“Apron Lady” Sheila Craig brought her program “Remembering the Apron” to the Knoxville Public Library as part of the Lifelong Learning series.
The program, which was held June 24, featured over 100 aprons of various fabrics, shapes, styles and colors. Throughout the program, Craig provided a brief history of aprons and their use, while also sharing personal stories and memories of aprons in her family.
While Craig has over 400 aprons in her personal collection, she showcases the same 100 aprons while traveling with her program. Some of the aprons belonged to Craig’s mother, mother-in-law, friends and even to Craig herself during her childhood. Others were provided by churches, local clubs or organizations, or purchases at antique stores.
“Some of these aprons have ways of jumping into my cart,” Craig shared during the program.
A Decorah native, Craig moved to Minnesota over 40 years ago and worked as a Minnesota Extension Educator. She began her program after retiring in 2005 and has done over 60 since then. Craig has 10 upcoming programs scheduled throughout Iowa in the upcoming weeks.
Throughout the program, Craig shared a wide variety of aprons, including those made of fabrics such as flour sacks, cotton, seersucker, organdy, taffeta, dishcloths, terrycloth and handkerchiefs. She stated that while some aprons in her collection were more practical, others were less useful but more fun.
Other aprons in Craig’s collection were used to hold clothespins, eggs, or produce grown in the garden. Others had been crocheted by hand, worn by children, or used by waitresses for weddings. Craig also had aprons that had been worn by men, such as those used by welders, or in hardware stores and lumberyards.
“Remembering the Apron” is an interactive program. Craig asked the audience questions throughout, while also taking the time to answer any questions they may have. She also utilized audience members to display some of the multiple taffeta aprons she brought along.
At the end of the program, Craig encouraged audience members to take an up-close look at her aprons. She also spoke with many of those in attendance to hear the stories they told about memories of aprons in their families.
“The best part is getting to meet all the people and hearing their stories about reminiscing with their families,” Craig said. She encouraged those in the audience to write down the stories about their personal aprons to share with future generations.