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Put your aprons on
Kris Winkler and Lynn Lokken show off their apron collection, including a few made of lace, at the Albertson Memorial Library in Albany March 12. Winkler and Lokken, both of Monroe, have more than 300 aprons between them. (Times photo: Marissa Weiher)
MONROE - With their combined apron collection, friends Kris Winkler and Lynn Lokken could almost wear a different apron every day for an entire year.

Throughout the years, they have collected more than 300 aprons.

Rather than keep the aprons stored away collecting dust, Winkler and Lokken, who both live in Monroe, travel the area giving presentations about aprons. They share their collection, along with stories and historical facts, with dozens of people at a time.

"You know, it's just fun," Winkler said. "People love hearing about aprons and they're happy. They think of happy times when they think about aprons."

The two have about six presentations scheduled until May. They present at several assisted living and adult care facilities in the Madison and Monona Grove area. Lokken said the aprons help people recall memories, so the duo likes to visit memory-loss facilities as well.

Winkler and Lokken's fascination with aprons began when Lokken read "The Apron Book: Making, Wearing, and Sharing a Bit of Cloth and Comfort" by EllynAnne Geisel and passed it along to Winkler.

"It was bedtime reading when we got it," Lokken said.

In 2007, Lokken was working in the hospitality tent at the Wisconsin Farm Technology Days, a showcase for new technology in agriculture, in Albany. To help fill out the schedule, Lokken needed a program with a small budget - she decided to put on an apron show every day for three days.

"From there, the word got out," Lokken said.

Lokken and Winkler try to do presentations whenever they can. Winkler said they get a lot of requests in spurts. Sometimes they will wait days to be contacted, while at others, they will receive multiple requests in a single day.

Although they're both involved with Green County Home and Community Education, the Master Gardeners program and 4-H, Winkler and Lokken first became friends when their daughters were in 4-H together almost two decades ago.

Between the two of them, you can probably find an apron for any occasion. They have themed aprons for holidays such as Christmas, Valentine's Day, St. Patrick's Day, Halloween, weddings and even a black apron worn at a funeral.

Their collection also has a wide range of functionality. Surpassing the need to use the aprons simply for cooking, the accessory can be used to carry antique clothespins, to accommodate a pregnant belly and as a nurse's apron, which Lokken found in a ragbag in Kansas for $1. Both Lokken and Winkler have aprons dating back to the late 1890s.

The duo gave a presentation to more than a dozen women at the Albertson Memorial Library in Albany March 12. They told stories about different aprons in their collection, pointing out the use of different fabrics, styles and embellishments. Roughly half of the women in attendance were wearing one of their own aprons from home. Winkler and Lokken also shared some of the history and random facts about aprons, including a common myth that if your apron comes untied, it means your true love is thinking of you.

Lokken and Winkler showed the audience a couple of their aprons that were made of lace, resembling lingerie, triggering a few childlike giggles throughout the room. Lokken said that happens at almost all of their presentations.

For Winkler, the most sentimental aprons are the ones she's received from relatives, including her grandmother.

"When I think of my grandma, she always had an apron on," Winkler said.

Both Winkler and Lokken enjoy reminiscing with others during their presentations. They also like to admire the work that went into making the aprons.

"So many of them were made by hand, and to see those little stitches and knowing someone sat and did that," Lokken said. "Both of us are quilters and embroiderers - and we just really appreciate it."