Doilies and the Importance of Stories

By Suzann Thompson

The Celebrate Doilies exhibit is at The Jung Center, through January 30, 2018, at 5200 Montrose, Houston, TX.

Find the story of the wall hanging, A Worthy Accomplishment, at

Have you noticed that words of textiles are also words of story?  In elementary school, when our class studied tall tales, I was pleased to learn that tall tales are also called “yarns.” We talk about crochet thread, as well as the thread of a story. We may weave a placemat one day, and weave a plot another day.  Storytellers spin tales.

Let me spin you a tale about doilies.

When people know that you knit or crochet, they often tell you about their own needlework adventures or about their family heirloom knitting and crochet.

This happens to me a lot, and a few years ago, I started noticing a pattern. An unusual (to me) number of people told me about the drawers and boxes full of doilies they inherited from their mothers, grandmothers, and other relatives and friends.

Doilies, those pretty creations of thread, connected people to the past, to shared memories, to loved ones who had long since moved away or died.  I started documenting these connections by interviewing people and photographing their heirloom doilies.  (Read some of their stories at  The resulting doily heritage posters were an important addition to “Celebrate Doilies,” my textile art exhibit.

Along the way, I met Sandi Horton, whose poetry about her family doilies and other doily-related subjects joined my wall hangings and the doily heritage posters to complete the Celebrate Doilies exhibit.

Sandi and I shared an admiration for the psychiatrist Carl Jung, who explored the transformative nature of mandalas, which are circular drawings or constructions usually meant to represent the universe. We all know about the enormous universe around us, but most of us also live in a private universe in our minds, or within our close-knit family and friend groups.  We wrote about how doilies can be considered mandalas, here:

Think about making a doily, working in the round, where each round has its own pattern, and contributes to an overall pattern.  Celebrate Doilies has just completed a very important round.  The exhibit has arrived in the gallery at The Jung Center in Houston, Texas.  Wall hangings, doily heritage posters, and poems are on display through January 30, 2019.  Sandi and I will present “Crocheted Connections: Weaving Our Story,” 5:45-7:15 p.m. on Wednesday, January 30.  Details at

Now it’s your turn to pick up the thread of this yarn.  What is the story behind your current knitting or crochet project?  How does this project fit into the overall pattern of your craft, your skill, your life?  How will your knitting or crocheting story continue?  Tell your story to family and friends, write it down and take pictures for social media, a blog, or the Center for Knit and Crochet archives.

Someone, someday will be glad to know your story.  One person may be glad to know there’s someone else like them in this world.  Another person will be inspired to make projects like you made.  Some will be interested in the thoughts and circumstances of knitters and crocheters of the past, and one of those interested persons, down the road, might be you.