Archive for the ‘Artist Profiles’ Category

Tapestry Crochet Therapy

Saturday, January 20th, 2018

Tapestry crochet has been there for me when I needed it. This video shares some of the ways it helped me work through a difficult part of my life.

Sew Fine!

Tuesday, June 3rd, 2014

Thanks to the internet, one more person has discovered tapestry crochet, has mastered the technique, and has been discovered! Who am I talking about? Let me introduce you to Nina Reiderman and her fabulous tapestry crocheted bags.

Originally from Odessa, in the Ukraine, Nina and her family moved to Israel in 1995. Nina is a seamstress and knitter, and now she’s hooked on tapestry crochet. According to Nina, “Although once a hobby, crochet is now my passion and I devote a lot of my free time to it.” Judging from what she has accomplished over the last year, I think she must tapestry crochet day and night!

Nina explained, “In 2011 I learned about tapestry crochet when I saw pictures of Marina Gavrilov’s bags online. I was fascinated by her work. I didn’t know that you could do something that looked like fabric with a crochet hook. I started reading about it on the internet. It looked masterful and difficult, but I thought if someone else can do it, then I’ll do it, too.”

“I remembered that kippot (worn by religious men in Israel) were done with the same technique. Later I learned that tapestry crochet is known by many people.”

“In 2013 I tapestry crocheted my First Bag with a size 1/2.00 mm hook. I liked it so much that while I was making it, I was dreaming about the next one.”

Nona's first tapestry crocheted bag, May 2013.

Nina’s First Bag, wool and acrylic blend yarn, 7 1/2 x 8″ (19 x 20.5 cm), May 2013.

Like Nina, I also design my next project as I’m crocheting; the following piece often evolves from the one I’m making. I see a similar evolution in Nina’s work.

She crocheted the eye-catching bag below for a good friend with a size 4/1.75 mm hook and Adriafil Classic Azzurra, a blend of wool and acrylic. Winter Bag and First Bag are the same shape, but the new bag has a button closure and a different strap. The sturdy strap was tapestry crocheted, lined with cotton twill tape to keep it from stretching, then sewn to the rim.

Nina's Winter Bag, Adriafil Classic Azzurra yarn, 6 1/3 x 7" (16 x 18 cm), June 2013.

Nina’s Winter Bag, Adriafil Classic Azzurra yarn, 6 1/3 x 7″ (16 x 18 cm), June 2013.

With the same size 4/1.75 mm hook and Azzurra yarn, she crocheted the next bag (below) for her wonderful mother. It features a striped oval base and abstract pea motifs in pea green. The nylon strap was carefully placed machine sewn so that it perfectly lines up with slits in the rim.

Nina's Peas Bag, July 2013.

Nina’s Peas Bag, Adriafil Classic Azzurra yarn, 8 5/8 x 9 7/8″ (22 x 24 cm), July 2013.

The following bag is even more amazing. Nina mentioned that, “I like mosaic work, which there is a lot of in Israel.” In fact, the pattern on the exquisite bag below was inspired by a local mosaic.

The mosaic from Keysarii in Israel inspired the motif on Nina's bag on the right.

The mosaic from Keysarii in Israel inspired the motif on Nina’s Fans Bag.

She made this one for her lucky daughter with a size 4/1.75 mm hook and Adriafil Classic Azzurra yarn. I love all the details – and the round bottom is as visually exciting as the pleated sides!

Nina's Fans Bag, September 2013.

Nina’s Fans Bag, Adriafil Classic Azzurra yarn, 7 7/8 x 10 5/8″ (20 x 27 cm), September 2013.

Nina mentioned that, “I also find patterns in magazines. I am inspired by the work of other people.”

She recycled the motif from my Arrowhead Tote (from the Fall 2012 issue of Interweave Crochet) to create the stylish shoulder bag below, using a size 4/1.75 mm hook and Vitalgo Holiday acrylic yarn. I love the color choices and the button flap! The fringed crocheted strap was machine sewn to the bag.

Nina's Arrows bag

Nina’s Pocket Bag, Vitalgo Holiday acrylic yarn, 9 x 9 7/8″ (23 x 24 cm), February 2014.

A Paisley Chart, available from Marina Gavrilova’s online store, inspired her next bag, crocheted with a size 1/2.0 mm hook and Vitalgo Holiday acrylic yarn. Most people are afraid of sewing in zippers and linings, but they are no problem for Nina.

Nina's Paisley Bag, April 2014.

Nina’s Paisley Bag, Vitalgo Holiday acrylic yarn, 10 1/4 x 10 5/8″ (26 x 27 cm), April 2014.

Nina incorporated the Dancing Raven chart from Marina Gavrilova’s online store into a zippered shoulder bag that she tapestry crocheted with a size 1/2.0 mm hook and acrylic yarn.

Nina's Bird Bag, May 2014.

Nina’s Dancing Raven Bag, acrylic yarn, 9 7/8 x 9″ (25 x 23 cm), May 2014.

Nina machine-sewed grosgrain ribbon to the back of the strap to reinforce it.

Dancing Raven strap

Back and front of the Dancing Raven Bag strap, single crocheted in the back loop without carried color.

Below, Nina is tapestry crocheting a Dragonfly Bag from a chart that she found online. The concentration that tapestry crochet requires is very meditative and the repetitive motion releases endorphins, which reduce pain and stress.

Nina Reiderman tapestry crocheting

Nina Reiderman tapestry crocheting her Dragonfly Bag.

Dragonfly Chart

Dragonfly chart, beginning of the Dragonfly Bag, yarn and handled hook.

Nina says that, “I never crochet when I am in a bad mood. I try to do it when I am in a good mood so that the person for whom I am making the bag will feel my positive emotions.”

The fashionable shapes, colorful motifs, and tailored details really make Nina’s bags stand out! She will post photos of her new masterpieces on the Ravelry (where she is know as nenaray) and Facebook Tapestry Crochet Group pages. I’m really looking forward to seeing what she does next!

