North Carolinians have many customs of German origin, ranging from how we build churches to the side dishes we serve at barbecues, but most of these traditions have been passed down through so many generations that we often forget their source. Rita de Maintenon, a first-generation North Carolinian who lives in Henderson County, is a folk artist in a tradition that she learned not through the filter of long-ago immigrant ancestors, but during her own childhood in Frankfurt.
De Maintenon crochets, knits, quilts, and embroiders with techniques in which she was trained assiduously by her mother and grandmother. Among her methods are broomstick-and-hairpin crochet, Irish crochet, and old German styles of embroidery. The North Carolina Journal for Women reported glowingly about de Maintenon’s “ability to recreate vintage patterns with near-extinct techniques.” For her application to the Southern Highland Craft Guild, she designed and crocheted a “Royal Baby Welcome Sampler,” including some of her specialties, a baby sweater and crocheted toys. She was admitted into the Guild upon this first application.
While de Maintenon makes many different kinds of crocheted items, her specialty is making christening gowns, sweaters, soft balls and blocks, and other gifts for babies.
Rita de Maintenon offers workshops at her studio in Fletcher (south Asheville) and classes and workshops in the Asheville area.