Interview: Jeane Hutchins, PieceWork Magazine Editor

In honor of the annual PieceWork Lace issue, LaceNews is delighted to interview Jeane Hutchins who has been the magazine’s editor since June 1998. The May/June 2014 7th Lace issue mails to subscribers and will be available for digital download in the Needlework Traditions Shop at www.interweavestore.com/needlework on April 17; the Zinio digital edition goes lives on April 23; and the issue will be available for the iPad in the Apple Newsstand on April 25.

LaceNews: Thanks so much for talking with LaceNews.  PieceWork’s annual Lace issue is always a treat for the handmade lace community.  Can you give us an idea of what will be featured in the May/June Issue?
Jeane:   Our 7th annual issue devoted to lace explores lace traditions—knitted, crocheted, tatted (both needle and shuttle), needle, and bobbin—from England, Ireland, Italy, Russia, India, America, and Japan. Isabella Campagnol’s “Invisible Lacemakers” takes readers to Venetian monasteries in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, where nuns (and even some repenting prostitutes) produced exquisite lace. Christopher Phillips discusses Queen Victoria’s love of all forms of lace in “Victoria’s Passion.” Barbara Foster shares her passion for needle tatting, and Jennifer Jenkins explores bobbin lace in the Basel Mission in India between 1839 and 1914. These are just  the tip of the iceberg!

LaceNews: Can you tell us about the history of PieceWork, your focus, your audience, and why you decided to devote one issue a year to lace?  How would one go about proposing an article to your publication?
Jeane:  PieceWork celebrated its 20th anniversary with the September/October 2013 issue. Interweave’s founder, Linda Ligon, started PieceWork for those who value the past and present roles of handwork in the ongoing human story. To bring our readers compelling and informative articles about the history of needlework along with projects utilizing those skills has been and continues to be PieceWork’s mission. Over the years, we’ve explored needlework traditions and needleworkers from around the globe and across the centuries from the esoteric (Pearly Kings and Queens of England) and poignant (Sock Knitters of Sobibor) to the entertaining (Rattlesnake Kate) and inspiring (Marian Anderson’s Bobbin Lace Coverlet). Since 1993, lace has been covered in about 200 articles and projects, and two issues devoted to lace (January/February 2001 and July/August 2005) predate the launching of our annual special issues. Our lace issues are one of our most popular issues year in and year out. We are already planning the 8th annual issue for May/June 2015.  The deadline for proposals for that issue is September 10; our contributor guidelines are available at pieceworkmagazine.com; click on Submissions in the list at left. We welcome submissions!

LaceNews:  Please tell us a little about yourself, and some of your staff who might be involved with the lace articles.
Jeane: Putting any issue of PieceWork together is a true team effort (there are so many pieces of the puzzle that have to fit together). The PieceWork editorial staff consists of me (editor), Karen Brock (managing editor), and Abbi Byrd (editorial assistant). We share a passion for the rich history of needlework and its importance in the ongoing story. Each year, the team produces 6 issues of PieceWork, 3 special issues (newsstand-only knitting publications), 12-13 eBooks (knitting, crochet, tatting; we’re especially pleased that the lineup this year will include Honiton lace!), 1 or 2 DVD workshops, and a weekly eNewsletter for PieceWork’s online community, Needlework Traditions. Lots of moving parts!

LaceNews: Lacemakers are in a perpetual argument about exactly what constitutes ‘lace’.  Some hold only to the traditional European bobbin and needle lace techniques as somehow being ‘true laces’, while everything else such as tatting, crochet, knitting, etc, are considered ‘crafts’.  And many working in the latter category have never even been exposed to of bobbin or needlelace techniques, and are perfectly happy with what they do. In the contemporary art world, there is also often an outcry when ‘lacey’ looking entries with no textile basis at all appear.  How do you define the term ‘lace’?
Jeane: We include needle, bobbin, cutwork, tatting, crochet, and knitting in the lace category. Our readers enjoy learning about multiple crafts, whether they practice them or not. Each Lace issue exposes them to a wide variety.

LaceNews: All of journalism is struggling with the new digital age.  How is PieceWork adapting to this reality?  Is your audience still comfortable with a printed periodical?
Jeane: PieceWork is invested in both digital and print. We’re very fortunate that needleworkers embrace our unique perspective on the historical aspects of the variety of needlework that we cover, regardless of how it’s delivered. Both digital and print are growth areas for us. While PieceWork viewed on an iPad is absolutely brilliant (love “pinch and zoom”!), there is something near and dear to my heart to be able to physically turn the printed pages. The key is providing the right balance for our readers.

LaceNews:  How do you think we can best get  young people involved in the textile arts?
Jeane:  All agree that engaging young people in needlework is critical.  We need strategies to engage a younger audience, but there are numerous obstacles—the older generation not passing down the techniques; competing for time with entities such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter; little or no instruction in the needle arts offered in schools. We do know, however, that there is interest particularly in embroidery and knitting. We have plans to produce a DVD for 2015 with an avid and proficient 12-year-old embroiderer, who stitched a project for us for the November/December 2013 issue. Regardless of how digitally attuned the younger generation may be, getting a needle and thread, needles or hooks and yarn, or bobbins and prickings into their hands is key.  Exposing young people to the value of and reward from engaging in handwork needs to be a group effort by all involved in needlework.

LaceNews:  Thanks so much for your time and insight. We all look forward to the 7th Lace issue, in any of the forms it comes!
Jeane: Our pleasure, and we would love any feedback on this issue. Just email us at piecework@interweave.com.

Jeane-Hutchins   PW May June 14 (2)

 

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