Bead Felted

Saturday, February 22nd, 2014

Have you seen Michele Maks’ wonderful new crochet pattern subscription site, Mainly Crochet? For more about this innovative business venture, take a look at Michele’s blog and Mainly Crochet’s Facebook page.

Mainly Crochet Tapestry Set‘s Felted Tapestry Set (photo by Don Patty).

I’m thrilled that my bead felted tote and matching cosmetic bag are now included in Mainly Crochet’s pattern inventory. The tote is fully reversible because of the seamless one piece construction and the fact that the motif is integrated into the fabric as it is tapestry crocheted. One side has beads and the other is plain, so it’s two totes in one!

Felted Tapestry Crochet Bag before

Tapestry crochet tote before felting, 13″ high by 18″ wide, worsted wool.

Large, loose stitches felt wonderfully in a washing machine. The carried yarn makes the fabric durable, so no lining is necessary.

Bead Felted Tapestry Crochet Bag

Bead side of the tapestry crochet tote before felting, 13″ high by 18″ high, worsted wool and size 5 triangular glass beads from Fire Mountain Gems.

Glass beads are heavy, so I only put them as accents in the squares and on the arms of the crosses, for a subtle sparkle.

Felted Tapestry Crochet Bag detail

Detail of the plain (on the left) and beaded sides of the tapestry crochet fabric before felting.

Felted Tapestry Crochet Bag

Finished felted tapestry crochet tote, 12 1/2″ high by 14 1/2″ wide, worsted wool.

Bead Felted Bag

Finished beaded felted tapestry crochet tote, 12 1/2″ high by 14 1/2″ high, worsted wool and glass beads.

As usual, I experimented and made a large swatch (below) before crocheting the above bag. As you can see in the before and after pictures, the tapestry crocheted fabric shrinks more horizontally than it does vertically. The loose stitches allow specks of black to show in the white and white dots the black – but large stitches are necessary for successful felting. No problem for me because I actually like the “tweedy” look.

Tapestry Crochet Swatch

Tapestry crochet swatch – before and after felting.

I had to experiment with the cosmetic bag, too. Each of the finished bags (below on the right) have a zipper closure.

Before After Tapestry Crochet Bags

Tapestry crochet cosmetic bags before and after felting. My first attempt is on top.

I hope you’ll give this Felted Tapestry Set a try. If you have never done felted tapestry crochet, you might consider making a Felted Amulet Bag, the free introductory felting project linked to my web page that includes online instructions and a video tutorial. Please also take a look at my Bead & Felted Tapestry Crochet book and web page for more inspiration.

Drawn In Bags

Monday, January 27th, 2014

If you haven’t seen Marina Gavrilov’s striking tapestry crochet, then you’re in for a treat! I first noticed her wonderful bags on the “recently shared projects” window of the Ravelry Tapestry Crochet group. Lots of great items pop up there, but almost every time I linked to something that caught my attention, it was by RuskaM (her Ravelry name).

Marina describes herself as “. . . a mathematician by education but I am also a great lover of fine arts and crafts. One of my true pleasures is making tapestry crochet bags. I love their woven-like texture but I love “weaving” a story into a pattern most. Like a story, you don’t know how it’s going to turn out in the end, how the colours will compliment each other to make a stunning result.”

When I asked Marina how she discovered it – she explained, “I learned tapestry crochet when I was about 12 years old from my grandmother who was a great crafter. I have to add that I came from a culture (Russia) with a strong tradition in handcrafts. Tapestry crochet is called jacquard in Eastern Europe. I didn’t realize at the time the full potential of this technique. It took me half a lifetime and crossing the ocean to come to my lighting moment. A few years ago I came across your blog that changed my life. The tapestry crochet world was suddenly filled with so much colour and happiness! I could spend hours just browsing wonderful works by other artists. A few years ago my hubby bought me two of your books for my birthday. I was the happiest women on earth! I knew the technique but the book opened up my mind and unleashed my imagination. There are still several things I need to learn from your book, e.g. flat tapestry crochet and crochet with beads.”


Marina, Hibiscus Drawstring Bag, 2.75 mm (C) hook, Red Heart Super Soft and Comfort Sport yarn, January 2012.

How does she find the time to crochet? She responded, “I have so little time between my day job as an IT manager, my family, and my community work that I try to spend every free minute doing what I love most – designing charted patterns and crocheting.”

“I love to crochet bags. Since tapestry crochet is my favourite technique making bags is the most natural choice. Besides I like making something very functional and not too bulky. I am a small accessories girl, afghans and coats are not my forté. Although I admire people having so much patience and diligence!”


Marina, Harmony Drawstring Bag, 3.00 mm hook, Patons Shetland Ragg K.W., acrylic, and Red Heart Super Soft yarn, February 2012.

She shared her love for the craft by saying that the colors and textures attracted her. “I always loved woven-like fabric and traditional folk art and crafts. They are so rich in vibrant colours and carry timeless stories of generations and civilizations that have past! I am inspired by traditional South American indigenous tribal (mochila) bags. In my art I try to bring together traditional and modern western art. So I take the shape and design of mochila bags and put, for example, art nouveau or art deco designs on them. In my view tapestry crochet opens up a lot of opportunities for new ideas and creativity. It allows you to self-express, weave your own story, to be unique and yet continue the traditional line of this craft.”

Describing the below bag, Marina explained that the “Red drops were worked using the intarsia method. One of my personal favourite bags!”

M Ruska, Purple Cats Eye Lucky Charm Drawstring Bag, May 2012.

Marina, Purple Cats Eye Lucky Charm Drawstring Bag, 3.00 mm hook, variegated gold metallic, Red Heart Super Saver and Bernat Softee Baby yarn, May 2012.

Where does she get her yarn? She replied, “I mostly use yarn I found in thrift stores. If a design calls for a specific colour I buy it at a local yarn store. I prefer a more rustic feel to yarn and often use twine or thin rope. However, most of the time I just do with what I have – be it wool, acrylic, nylon thread, cotton or any combination of those.”


Marina, Blossom Drawstring Bag, 3.00 mm hook, Patons North America Decor yarn, November 2012.

