Archive for the ‘Artist Profiles’ Category

Kathy’s Vibes

Wednesday, July 28th, 2010

Talented professional jazz musician and composer, Kathy Kelly, says, “My favorite hobby has always been beading and I have been an avid beader since I was a teen, working with many different beading techniques. Lately I’ve been doing a lot less beadwork and more crochet!”

“When I was a kid, my sister and I used to crochet and knit, learning from books with my mom trying to help us. We were all a bit clueless. I began to relearn to crochet as an adult in November 2008 when my sister gave me a set of crochet hooks for my birthday.”

Kathy Kelly
Kathy, tapestry crocheting her own version of Merrick’s Crochet Swirling Bag.

“While searching for crochet projects to try I saw a pattern for a tapestry crochet coin purse. A light went off in my head; I had been carrying a tapestry crochet coin purse around for about 15 years. They never seem to wear out, when they get too dirty, it’s time for a new one. I’ve always loved them for their beauty and function”

“Shortly thereafter I found the Tapestry Crochet website and picked up a copy of Carol Ventura’s More Tapestry Crochet. I used the graph paper in the book to start making my own designs. I also joined Ravelry and the tapestry crochet group there where I was, and still am, inspired by the work of others.”

I discovered Kathy on Ravelry, where she goes by vibeskat. With a name like that, it’s not surprising that she chose to tapestry crochet cats on her first pieces. The feline motif was inspired by a cat on a coin purse bought at a street fair.

Kathy’s First Tapestry Crochet Purse
Kathy’s first complete tapestry crochet project, 9 1/2” by 6”, June 2009.

Kathy’s next purse was not as large, but the small size made it difficult to attach the zipper with her sewing machine.  She designed the heart motif that decorates the bottom.

Tapestry Crochet Coin Purse
Kathy’s Coin Purse, Rowan Glace, June-July 2009.

Now, back to Kathy, who explains that, “I like being able to chart my own designs and am constantly challenged by the lack of symmetry that the stitches produce. Alien Owl Coin Purse started with a more detailed chart that unintentionally produced the “alien” effect. I began thinking about simplicity of design and how the brain always tries to find meaning in shapes. For instance, think of the stick figures that everyone recognizes as people, or how we interpret the shapes of clouds.”

Not bad for a first attempt at designing a tapestry crochet motif! What a hoot (sometimes I can’t help myself)! She plans to revise the owl for another project. This purse was crocheted with brilliant DMC Senso 100%cotton thread, perfect for her 70’s style palette. Unfortunately, this size 3 thread has been discontinued.

Owl Coin Purse
Alien Owl Coin Purse, Senso cotton, August – September 2009.

She also told me that, “Small purses and eyeglass cases do not allow me to put so much detail into the designs. My objective is to make a simpler design that the mind will recognize as the intended object.”

“I try to let go of the need for exact symmetry. The loons on my Loons Coin Purse have a different graph for the right and left facing loons. I altered the chart to allow for the way the stitches lean.”

Tapestry Crochet Loons Coin Purse
Kathy’s Loons Coin Purse, Senso cotton, November 2009.

The eyeglass cases below have flip top lids and button closures and are lined with “posh” lining fabric to protect the glasses from abrasion. The colorful stripes and varied tails set up an exciting, rhythmic composition.

Kathy’s Tapestry Crocheted Eyeglass Cases
Senso cotton, Boye size 6 hook, September 2009 (left) and April 2010.

The next coin purse was crocheted with her new favorite thread, Patons Grace (Kathy likes the twist and color selection). She carried one or two threads for part of a row to get more colors on certain rows without affecting the shape.

Kathy’s White Cat Coin Purse
Bates size 3 steel hook, Patons Grace, January 2010.

Testing a roadrunner design for her next project, she decided to make a tiny bag to see how the graph would look tapestry crocheted.

Tapestry Crochet Roadrunner Coin Purse
Kathy’s Roadrunner Coin Purse, 3.25″ by 2.25″, Patons Grace, Bates size 3 steel hook, April 2010.

