Cow Blanket

Kate Clayton(Granny) Donaldson

Kate Clayton (Granny) Donaldson (1864-1960) was a regional artist in the1920's and 1930's.  Her choice of media tended to be mixed, although she is most well known for her textiles using wool and crochet. In particular her cow blankets have achieved large notoriety.  She created her first cow blanket in 1929 when a neighbor left a baby blanket at her house.  Donaldson thought that it would be nice to applique crocheted animals onto the blanket.  A member of the Southern Highlanders  Handicraft Guild saw the blanket and encouraged Donaldson to make more.  The blankets are meant to be hung on the wall and usually consist of a crocheted man, woman, boy, and girl, with a flower pot, various animals, and a tree of life appliqued onto a homespun or linen background. Many parallels have been made between the cow blankets of Granny Donaldson and the Po Valley fashion blankets made by women in Italy.  In Italy, the blankets are used to proclaim the spirit of life and are worn by cows during festivals.  Donaldson never heard of the Italian cow blankets and says that she didn't own a cow when she began her first blanket, although rumors still remain that she copied the Italian blankets for her cow, Bessie.Her textile pieces were sold world-wide in the 1920's and 1930's.

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