Describing the below bag, Marina said, “The pattern turned out better than expected! I had to adjust the chart for slanted stitches (the chart has been updated!). The chart was very easy to use and to memorize. Lots of fun!”


Marina, Floral Garland Drawstring Bag, 2.75 mm (C) hook, Yarns Brunswick KW Jewel Tones yarn, January 2013.

What hook sizes does Marina like to use? She says, “I crochet pretty tight with sizes 2.75 mm or 3 mm most of the time.”


Marina, Green Plumage Bag, Red Heart Comfort Sport yarn and gold metallic yarn, 2.75 mm (C) hook, February 2013.

How big are Marina’s projects? She says, “My bags usually measure 31 cm (12.5″) in diameter and 34 cm (14″) high. I try to design my charts in sizes that fit within 65-75 rows (optimal height of a bag). No need to re-calculate and re-design!”

About the bag below, Marina said, “This bag was quite challenging to make. However, it was definitely worth the effort!”


Marina, Dancing Raven Drawstring Bag, Red Heart Super Saver and Eaton’s Fisherman Knit Aran and acrylic yarn, 3.00 mm hook, March 2013.

I love that the bottoms of Marina’s drawstring bags are just as interesting as the sides!


Marina, Cats Eye Flower Lucky Charm Drawstring Bag, Bernat Softee Solid Chunky yarn, 3.25 mm (D) hook, April 2013.

Marina finds inspiration everywhere. She explains, “I listen to the voice of my soul and allow my heart to lead me on my next design adventure. All of my designs are adjusted to create tapestry crochet projects although they can be used for any counted craft: cross stitch, filet crochet, knitting, mosaic, beading, etc.”

“I’ve been making crafts my whole life. From knitting, crocheting, embroidery, macrame to mosaic and stained glass, – I’ve done it all! Lately I’ve been designing my own patterns that I hope you will find inspirational for your own projects!”

Marina’s graphs can be adapted for a variety of media. She explained that, “The graph (below) was designed in memory of my mother-in-law who lost the battle against breast cancer and to support those men and women who are still fighting the battle. It is a free download on Ravelry.”


Marina, Heart Ribbon Graph

Does she sell her bags? Not yet – she explained that, “I have been giving away my bags and other items to my friends and family. I also have lots of completed items piled up at home. I will probably try to sell some of them but have to think how to organize this whole business. I am more into designing and making than selling.”

Marina sells her graphs and tapestry crochet bag patterns on both Ravelry and Etsy (and her bags here, too). She describes the below bag as “A fashionable fun and trendy accessory or a truly unique gift! This pattern is easy to customize to fit any tablet or a lap-top. The final size is 9.5” x 11.5”. The strap’s length is 34”. Please keep in mind that yarn selection and hook size may alter the finished dimensions.”

“Personally, tapestry crochet helped me in the most difficult time of my life. It re-balanced my world-view and helped me prioritise my values. I now see the world in bright colours. It re-sparked my interest in local cultures and people. I would love to connect with other tapestry crochet enthusiasts in a physical world. I am open to communication (at and cooperation. I am also interested in cultural tours to explore this wonderful craft around the world!”

That sound great to me! I hope we cross paths someday soon.

An Extraordinary Man

Wednesday, January 15th, 2014

Let me introduce you to an articulate and talented artist who celebrates his heritage every day.  Many people know him as Diego Juárez Viveros, but he is Atlachinocolotl Paquiliztli on Facebook and in the dance community.  

He moved from Michoacán, México, to the United States when he was 4 years old. As you will see, he has accomplished quite a lot since then!


Atlachinocolotl Paquiliztli, 2005, and his tapestry crocheted Aztec Dancer, Red Heart acrylic yarn, 5′ x 2’6″, 2013.

He explains, “All of my life, I have stood out for being out of the ordinary for many reasons. I stood out in school for my excellence in academic achievement. Despite growing up in a family with low economic means, I have found ways to become successful. After graduating from high school with an outstanding academic record, I pursued a biochemistry degree at University of California, San Diego and graduated in 2008.  I then decided to pursue a career in pharmacy and I was accepted to University of California, San Francisco School of Pharmacy.  In September 2013, I completed the Doctor of Pharmacy degree program.” 

“I put a lot of passion in everything I do.  Aside from crochet, I am interested in astronomy, photography, technology, and learning languages. I speak Spanish and English very fluently. I am currently learning Nahuatl. Nahuatl is an agglutinative language, which means that words are constructed by combining word particles in order to form single ideas.  My name can be broken down as “atl” + “tlachinolli” + “colotl”, which mean “water”+ “burnt” + “scorpion”, respectively. My name means Burnt Water Scorpion.  “Paquiliztli” means happiness.”

Atlachinocolotl Paquiliztli’s unique tapestries are crocheted back and forth, but instead of showing the back of the stitches on every other row, the face of his fabric shows only the front of the stitches. There are a few ways to accomplish this, so I asked him how he did it. He explained, “When I crochet in the opposite direction, I crochet backwards just like it is described in your book. I hold the right side forward and the wrong side toward me. Then I use my right hand to crochet. You can see a little in the photograph of me crocheting that way (below).”


Atlachinocolotl crocheting across the back of his Aztec Dancer with Red Heart acrylic yarn, 2012.

“In 2010, I saw my mother crocheting a piece and I asked her to show me how to crochet. She showed me how to do single crochet and, instantly, I was hooked (hehe). I started experimenting with crocheting that day. I wanted to know more. So I bought some books to learn the basics of crochet. I made some rather simple projects at first. After much experimentation and exploration, a vision of what I wanted started to take hold: I wanted to recreate pictures with crochet. I set off on a quest to find out more information about switching colors but I could only find basic instructions. I started making basic pieces with two colors to experiment at first. I created charts using square graphs. The designs came out okay, but I wasn’t satisfied.”

“The piece below was my first attempt at creating a tapestry crochet piece (at that time, I didn’t know the term). The pattern was modeled on a square graph paper.  The piece was crocheted with double crochet stitches, using blue and white Omega Crys yarn.   While creating this project, I learned the basics of switching colors to create a pattern. 

white blue
Bag, Omega Crys acrylic and polyester yarn, 8″ x 8″, 2010.