Jazz is very creative and improvisational and so is Kathy’s tapestry crochet. Her newest piece, which is based on another designer’s pattern, combines her loves of beading and crochet. The bottom of this fun bag was crocheted with Rowan Glace and the roadrunner stripes with Patons Grace. Beaded peyote tubes (worked around cotton seine twine) connect a cloth handle at both ends of the zipper closure.

Kathy’s Roadrunner Bag
Roadrunner Bag, Patons Grace, July 2010.

When I asked where she gets her ideas, Kathy said, “Things that have inspired me include poetry by Rumi, nature, animals, American Indian and African beadwork, playing and listening to music from all over the world. I believe that any art I am involved in has an effect on any other form of art that I do. The art of life, the life of art.”

Want to know more about this artist? Then you need to listen to Kathy’s music on her website and Myspace page – or catch one of her performances – to really get this Vibes Cat!

Cheryl’s Spin

Wednesday, July 14th, 2010

Originally from Wichita, Cheryl Goyer has lived in the Rogue Valley since 1985. She’s primarily a spinner/dyer/knitter but also weaves. She’s crocheted for years, but unfortunately, doesn’t do it much anymore because it bothers her wrists and hands.

Cheryl Goyer
She thinks it’s goofy, but I love Cheryl’s self portrait!

I found pictures of her wonderful spinning bags on Ravelry, where she goes by cgoyer. Want to know more?

When I asked about the bags, she emailed me that, “Every year me and three of my friends get together after Fall term is over (we all work for a community college) for lunch and have a gift exchange. It’s also a chance to celebrate the birthday of one of the group. It’s a challenge to come up with something unique, handmade, and appropriate for the recipient. That’s the basis of my inspiration, to give a gift from my heart and hands. This was the first year the four of us all had spinning wheels so I thought these small bags would be great to hold an oil bottle and a few other small tools for spinning.”

Cheryl crocheted all of the bags with the same size hook and yarns of varying weights and plies that she spun (unless otherwise noted) to create the dense fabric. The 5″ to 6″ wide bags contain between 60 and 64 stitches. She wanted them to represent spinning or fiber in some way and that each be unique and relevant for the recipient. The handles were twisted with the same yarns used in the bags. The shape of the bags grew more or less organically.

Cheryl tapestry crocheted the background of the Angora Goat Bag with three-ply llama yarn. Handspun sock yarn and BFL (Bluefaced Leicester) was used for the checks, and the goat was crocheted with the fiber it’s know for, mohair.

Cheryl’s Goat Bag
Cheryl’s first spinning bag features an Angora goat and the words, “spin yarn.”

She explained that, “Spin Bag uses the remainders of some sock yarn I had spun for camo socks for my husband along with natural BFL. The fiber from that bag was purchased from the woman who eventually got the Namaste Bag.”

Cheryl’s Spinning Bag
Cheryl’s Spin Bag.

Namaste Bag was crocheted with three-ply Suffolk from a dyeing experiment and natural BFL. That bag went in a silent auction basket at the 2010 NwRSA Conference.

Cheryl’s Peace Bag
Cheryl’s Namaste Bag.

“Other than the dancing grannies and the horse bag I had no specific recipient in mind while I was making them and made my decision once I had a few to choose from. The animal motifs and the dancing granny motif are all borrowed from other sources, mostly knitting. The rest are my creative embellishments.”

“The dancing grannies bag was for my friend that was turning 60. The pink yarn for the dresses was some she was going to toss as it was left over from plying. I took it and said I would use it in something. The flesh tones are mohair as are the green and blue stripes. The dark is natural Corriedale. Some grannies are sleeveless because my friend won’t go sleeveless and I wanted her to know it’s OK for grannies to go sleeveless.”

Cheryl’s Spinning Bags
Cheryl’s Dancing Grannies and Alpaca Bags.

The alpacas were crocheted with handspun alpaca. The rest of the bag is dark Icelandic and light gray Shetland. Cheryl donated this bag as a prize for the 2010 Black Sheep Bingo at the Black Sheep Gathering in Eugene, OR. The recipient is second from the right on the top row in the photo here.

