1970s Crochet Designer Mark Dittrick: All About His Work
by Kelsey Mlnarik
I’ve mentioned Mark Dittrick before because he’s the author of a vintage crochet book I adore, Hard Crochet. I thought it would be fun to explore a little bit more about this designer.
Mark Dittrick was a leading crochet designer in the 1970s, bringing new types of crochet to the scene. There have been a lot of advances and changes in crochet since the 1970s, and now tapestry crochet, or “hard crochet,” as he called it, is a more common technique. At the time, though, Dittrick’s techniques for creating stiff crocheted fabric opened up a whole new world of crocheted items.
Below you can see a couple of items that can be made using the patterns and techniques in Hard Crochet.
Dittrick’s work was featured in the books of others and he authored and edited books as well. He met and married another crochet artist, Diane Kender. Together, they went on to author non-crochet books and then moved into the world of environmental science. How’s that for an exciting and well-rounded life?
Below, you can see some of the books that Dittrick authored or edited. While crochet patterns are easy to access online today, these books can still be such a great resource for learning about the craft, especially if you love vintage fashion!
I first saw Dittrick's work in his own book, Hard Crochet. However, I later saw that he was featured in Creative Crochet, a top crochet resource from the 1970s that was written six years before Dittrick's own book. Dittrick only has one item featured in Creative Crochet, a hard crochet hat, which is something he ultimately became well known for. Creative Crochet says, “to make the tight stitches he says you have to put band-aids on your fingers and masking tape on your hook to avoid blisters”. That was the early days of hard crochet, an early version of what came to be known as tapestry crochet. We have better tools today so band-aids and masking tape are no longer necessary!
In 1978 Mark Dittrick authored Hard Crochet, a book all about a new type of crochet, which turned out to be what we know today as tapestry crochet. It's a terrific early resource that shows how things were changing a lot in crochet around this time thanks to new yarns, new techniques, and new technology.
We see lots of Dittrick's unique work in Hard Crochet including his signature crochet cowboy hats, a crochet tie, and a cute crochet heart that suggests a softer side to this Hard Crocheter!
Also in 1978, Dittrick was named as the editor of two books published by Hawthorne Books: Design Crochet and Design Knitting. These books feature patterns and designs by designers who were fashionable in their era- definitely worth checking out if you're a fan of vintage 1970s fashion!
Mark Dittrick actually wrote Hard Crochet after co-authoring another crochet book, Contemporary Crochet, with Susan Morrow. Contemporary Crochet was actually written in 1972, the same year as Edson and Stimmel's book, Creative Crochet. The book actually has one of Dittrick's early hats right on the cover, which gives you an excellent example of his style! Dittrick references this book in Hard Crochet, mentioning that there were a few examples of the tighter “hard crochet” amidst a bunch of patterns for the crochet vests and scarves that were popular at that time.
Mark Dittrick also co-authored a couple of books with Diane Kender. Diane had work featured in Hard Crochet. The two later married, and in 1982 they co-authored the book Decorative Hardware, which takes a departure from crochet but stays in the crafting world. They also later co-authored two books about writing.