“One day, I came across your videos on YouTube. That is how I realized that pictures could be reproduced using tapestry crochet. I began to experiment. My first major crochet piece (The Aztec Dancer) was modeled on a square graph. With this project I began to understand the intrinsic structure of single crochet and figuring out how to reduce bleeding of colors. I realized a square graph is not an adequate model for tapestry crochet but that the stitches are better Erica the Mexican Folkloric Dancer modeled by a hexagonal graph. I spent an entire day figuring out how to overlay a hexagonal graph over a picture in Photoshop. Once I figured that out, I had a working model.”

Atlachinocolotl Paquiliztli Dancer

Graph, front, and back of Erica the Mexican Folkloric Dancer.

“I then started crocheting. With this most current project, I refined my technique more and created ways to make lines crisper with single crochet.” He describes the Erica the Mexican Folkloric Dancer tapestry in a short YouTube video.

3' x 6' tapestry

Erica the Mexican Folkloric Dancer, Red Heart acrylic yarn, 3′ x 6′, 2013.

When I asked about his yarn and hook preferences, he said, “It depends on the type of project I will be making.  In general, I prefer bright colors so I pick yarn brands that provide those colors. For projects that require fine detail, I like to use Omega Crys, which is a fine yarn (size 10) made of 68% acrylic and 32% polyester. It is imported from Mexico and is available in a wide variety of bright colors.  For fine projects I use a 2.00 mm hook.  For bigger projects, such as the colorful blankets I have made, I use Red Heart yarn (size 4) with a Size E hook.”

For his newest piece, Atlachinocolotl Paquiliztli digitized his own scorpion drawing with a pen tool, then layered a hexagonal graph over it in Photoshop.


Atachinocolotl’s scorpion graph.


Colotl Scorpion in progress, Omega Crys acrylic and polyester yarn, 2013.

“This is my most recent piece.  I crocheted it with a 2.00mm hook and tapestry single crochet techniques.  This project is different from my previous projects for two reasons. This is the first time in which I have incorporated beads in a project. It is also the first time in which I joined another fabric in the back in order hide the yarn that I carry in the back.”

Atlachinocolot lPaquiliztliWithScorpion

Atlachinocolotl Paquiliztli and Colotl Scorpion, OmegaCrys acrylic and polyester yarn and glass beads, 7′ 3″ x 8 3/4″, 2013.

 “After seeing the huge online response to my work, I intend to teach about my technique.  After comparing my results with those of others, I realized that my techniques allow for crisper edges with single crochet.  I plan on writing an ebook in iBooks format. This book will include pictures, text and video explaining my technique.  It will have designs inspired by my Mexican background.  It will include the patterns for the Aztec Dancer and the Mexican Folkloric Dancer as well as some more of my ideas.  I am currently undergoing a huge life transition since I have just graduated from pharmacy school.  You should expect to see my book within 1-2 years.”

I don’t know about you, but I’m really looking forward to seeing Atalachinocolotl Paquiliztli’s future work – both his tapestry crochet and his publications!

One of Twenty

Wednesday, July 24th, 2013

I’m proud to say that Gwen Blakley Kinsler included my tapestry crochet and me in her wonderful new  book!

Fine art of Crochet

The Fine Art of Crochet doesn’t have crochet patterns, but instead focuses on the individual stories of twenty artists who use crochet as their medium. Gwen included several photos of my work, but could not include everything she mentioned.  No problem, though, because my Self Portrait, Mothers Advice Pearls, Mothers Advice Harvest, and our house can be seen online. Unfortunately, the Hidden in Plain Sight book she mentioned has still not been published – someday soon, I hope!

Gwen had a difficult time getting this book printed because publishers assumed it would not be a hot seller. Please prove them wrong and show your support by either purchasing a copy or by requesting that your library do so.  Currently, has both the paperback and kindle editions for the lowest prices.

Congratulations, Gwen, for making your dream come true (and thanks for including me, too)!


Thursday, April 18th, 2013

Today I received this email that I thought you would enjoy:

“Many years ago, you and I corresponded. I had been looking for the key to incorporating different colors into kippot/yarmulkes, and had been asking people to teach me. Now one could. Finally, you introduced me to the answer…tapestry crochet! I had bought your first book on the subject and you sent me an autographed copy of the second. I think that crocheting patterns into kippot is more interesting than straight colors.”

Kippa Monica Stripes

Monica’s kippa, tapestry crocheted with DMC.

“When I told DH I wanted to make him a kippa to match his tallit, he asked for a plain pattern. I matched the colors in the fabric with DMC skeins. I finished every color as if it were the outside of the kippa. I don’t like the ‘bump’ at the end of a row. (I will often incorporate the wearers Hebrew name so that the bump is woven in and not noticeable.) The gold thread was difficult to use which is why I put it on the inside, instead of the outside.”

“I actually had to unwravel the ecru outside band and redo it because the stitches were too tight for DH. He has a very flat head… LOL!”

Kippot Monica

Three more of Monica’s kippot, two with Hebrew names and a feminine one with beads.

Here are details on the argyle kippah. I have a couple of books in Hebrew with lots of patterns. I usually make up my own.

Here are details on the argyle kippah. I have a couple of books in Hebrew with lots of patterns. I usually make up my own.

“I thank you to this day and wanted you to know that I’m still inspired.”

Thank you so much, Monica, for your wonderful email and for letting me share it with the world!

The Lesson

Friday, July 20th, 2012

Othman Ribatallah has really grown up since Bronwyn met him in 2006. Maybe that’s why he and his Father were able to change places. Othman now runs the family store, stocked with a variety of high quality items, some of which Othman crafted himself. The inventory includes fine handwoven rugs, sterling silver jewelry, crocheted hats from all over Morocco and sculptures from other African countries, like Cameroon.

Othman and me (with my hat purchases) in front of his store in Essaouira.