Cheryl’s Sheep Bag
Cheryl’s Jumping Sheep Bag was crocheted with natural light and dark Shetland singles.

“Finally and most recently I made a bag for my oldest daughter who is just learning to spin. She’s a horse woman and has been since very young, hence the horses. I used dark Shetland singles for the background and the rest is Romney singles. I should have used Carol’s tapestry crochet graph paper for the horse’s legs, they would probably have looked less skimpy. I added the manes because the horses just looked naked without them.”

Cheryl’s Horses Bag
Cheryl’s Horses Bag.

I hope this isn’t the last of Cheryl’s tapestry crochet! Perhaps a looser stitch and a bigger hook would lure her back.


Tuesday, February 23rd, 2010

My head is spinning! I’ve been looking at Siglinde’s exquisite tapestry crochet hats, pillows, and tablecloths – trying to decide which ones to include in this blog. Oh, my gosh! This talented German woman is incredibly talented! Her sense of design and color are amazing!

Siglinde inserts her hook into the back loop in the European manner.  She started to crochet clothes for her dolls when she was a little girl. Siglinde’s motifs are inspired by Mexican, Indian and Scandinavian designs. She also modifies embroidery or knitting graphs and is constantly on the lookout for motifs on drapery, dishes, wallpapers, etc. She says there is inspiration everywhere :)

Siglinde’s tapestry crochet bag

Tapestry Crochet Pillows by Siglunde
April 2006

Siglinde’s tapestry crochet hat
September 2006

Siglinde’s tapestry crochet hat
September 2006

Siglinde’s tapestry crochet hat
September 2006

Siglinde’s tapestry crochet tablecloth
October 2006

Siglinde’s tapestry crochet tablecloth
October 2006

Siglinde’s 2006 tapestry crochet bag
December 2006

Siglinde’s 2007 tapestry crochet bag
January 2007

Siglinde’s tapestry crochet bag
April 2007

Two tapestry crochet bags by Siglinde
April 2007

Siglinde’s 2007 tapestry crochet bag
September 2007

Siglinde is a very private person, so we owe a depth of gratitude to her son for sharing his mother’s exquisite masterpieces with the world! To see more of her work, just take a look at his Flickr page.


Sunday, January 31st, 2010

Both Pippi Konstanski and I were introduced years ago to tapestry crochet from the same source – Guatemala. While I took apart a bag to see how it was done, she examined hers closely, pulling some stitches aside with a small crochet hook to see that the thread was carried underneath. Years later she discovered it was popularly know as “tapestry crochet”. What follows is her tapestry crochet story.

Pippi Konstanski
Pippi Konstanski of Pocatello, Idaho.

“I made the bag below sitting in the sun at a folk festival in Oregon. I found the earring part in the dirt, and incorporated it into the bag, as the triangle in the piece matched the ones on my bag.”

Pippi’s Bauble Bag
Bauble Bag, Summer of 1997

“The bag (below left) is the second bag made with this design. The first was in different colors, and was made as a gift for a friend. The bottom of the bag on the right was done in 4 colors spiraling together. The spiral was inspired by Celtic spiral designs, but the colors reminded me of Native American Indian designs, so I added the tassels on the sides, like the fringes they often added to their leather bags.”

Pippi’s tapestry crochet bags
Triangles Bag
, Spring 1998, and Spiral Bag, Summer 1998

“I made this bag (below) when my daughters and I went to Ireland for a bike trip. We flew into Heathrow on a bank holiday weekend, so we spent the weekend with some friends. Sharon and I went to a local church flea market, and I bought two skeins of hand spun and dyed wool yarn. Sharon had an extra crochet hook, which she gave me, and I used up both skeins to make this bag.”

Pippi’s Irish Bag
September 1998

“I made this little shoulder bag (below) for when I went out and didn’t want to carry anything but the bare minimum. I sewed Swarovski bicone beads in places for s bit of sparkle. Just another cute shoulder bag for myself.”

