort of the poor cousin to other needle arts. I’ve always had a soft spot for the underdog and feel that crochet is utterly underrated. Knitting is more popular, we are all familiar with knitting, but knitting can be produced on a machine, whereas crochet cannot. Something crocheted can only be made by a real person, with all the individuality and idiosyncrasy that a person can bring to the work. That is a beautiful thing.
Those are some of the reasons I’m in love with crochet. Crochet is my medium. But I think that what lies beneath the technique I have chosen (because it suits my nature) is my exultation in colour and the way colours react with each other. Van Gogh spoke about ‘…the mysterious vibrations of kindred tones.’ Colour is emotion, feeling, celebration, despair, wildness, serenity, coyness, aggression. This is what I’m interested in exploring in the humble blanket.
The effort to see things without distortion takes something like courage and this courage is essential to the artist, who has to look at everything as though he saw it for the first time. (Henri Matisse)
This quote pretty much describes why I called my crochet project moxycrochet. Moxy means courage, or nerve. Crochet deserves to be looked at fresh eyes, unclouded by visions of acrylic chunky afghans in lifeless depressing colours. Thus the main item produced by moxy is a blanket which uses the very traditional method of motifs pieced together, but is fresh in that it breaks away from rigid regular patterning in favour of a riotous garden of colour, and instead of using one fibre or thread it contains four with different qualities.
Similarly the 7 ladies from Khayelitsha who form the foundation of moxycrochet, and who crochet the hundreds of motifs which make up each blaket, deserve to be recognized for the skill they practice and their perseverance in the face of lives so much more challenging than my privileged one. Crochet again provides the medium to do all these things; campaign for valuable skill of handwork, explore colour, provide enjoyable and decent employment, share skills, produce a beautiful and useful object.
Wow, so beautifully put.