Othman’s father now crochets and sells hats around the corner from the store. He learned to crochet from his father, who learned from his father, etc. Slip stitched hats were traditionally made by Berber shepherds as they tended their flocks of goats and sheep (today both men and women crochet hats in Morocco). His wife and daughter crochet the style of hat he’s holding (below) with a small hook and fine cotton thread. It takes them two to three days to slip stitch one with such small stitches. He prefers to crochet hats with a larger hook and heavier cotton yarn, which take two to three hours to finish. Prices reflect time spent to make each hat.

Othman’s Father and our tour leader, Susan Schaefer Davis, in Essaouira.

Our tour didn’t include Essaouira, so I asked if an extension could be added so we could look for tapestry crocheters there. Not only did Noble Journeys add the extension, but Susan found Othman on an earlier visit. When Othman mentioned to Susan that he taught crochet, she scheduled an informal private lesson for me!

But first things first! A proper Moroccan host must serve hot, frothy green tea made with fresh mint to welcome his guests! So after we arrived, Othman asked us to give him some time so that he could prepare everything. In the meantime, we visited the interesting nearby Fort.

Othman served us hot tea in the traditional way – pouring it from above.

Othman began the lesson by showing me how to crochet a hat with alternating rows of blue and white back loop slip stitches. The rim will have several rounds of front loop stitches for textural contrast. Othman often combines front loop (which he calls bottom loop) with back loop (top loop) stitches. (This slip stitch technique goes by many names, including Bosnian crochet.) A friend brought him the fine Italian wool that he’s using to make the hat.

Othman slip stitched a hat with alternating rounds of blue and white wool while I photographed his technique.

Othman then began another style hat with chunky cotton yarn. Like the Fes crocheter that I met earlier on the trip, he held the piece with his left hand, inserted the hook with his right hand, yarned over the hook with his right hand (like a knitter), then immediately pulled the new loop through both loops already on the hook. Colors were changed after the stitch was complete. His wooden hook was begun by a local carpenter, then Othman carved the large and small hook on both ends himself.

The yarn over is made by wrapping the yarn across the front of the hook, then around the back.

Othman crochets traditional hats and new styles of his own design. After showing me how to crochet three different types, he explained that someone with an open mind and imagination could crochet anything.

Othman is an EXCELLENT teacher and would gladly teach slip stitch tapestry crochet to you in Morocco or abroad. His English, French, and Moroccan Arabic are excellent, he patiently explains every step of the process – then helps you do it, and his fees are very reasonable.

Othman would also be happy to sell you his work, hats made in other parts of Morocco, and merchandise from his store. He is also willing to crochet hats with wool or thread that you send him. Packing is time consuming and postage is expensive, so several items would need to be purchased together to make the order worthwhile. Payment would have to be made in advance through Western Union. For purchases or to schedule a lesson, please email Othman at or phone him at 212 610 745 701 or write to him at Boutique N. 22, Rue Skala, Essaouira, Morocco.

I hope you’ll be able to visit Morocco someday! It’s such a beautiful and interesting country full of friendly, talented people. Although we flew into Cassablanca, some take the ferry from Algeciras in southern Spain (near Gibraltar) to Ceuta to enter the country. No matter how you get there, please say hello to Othman and his Father for me!

Jocelynn Brown

Monday, February 6th, 2012

Jocelynn Brown is a very talented and creative journalist. Her column in The Detroit News includes a variety of media, but my favorite articles showcase some of her own tapestry crochet designs!

Hats, bag, and bowl by Jocelynn Brown, 2011 (photo: The Detroit News).

Jocelynn was nine years old when her mother taught her to crochet. She reminisced, “We’d spend hours together crocheting in front of the TV and sometimes on the back porch. I continued through my adulthood, designing and making hats, afghans and baby clothes.”

Hat designed by Jocelynn, 2012 (photo: The Detroit News).

Jocelynn tried to teach herself tapestry crochet in 2008, but didn’t really grasp it until last year. Since then, she’s been designing colorful hats and other accessories. Her goal now is to learn how to use graph paper so that she can add more shapes and motifs.

The instructions for the golf club cover below were included in Jocelynn’s A golf club cover for old times’ sake column in the February 3, 2012 Lifestyle section of The Detroit News. The golf club cover is also featured in her Crafting Blog.

align center
Jocelynn’s Golf Club Cover, 2012 (photo: The Detroit News).

Jocelynn Brown (photo: The Detroit News)

Jocelynn says, “I find tapestry crochet to be very relaxing, and I’m always planning my next project. Right now, I’m looking forward to making a summer tote with lots of jewel tones, using a mercerized cotton.” I’m really looking forward to seeing it. Hopefully, she’ll share it with us in another inspirational column!

Shallow Single Tapestry Crochet

Wednesday, November 2nd, 2011

Ariana Thompson taught herself how to crochet more than fifteen years ago from the 1993 Harmony Guide To Crocheting: Techniques and Stitches by Debra Mountford. That’s where she discovered the shallow single crochet stitch. Fortunately, Ariana decided to experiment with this stitch while doing tapestry crochet.

Ariana’s “shallow single” tapestry crochet swatches with designs from Alice Starmore, Tone Takle, and Lise Kolstad. Most are superwash wool DK worked with a 4mm hook. The two on the top right are cotton, and the small red one in the middle with two isolated motifs were crocheted with Kroy sock yarn.

According to Ariana, “The finished project does not behave like knitting – structurally it’s still single crochet, but the look is nice. It is actually a little firmer than regular single crochet, as you are working into the stitch below a little . . . deeper, I guess you could say. I think that’s why they call it ‘shallow crochet’, because you don’t actually gain as much height with each round as you would with a round of regular single crochet. It has a firmness that’s great for jackets, purses, pillows – with a finer yarn, like sportweight or sockweight you get a fabric than behaves like . . . maybe light denim. Shallow stitch has a significant bias and has to be wet-blocked to be straight, so I like to use a fibre that can be blocked – a wool or a cotton rather than acrylic.”