Pippi’s Bag
Pippi’s Bag, 8” x 5”, Spring of 1999

The beaded pattern on the next bag was inspired by a traditional Croatian embroidery design.

Pippi’s Bead Tapestry Crochet Bag
Bead tapestry crochet bag, March 2006

Pippi made the Sunrise Bag and the Chocolate Bar Bag (below) as a sort of a challenge. She bought a set of 20 skeinlets of different yarns from an Etsy seller’s shop, then tried to put them together into a meaningful pattern, using the mix of colors on hand, all of which were quite different. The triangle stone button on the Sunrise Bag is also from Etsy.

Pippi’s Sunrise Bag
Sunrise Bag, 8” x 5.5”, August 2008

Pippi’s Chocolate Bag
Chocolate Bar Bag, August 2008

The bags below were tapestry crocheted with yummy hand-dyed, 100% silk yarn from Etsy’s Hedgehogfibres.

Pippi’s silk tapestry crocheted bags.
The 7” x 5” bag (left) dates to October and the 10″ x 7″ (not including the strap) Seahorse Bag dates to November 2008.

“I made this tapestry crochet purse with two straps, so I could wear it like a backpack when riding my bike. The flap was made with a piece of painted velvet I got from my friend Corona, who makes amazingly beautiful velvet hats.”

Pippi’s Two Strap Bag

Pipi’s husband inspired the bags below. She explains, “I was making a bag for a friend of a friend, and asked what colors he liked, and my husband suggested a black bag with a red skull. “You can do that?” he asked? I started looking at pictures of real skulls, and designed this pattern”.

Pippi’s skull bags, 5.5
Skull Bags, each is 5.5” x 3.5, February 2009

“This bag (below) was inspired by the variegated yarn called Limbo Mexiko that I bought at The Loft. When crocheted in single crochet, it looks like serape material. I used tapestry crochet to insert my skull pattern into the design, then added crocheted roses under the skull, and a row of turquoise teardrops and two tiny bone skull beads above. The pattern is the same on both sides. I had just enough of the variegated yarn left to twist into the cord for the shoulder strap, and I added a scalloped fringe along the bottom of the bag to edge the design.”

Pippi’s Dia de Los Muertos Bag
Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) Shoulder Bag, October 2009

Pippi’s inspired by everything! She explains, “The shape and color of a tree leaf, the contour of the mountains against the blue sky, ancient mosaics, carved stonework on buildings, the ever expanding circles in a pool of water when a drop falls on it, needlework patterns, lichens painting a rock with bright colors. You name it!”

Pippi is also a talented jeweler. To see more of her creative work, just take a look at Indiepublic and Flickr and Etsy and Facebook and her blog and she’s on Twitter, too!

La Guapa

Thursday, January 7th, 2010

Betsy Gude (aka LaGuapa on Flickr and LaGuapa on Ravelry) taught herself how to tapestry crochet when she stumbled on my tapestry crochet website a couple of years ago. She’s already finished four tapestry crochet bags and has two more in process.

Betsy Gude
Betsy, La Guapa, tapestry crocheting.

Betsy was born in LA. Her a mother was from Bogota and her father was Norwegian. The family spent 6 years of her childhood in Colombia, and she later lived there with her grandmother for a year.

When I asked if la guapa meant “beautiful” in Spanish, she explained that she got that nickname after living in Spain for five years. In her own words, “It’s a very very common term in Spain and I used it often when I moved back to the states. Hence the nickname. Has little if anything to do with being beautiful. Spaniards use it all the time. It’s like saying, ‘Hi Sweetie.’ Guapo, the masculine version, is just as common.”

“I live in New York City and have been married to Gabriel, a Colombian from Medellin, for 10 years. We go back every two years or so. On one of those trips we stayed with one of Gabriel’s cousins. She was crocheting a huge bedspread using white thread. Wherever she went she took it with her. It was a wedding present for a friend. I was mesmerized. It was very Garcia Marquez. Wherever she went, she’d pull out this huge bag with the bedspread and just start crocheting while chatting away. I had quit smoking a few months before, and I thought crocheting would be a great way to occupy my time. So, when I got home, I bought a how-to book, and taught myself. I started making simple bags. And when I saw your tapestry crochet site, I realized that I could make a version of the Colombian ‘mochillas’ using tapestry crochet.”

