Sharron Hedges was another prolific crochet designer in the 1970s. She was a leader in the wearable art movement of that era and she continues to work in wearable art to this day, although where she’s really made her mark in recent years is in the development of stunning prints for use in wearable as well as paper goods and home decor items.
Sharron Hedges in Creative Crochet
I personally first saw Sharron’s work in my go-to 1970s crochet resource, Creative Crochet by Nicki Hitz Edson and Arlene Stimmel. This book is the ultimate resource on the group of New York designers who were all kind of working together in the early 1970s to break barriers in what crochet could be. Even in this early book, Hedges was making wonderful creations in the wearable art category. My personal favorite from this book is her Medieval Blouse, which is crocheted wool with a jersey lining:
What I love about this piece, besides the obvious great color and design, is the combination of those great warrior arms with the fitted, belly-baring 1970s shape of the body of the blouse. Julie Schafler Dale captured this in Art to Wear when she wrote, “While Sharron’s work is ephemeral and fluid, it is also demanding and firm.” There are several other examples of Hedges’ work in this book and I definitely recommend getting your hands on a copy to see them all but I can’t leave this section without mentioning one more specifically, and that’s her Cloud Coat:
I shared this coat for a few reasons. First, it has that same warrior strong but feminine shape that I love from Hedges. Second, I think the colors are great. Third, I think it’s an interesting piece because the book tells me that the clouds are brushed mohair while the rest is wool that was mostly dyed using natural vegetable dyes. Finally, I share this piece because, as you’ll see, Sharron really made a name for herself over time with her amazing crochet coats and this is an early example of one.
A Note on Stitch Names
I have to interrupt myself here to say that another one of the things that I love about these 1970s crochet books is that they share stitches that had different names then that what we call them today. For example, there is a wool hat by Hedges in Creative Crochet that is made with “hazelnut stitch” and “shrimp stitch”. My research tells me that what was called shrimp stitch back then is what most of us now call crab stitch or just reverse single crochet. And it was harder to figure out hazelnut stitch but I ended up finding directions for it in Del Feldman’s Crochet: Discovery and Design and it appears that it’s a variation on the bobble stitch.
Fun Fact: In Del Feldman’s directions from the just-mentioned book, she doesn’t use the term yarn over (YO) but instead uses wind round hook (WRH).
Sharron Hedges in Crochet: Discovery and Design
Speaking of that Del Feldman book, Sharron Hedges’ work makes an appearance there as well. Here we see this beautiful crochet cape and hood, which we learn from the book was crocheted with wool, some of which was handspun as well as hand dyed. It does not say if it was dyed with vegetable dye like the Cloud Coat was.
Sharron Hedges in Art to Wear
Morpho, 1984, knit and crochet combo, wool
If Creative Crochet is my go-to resource for insight into 1970s crochet, then Art to Wear is my go-to resource from the 1980s. Sharron Hedges is profiled in this great fiber arts book and this is where we really see her come into her own with those great crochet coats that I mentioned previously. There are several shown in the book in addition to what I’ll share here, but I chose these ones because I think they best demonstrate how her amazing creations came to life on the human form.
Christine’s Coat, 1983, crocheted wool
It is from this book that I learned a lot about Sharron as a person and an artist. Some of the things I learned:
- Sharron Hedges was working in welding but wanted a medium that would allow her more ease with personal expression. She found that in 1969 with crochet, which she was introduced to by Janet Lipkin, Jean Williams Cacicdeo and Marika Contompasis (who all have work in Art to Wear as well).
- Sharron enjoyed working with the interplay of two-dimension and three-dimension that crochet offers. In other words, she liked creating a flat two-dimensional fabric with crochet then putting it on a person and seeing how it changed the work and then working back in the 2D to adapt to those changes.
- “Sharron’s most cherished muse is color itself … Color melts into color, texture is layered over texture in glimpses of magical worlds that vanish silently, reappear fleetingly, and hint at familiar images that evaporate just before recognition.” To create these unique images, which often derive from nature, Sharron thought carefully about the color of each stitch, where to change those colors and how to place different stitch colors next to one another to create the desired effect.
- Christine’s Coat (shown above) is the first work that really transitioned away from the nature-inspired imagery towards a more graphic print which is notable because prints are what Sharron ended up doing a lot of in the years to come.
- By 1984 when Hedges was working on Morpho, she was less concerned than before about the crafting of each stitch and more concerned about the layers of the work, which is why she chose to work in knitting and then use crochet to intricately add to the knit work. This is something that we see other designers of the era doing as well. For example, Arlene Stimmel went the way of doing some commercial knitwear and trying to do some knit art although she ultimately didn’t find the magic there that she had with crochet and left both behind in the end.
Sharron Hedges Today
You can find Sharron today through her website where she shares her original prints on cloth, paper, and items for the home. This site also catches us up on what she’s been doing since around the time that Art to Wear was published. She explains that she, like Stimmel, transitioned into knitwear design and production. She spent some time working in Asia but eventually moved back to New York. She started working to create prints for a variety of industries. Her most recent work includes digitally silkscreened silk and linen. Sharron also has a store on Etsy where you can see what she’s currently working on. We can see that she’s still inspired by color since her tagline for her Etsy store is “color is proof of life”. She also collaborates on beautiful print work and textiles with her daughter, Djuna da Silva, under the name Djuna Shay.