“I often do tapestry crochet using a ‘shallow single crochet’ usually abbreviated in patterns as ssc. Instead of working your single crochet into the top two loops of the stitch below, put your hook in the centre of the stitch below, between the two uprights. You have to work this stitch in one direction only so you always have the right side facing. The result is the perfectly stacked little “V” shapes of knitting.”

After Ariana shared her swatches with the Ravelry Tapestry Crochet Group, I began to experiment, too. Several attempts were required to successfully produce the red and white sample below – done with a large hook, loose tension, and stretchy yarn.

Both pieces were crocheted following the same instructions, but the blue one was tapestry crocheted with size 3 cotton thread and the pink one was “shallow single” tapestry crocheted with a larger hook and stretchy worsted wool.

The motifs on my sample didn’t slant – maybe because the hook was stuck under the carried yarn of the stitch below.

The back of the blue tapestry crocheted piece looks quite different from the back of the red shallow single tapestry crocheted piece.

I’m not only intrigued by the look of the front and back – but also by the incredible thickness of the fabric! To me, it looks like shallow single tapestry crochet has great potential!

Down Under Wonder

Sunday, October 9th, 2011

Anne Churches and her husband live in Kyabram, a small dairy and fruit farming community around 124 miles /200 km north of Melbourne, Australia. They retired around five years ago to part of the property that used to be their orchard. Anne enjoys golf, weaving, seeing her eleven grandchildren, and of course, tapestry crochet.

Autumn and Fall, first made in 2009.

This talented artist has been designing and hand weaving stunning shaft shifting rugs on a large floor loom in her home for about ten years. While looking for something to do with the left over wool, she discovered tapestry crochet. As you can see, Anne’s unique sense of design and color have translated well. Over the past two years, she’s sold more than seventy tapestry crocheted bags at Wool Shows, Handweaver and Spinner Sharing Days, through her network of friends, and on her web site.

When asked what inspires her motifs, Anne said they develop as she explores the technique, adding that “I like free form shapes and also flowers. My most popular designs have been called ‘Organic’. A wonderful way to use up many colours.”

Green ZigZag and Felix, 2009.
Pink Waves and GreyNight, first made in 2010.

And how does she achieve the vibrant variegated colors? After purchasing New Zealand yarn from carpet manufacturers in Melbourne (similar to Jason Collingwood rug yarn), she dyes it with Lanaset dyes, 500 grams at a time in a 5 gallon / 19 liter stock pot on her kitchen stove. For the bags, she doubles the yarn and crochets them with a size G/ 7 / 4.5 mm hook with a wooden handle, specially made for her by a wood turner. Most of her bags are around 13″ 33 cm x 13″ / 33cm in size (not including the strap).

Some of Anne’s Tapestry Crochet and her hook.
Cool Kats and Caesar Tote, 2010.

If you’d like to tapestry crochet one of Anne’s bags, you’re in luck, because the pattern for her Summer Bag (below) is for sale on her website. The instructions are clear and the pattern includes several stitch diagrams photographs. Anne plans to add more patterns in the future.

Summer Bag and Organic Bag, 2010.

For hands-on workshops, Anne will be teaching how to tapestry crochet a bag in Kyabram and Wangaratta in October and November. Although students are not able to finish it during class, she shows samples of the base, the beginning of the sides, the strap, and the flap and tie and explains how to complete each step. So far, all of her students have finished their bags afterwards!

Anne, tapestry crocheting one of her wearable art bags, 2011.

Anne says it best, “I never tire of making bags. Also I am forever developing new designs. I have found an activity that can go with me anywhere. You can’t weave a rug in the car!”

Drawn In

Tuesday, July 26th, 2011

I discovered Kathryn Kawasaki’s playful tapestry crochet bags and hats on the projects page of the Tapestry Crochet Group on Ravelry, where she goes by mrskawasaki. Her children’s drawings and friend’s requests inspired Kathryn to tapestry crochet several functional works of art! What follows are answers to my questions and descriptions of her projects on Ravelry.

When I asked Kathryn how she found out about tapestry crochet and where she learned how to crochet, she explained that “A few years ago, I saw a picture of one of your pieces with cats, and was very fascinated with the idea of putting a design directly into the fabric.  So, I bought your book, More Tapestry Crochet, to get that pattern, and for the paper to make my own designs.  I originally learned regular crochet from my (late) mom, but that was close to 40 years ago, and I’d forgotten all of it.  I did inherit two sets of her hooks, though.  I had to buy a book to figure out what I used to know – this was about four years ago.  I started with little animals (amigurumi?) and afghans, before branching out into tapestry crochet.”

And when I asked about her inspiration, she said, “Mostly I crochet because my children never seem to finish their activities at the same time, and I need something to do while I wait. I love being able to “draw pictures” on the cloth and to watch them appear as I work.”

“The tapestry crochet graph paper has been very, very helpful to me. I use a copy machine to make bigger sheets of it to make drawings with more pixels.”

“My daughter wanted a lunch bag with ‘a mouse and a long strap’.  She drew the picture on tapestry crochet graph paper, and I added the balloons to give it more height.  She used it for several months, but it was too small, so now the bag holds the clothespins when I go outside to hang wash.”

Mouse Bag, 5″ diameter x 8″ tall, 2009.

Kathryn made the bag below for her sister. “The picture is a Daruma, a Japanese goal-setting doll. The doll starts with both eyes white. One eye is painted in at the beginning of a project, and the other at the end. The base looks a little like a chrysanthemum.”


“My seven-year-old drew the faces on the special paper. I cleaned up her design, cleared out some leftover yarn, and my friend ended up with the “coolest lunch bag ever!” Win-win all around. :)”

Square Faces Bag, Lion Brand Cotton-Ease, 6″ diameter x 10″ tall, July 2010.

“My friend’s niece is an acrobat in a circus (how cool is that?!), so my friend asked for a bag with circus elephants as a gift. There are six elephants altogether, but only pictures of four. Whoops.”

Circus Elephant Bag, Lion Brand Cotton-Ease, 7″ diameter x 11″ tall, August 2010.

