Jo Eaton, Artist Statement:
Crocheting allows a freedom of design that I find nowhere else. I start with a single thread and create a human version of a spider’s web. Just like the spider, I take the hook and a single strand of fiber and make hats (sometimes scarves, pins, or socks) that are a delight to both sight and touch. The structure of crochet allows me to do free form design within the structure of the hat and also in flowing patterns embellished in the same or contrasting colors on the hat.
Beautiful yarns allow me to celebrate the colors of my life in Maine in hats that delight, entertain and warm the people that wear them. Our winters are long and gray; my intent is to bring smiles to peoples faces and gardens to the streets. It is really fun to be in one of the communities where people have really embraced my hats and you see the bright colored flowers walking down the street in a snowstorm (this happened a couple of days ago as I was telling my hairdresser about the hats and a grey chenille with yellow tulips and green leaves walked past her window).
I love the yarns as much as making the hats and consider finding what I need to work with a discovery process. I go to mills, yarn shops, shop online, and go to the Common Ground Fair in Maine each year that is hosted by the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Assoc. They have a whole forty by one-hundred foot tent dedicated to just raw fleece. My favorite fleeces come from Joe and Judy Miller who imported Australian sheep of a variety of lustrous colors. I love their subtle grays, creams, and light browns. Another fleece that I favored came from a sheep that used to be at Woodstock Farm in Hampden, Maine, his name was Robert. He had a very long silky fleece that spun easily and created a pure white yarn with a luscious soft sheen that also took dyes beautifully.
Fiber History: I sold crocheted floppy hippy hats and matching shoulder bags in Rockland, Maine in the early 1970’s and have sold hats at small craft shows and a limited number of shops since then.
I come from a long line of what we now call fiber artists or traditional crafters. I have slept under family quilts most of my life. Throughout time, my family has sewn, crocheted, knit, and quilted their clothing and bedding. My paternal grandmother was exceptionally quick and would sit at the table reading and knit socks for the family with her hands under the table out of her sight. It was this story that my father would repeat that inspired me to learn to crochet in the dark. I lived thirty-seven miles from the nearest city and found that travel time to be a waste when I had so many ideas in my head. My husband would drive and I would work on my projects, day or night. I learned to crochet by feel and am able to do it with only occasional visual checks of my work – this of course applies to my simpler designs, while more detailed designs require close attention. When I am at shows I am always crocheting, after talking with me for few minutes people realize I am working as I speak with them. They are always surprised. This matter-of-fact employment of my skill is similar to what you find with many knitters from Ireland who would knit as they went to the fields to collect the cattle or on their walks to the village for supplies or church services.
My maternal grandmother sewed during the depression recycling continuously and creating her own patterns. My mother, on the other hand, is an exacting seamstress, quilter, knitter following complicated patterns. I have seen her rip out the nearly completed back of a fisherman sweater for an nearly invisible mistake near the hem— that no one else would ever notice-- she wants it perfect and if it isn’t, well—start over. I on the other hand often find that a bump in my work is something to be repeated or explored in order to add new definition to my crocheting.
Sometimes I see the finished hat ahead of time, or have the desire to create a hat with a specific flower type. Other times I create the base hat getting the feel for the yarn and decide the final direction as I am working. I often start out with one idea but allow the yarn to take me where it wishes to go. I have found that if I try to impose myself on the direction of the yarn, I often end up ripping back several times and never getting a suitable product. Since my hats are called No Repeats, because that’s what they are, and I want to showcase the yarns in the best possible manner, I allow the yarn to lead the design process. I may start to make a cap and find that the material is better suited to a beret or a brim hat. Once I have a feel for how a particular yarn works, I do a whole series using that particular yarn. When I do a series run it can be a particular color flow, last November I did a major series in all red tones producing about fifty hats in that group. Other times I will do a flower series producing roses, iris, tulips, and gardens in a variety of fibers.
I love nature, flowers, gardens, lakes, rivers, and colors of Maine. This is reflected in my hats that range from simple caps to flower hats to detailed mountain or island landscapes. I only made hats from commercial yarns until the early nineties, then a group of women formed a spinning group in north/central Maine in Piscataquis County. I purchased their yarns and immediately upgraded the design and pricing of my hats. Within a year, I began dying and spinning some of my own yarn. I also blend many different types of fibers together of fiber to get specific effects. When washed in cold water with shampoo, the hats are lasting well over 14 years. I have had one report that a young man did wear out a handspun hat that he wore every day for 15 years. His mother bought him another one that was very similar.
* Mother and Grandmother
*Registered Maine Guide
*Beginning Website Maker!!
2002 Masters in Ecology and Environmental Science, UMO
1993 Bachelors in Sociology, UMO
1973 Associates in Med Lab, EMTC
1967 Foxcroft Academy
Fiber Arts Education
Fiber Arts Education
Traditional Artist means I was trained at the hands of my family, my mother and my aunt plus the many other creative family members. . Traditional arts begin well before one ever touches the materials and starts the process of building something. Long before one ois conscious of the creative process, it begins to filter in as sone snuggles under a quilt made by a paternal grandmother. The soft sage background for a colorful Star of Texas quilt warmed me through my growing years, then as a preteen I found a tablecloth embroidered by my maternal grandmother, I claimed this for my top sheet. Sleeping beneather my grandmothers allowed the essence of their creativity to being to tell me that this is what must be done. Life must be created and life is what comprises all of that which is around us. Stories unfold around us, filling our ears and being with the knowledge of creation and making your world work for you, of finding the freedom of creating and making your way as have those in your family before you.