Esther Ajayi: Chicago Stitches Exhibit at Harold Washington Library Center

In fall 2022, Maker-in-Residence Esther Ajayi led six workshops in which patrons learned to crochet, a classic and versatile craft. If you missed her classes, you can check out Maker Lab instruction slides: Crochet 101, Crochet 102 and Crochet 103. Her work The Chicago Stitches is on view on State Street south of the main entrance of Harold Washington Library Center through March 2023. 

Ajayi's guest blog below shares her experience collaborating with patrons to learn more about Chicago and develop her final project, a 6' by 3' tapestry.

The Chicago Stitches

By Esther Ajayi

Chicago is a vast majority of different cultures, events, and ideas that I wanted to represent in my crochet work. Beginning this project, I honestly didn’t know what I wanted to do but I did plan on creating something with granny squares and a graphagan, crochet designs, what would represent Chicago.

I ended up making a tapestry because of how easy it would be to display all the different projects. I included my classes' granny squares within the tapestry since they were the ones who really helped me learn the different areas of Chicago and showed me the different personalities that Chicago has. It was an absolute delight to be their crochet teacher and I feel like I made some solid friends along the way!

I tried to come up with colors that represent Chicago: red, blue, white, grey, yellow, green, brown, and turquoise, each color representing a symbol within Chicago.

Red is the stars on the flag, blue is the sky from the skyline, white being from the flag, grey is the multiple skyscrapers and buildings in Chi, yellow are the night lights, green is the grass on a spring day, brown being the rustic nature of Chicago, and turquoise being the wonderful lake.

If you can find them within the piece, you will see: the national flower, a violet; the national fruit, an apple; the national insect, monarch butterfly; the famous Chicago fire; Cloud Gate aka The Bean; Lake Michigan; the Sox; the Cubs; and the amazing Chicago Public Library insignia! 

The Maker-in-Residence is generously funded by the Chicago Public Library Foundation.