“My neighbor told me one too many times that my bags look like hats. So I made him a hat. A really, really garish hat. With fake dreads. In the colors of his alma mater, the University of Tennessee. The brown hat was a test. I kept that one. And the children. I kept them too.”

Bo and Jo model Orange and Brown Hats, Lily Sugar’n Cream Cotton, September 2010.

“These projects take fewer than 12 hours, so it’s usually only a few days.  Any longer, and the project becomes not portable.”

Kathryn made most of the Snowmen Bag below on a long car ride.

Snowmen Bag, Lion Brand Cotton-Ease, October 2010.

Sea Turtles, Lion Brand Cotton-Ease, November 2010.

Rasta Hats, Lion Brand Fishermen’s Wool and Paton’s Classic Wool, December 2010 and June 2011.

“The bases of the snowman and fish bags are the same – kelp and snowflakes are different only in color!  Who knew?”

Fishy Bag, Plymouth Yarn Jeannee Worsted Cotton & Acrylic, March 2011.

“My ten-year old drew this for me. I like the fingers and how the alien’s eye moves around on its stalk. He didn’t want fingers on the lower limbs.”

One Eyed Guy Bag, Plymouth Yarn Jeannee Worsted, 5″ diameter x 8″ tall, March 2011.

“Who knew orcas have a gray patch behind their dorsal fins? I sure didn’t. This bag was fun to make, but I had to add kayakers to make it tall enough. I like the high contrast of the colors.”

Orka and Kayak Bag, Lion Brand Cotton-Ease, 11″ high, April 2011.

“This is a (much) bigger version of the earlier circus elephant bag. It came out taller than I anticipated. Clearly, I need to plan ahead . . .  There are three rows of four linked elephants, with stars on half the blankets, and abstract designs on the others. The design on the base is because it’s easier to count to 18 eight times than it is to count to 144!”

Mammoth Elephant Bag, Plymouth Yarn Jeannee Worsted and TLC Cotton Plus Solid Cotton & Acrylic, 6″ diameter x 14″ high, June 2011.

“A co-worker asked me to make ‘a tote bag that looks like Eddie Van Halen’s guitar’ . . . umm, okaayy . . . A tote bag in this fabric would weigh three tons, so I made him a “swatch pouch” about the size of an e-reader so he could see if he wanted to go that big. He’s decided against the tote bag. Now he wants a beanie ‘that looks like Eddie Van Halen’s guitar’. I took the picture before I added the button.”

Eddie V Bag, Plymouth Yarn Jeannee Worsted, 6″ x 8″ tall, June 2011.

“Whew! My hands were able to save me from my big mouth – ‘sure, I think I could make a beanie that looks like Eddie Van Halen’s guitar . . .’ It was tricky making the stripes look random; I had to pay attention to where I put the increases. I made the top of the hat mostly symmetrical to keep the counting easier. I put his initials on the hat – looks kind of Van Halen-esque, no?”

Eddi V Beanie, Plymouth Yarn Worsted Merino Superwash, July 2011.

“It was a fun project for a camping trip, but I had to keep it away from the campfire lest it get all smoky-smelling. My 10-year-old took the picture of me. Not too many chins. :)”

Kathryn busily tapestry crocheting the
Eddie V Beanie.

“What inspires me? The desire not to play with a phone to pass the time, I guess. I just like turning pictures into fabric. Deciding what to “draw” is the hardest part. (I seem to favor stuff with faces.) I am happiest when people give me ideas, for example: “Can you make an elephant?”

I really look forward to seeing what this creative mother and her two talented children from Campbell, California, do next! Don’t you?

Wendy Herdman

Friday, July 8th, 2011

Wendy Herdman, of Mesa, Arizona, is new to tapestry crochet. She says, “After several years hiatus from crochet, I stumbled on a reference to tapestry crochet while looking at painted thread techniques and the concept immediately made sense. Typically for me, I jumped into my yarn stash and started experimenting with all of three paragraphs “instruction”. Now that I feel comfortable with the basics, I’m looking forward to refining and expanding my skills.”

A few of Wendy’s fabulous crocheted bowls.

“I tend to work very organically with only a general idea of the finished project in mind. I don’t use published patterns or do more than rough sketches beforehand so my work is a constant process of finding solutions to problems I didn’t even know I’d be facing! That process–asking the questions, making mistakes, experimenting–constantly informs the direction of my work. Every piece begins with a single question: “What if?”

This is the bowl that first caught my attention (4.5” in diameter, Caron Simply Soft).

When I asked Wendy what she liked about tapestry crochet, she responded, “I love being able to change colors on the fly and even rip back huge sections without having to worry about stopping and starting new threads. It’s incredibly freeing.”

When asked, “What don’t you like about tapestry crochet?” She said,

“Having to stop to untangle the yarns! Working two or three colors at a time isn’t too bad, but when I get up to five or six I start seriously thinking about trading out a few colors to keep the numbers down.”

Wendy just finished this 6″ diameter Pinwheel Basket, tapestry crocheted with Caron yarn.

“My stash is mostly acrylic for economic reasons and for now that translates into a lot of Caron’s Simply Soft. I like the range of colors and the smooth feel, but I’ve been sneaking in more natural fibers and different weights of acrylic as well. In the end, anything that offers a good color or interesting characteristic to exploit is going to be a likely candidate for my work basket.”

She just finished this 7″ diameter Looking Down on Earth Basket, too, also tapestry crocheted with Caron Simply Soft yarn.

None of her pieces are done with graphed images – but are made up as she crochets. To see more of Wendy’s fabulous original creations, take a look at her projects page on Ravelry, where she goes by wherdman.

And when asked, “Do you have any tips?” Wendy replied, “Play! Every now and then, throw away the patterns and the graph paper and just play. It’s good for the soul.”

More Amazing!

Wednesday, May 25th, 2011

I hate it that I’ve been too busy to blog, especially when there’s so much to share! Where to begin? Let me start with my trip to Asheville, NC, where I attended the WARP (Weave a Real Peace) conference in early May. It was exhilarating to be surrounded by so many inspirational women! Reconnecting with friends and making new ones was fabulous.

The day before leaving for Asheville, I realized that the amazing tapestry crocheter featured in one of my 2009 blogs lived there. So, I arranged to meet Esther at Earth Guild, where she works.

First she introduced me to her tapestry crochet hats. Esther is so creative and generous! For instance, she carries elastic in the last few rows for a better fit. What a great idea! (Esther’s pattern for the green and white pinwheel in the background of the picture below is part of her Tapestry Crochet Basics packet sold at Earth Guild.)

Esther with some of her tapestry crocheted hats at Earth Guild.
The rim is cinched in by decreasing stitches and by carrying elastic in the last few rows.

Esther also came up with a great way to carry both colors so that she can go back and forth between them without readjusting the yarns on her left hand between the changes. Tension is maintained by holding the yarns with the middle, ring, and little fingers of the left hand.

Esther holds the yarns in a way that allows her to quickly switch colors.

But the light bulb really went on when I noticed that her motifs don’t slant as much as mine. In fact, Esther made a special tapestry crochet graph paper with less slant.

The slant of the image is less noticeable!
Here is Esther’s graph paper and the tapestry crocheted motif.

What does she do differently? Let’s see if you can figure it out by looking at the photos below.

Esther crochets a little bit differently. Can you figure it out?
Notice how the hook goes under carried color to envelop it in the stitch.
Esther’s tapestry crochet technique is ingenious!

Did you see it? Instead of going under the yarn and grabbing it yarn from the back, she hooks it from the front! Eureka! I suspect that many Guatemalans tapestry crochet with Esther’s method because the motifs on most of the bags purchased down there do not slant very much. My next blog will explore these two methods more in depth.

You’ve probably also noticed Esther’s colorful yarn. Some of it is Earth Guild’s cotton Dragon Tail Yarn and the rest she dyes herself. Her hand painted yarns are sold at Earth Guild and her dying method is explained in her Tapestry Crochet: Basics, Bags, and Pouches packet sold at Earth Guild. It also includes stitch tutorials (her method for right and left-handed crocheters), patterns, design notes, several animal motifs, tapestry crochet graph paper, and tips.

Esther’s tapestry crochet is incredible!!!!

My only disappointment is that I didn’t schedule enough time to look at more of Esther’s amazing tapestry crocheted works of art!

A Lovely Opportunity

Sunday, February 13th, 2011

If you have the courage to think outside the box, “mistakes” can open new doors – taking you to unimaginable destinations! That’s what happened to Connie Worley of Toccoa, Georgia, when she tried to tapestry crochet the pillow below.

Tapestry Crochet Round of Hearts Pillow.

Connie explained, “I’m not real sure what happened . . . it was supposed to have been a pillow but that wasn’t working out . . . I misread the pattern and added an extra row between each row of increased stitches. Carol answered my e-mails immediately with suggestions. The best advice was from a former teacher of hers, ‘There are no mistakes . . . only design opportunities.’ So I took this ‘opportunity’ and turned the pillow into a small market bag.”

Just in time for Valentine’s Day – Connie’s Pillow Bag.

“I am happy that the ‘pillow bag’ turned out . . . even my 13 year old nephew exclaimed (unbidden), ‘That’s a really cool bag, Aunt Connie.’”

“The first time I saw tapestry crochet was in the Spring 2009 issue of Interweave Crochet, which featured the Spring Market Bag. I got stuck when I got to the top where you work the strap into the openings to make the drawstring. I was so impressed that I got an immediate response from Carol with an answer to my e-mail asking for help with links in the e-mail, which I followed. I followed the links to find out more about tapestry crochet and loved all of the designs. I ordered the pillow design at that time, but did not try to make it until this past January . . . my new year’s resolution was to do/finish some projects that have accumulated in the corners and closets of our house (much to my husband’s delight). The heart pillow was one of them.”

Connie’s Spring Market Bag.

“Last week I bought some more thread at Bumbleberry in Clarkesville, Georgia, to make the pillow . . . and I now have a great bag to carry the thread in while I’m working on it. I really do want to make the pillow to put on my daughter’s bed. I am using the blue thread because of a hand-made blue and white quilt that is on it. I plan to put an eyelet ruffle around the edge of the pillow with a blue and white gingham or calico on the back. I go to Bumbleberry every Tuesday with a great group of women. Mostly they all knit, but one lady who crochets and knits loved my Spring Market Bag and she is getting ready to make it for herself.”

“The Spring Market Bag does take a while to do. When I finished, I thought I would never make another one like it . . . but I recently bought more yarn (in teals and browns) to make another one.”

“I love the effect of tapestry crochet. When I finish the round heart pillow, the Handy Basket is on my to do list as well. So many patterns . . . so little time!”

I was wondering why Connie goes by connieocd on Ravelry, then I noticed the explanation. According to Connie, “When I make something, I go gangbusters and all I want to do is make that item, whether it is crochet scarves, quilling (not quilting, but quilling), scrapbooking, etc. My sister (jennylouhoo on Ravelry) says I should open up a craft shop and call it ‘Connie’s OCD Shop’ and stock it with whatever obsession I have at the time!!”

Connie is determined to make a pillow this time!

Did you notice that Connie is crocheting with her left hand? Although the pillow pattern is only available with right-handed instructions, some of my other patterns are written for both right and left-handed crocheters. They rarely sell, though, so I asked her if I should bother offering them.

Connie replied, “I LOVE it that you have the left-handed patterns. That is the version I ordered for the Handy Basket, so please keep them available. Generally, I don’t have trouble with patterns, but recently I wished I had had a left-handed pattern for a sweater I was trying to make. I can’t find the pattern for it right now, but it was made from the bottom corners up (diagonally). Putting it together proved too hard for my little brain . . . figuring out what was left, right, and which way the pattern was supposed to go . . . up, down. I gave up and went on to another sweater that had straight rows. Please keep putting the left-handed patterns on your web site.”

So, the moral of this story is: The next time you make a mistake and are tempted to frog it and start over, accept the challenge and design your own version of the pattern instead!