Columbian mochila bag
A looped mochila/mochilla bag from Columbia.

So it’s not surprising that Betsy’s motifs are based on the boldly patterned mochila/mochilla bags of the Arhuacos from northern Colombia. College students in Bogota use these bags like US students use back packs. Although described as being woven, crocheted, or knit, the Arhuacan bags are actually made by looping (pulling the fiber all the way through a small loop). The geometric patterns translate well to tapestry crochet.

Betsy likes to crochet with cotton and small hooks, sizes C, D, and E. The bag (below) was her first tapestry crochet bag.

La Guapa’s tapestry crochet mochilla
Betsy’s first mochila, tapestry crocheted with Lily Sugar’n Cream Solid, March 2008.

The bag below is her favorite – the one she uses every day.

Betsy’s Red Bag
Tapestry crocheted with EL. D. Mouzakis Butterfly Super 10 in March 2009.

La Guapa’s green tapestry crochet bag
Andrea’s Mochila, tapestry crocheted with EL. D. Mouzakis Butterfly Super 10 in July 2009.

“I made this (below) for my sister who wanted a bag to go with jeans and whatever top she was wearing. I’m not thrilled with it because there’s not enough contrast in the two colors of the pattern. It’s more dramatic if there’s more contrast. It’s also not wide enough. I’d make the next one using this yarn 8” across the bottom. I started putting a little pocket on the inside of these bags for a cell phone. Otherwise you’re constantly fishing it out from the bottom!”

La Guapa’s Nena Bag
Nena’s Mochila tapestry crocheted with Lion Brand Lion Cotton Solid in August 2009 (7 x 13 x 26″ handle).

Nena’s new bag
Nena’s new bag with more contrasting colors.

“I am not liking this bag (below) at all. The colors are horrible together! But there’s so much work in it already, that I can’t bear to tear it out… so I keep adding to it thinking it’ll get better… but it just gets uglier. I will eventually tear it out. The yarn is too pretty to not put it to better use.”

La Guapa’a bag
Betsy’s Icky Bag.

I love how Betsy has incorporated her heritage into her work and I think that her nickname is very appropriate because both she and her tapestry crochet bags are beautiful! I don’t think her Icky Bag is so bad, either!


Thursday, December 3rd, 2009

Barbro Heikinmatti (hillevi3 on Ravelry) belongs to the small Swedish-speaking minority in Finland. She attended my tapestry crochet workshop in Vasa / Vaasa, Finland, in 2005. Like most of the others, she was already an accomplished tapestry crocheter, but did manage to learn a few new things.

Barbro’s bead tapestry crochet basket
Iiro’s been eating from his bead tapestry crochet basket since 2005!

Barbro explains, “I think I did my first tapestry crochet when I crocheted/knitted a Korsnäs sweater in the early 80’s. Since then I have crocheted a few (giggle) purses and bags (more giggle). Yes, I love tapestry crochet, and thanks to Carol I learned how to add beads. I mostly crochet by simply casting on and see what will happen. That means I keep unraveling a lot.” :)

The sweater below was “Knitted / crocheted at Marketta Luutonen’s first workshop in Vasa in the 80’s. This traditional sweater was made for men in the 19th century, in the 20th and 21st also for women. Nowadays they are often changed into cardigans. Note that the tapestry crochet is worked in the back loop.”

Barbro’s Korsnas Sweater
Knitted and tapestry crocheted (into the back loop) wih Novita Marimba wool in 1984.

Detail of Barbro’s Korsnas Sweater
Detail of the sweater’s crochet and knitting.

“This bag (below) is perfect when I walk around the house doing things. I hang the purse around my neck.”

Barbros’s iPod Case
Tapestry crocheted with Sandnes Garn Mandarin Petit cotton in August 2007.

The bag (below) was “Improvised from Carol Ventura’s patterns in her book, More Tapestry Crochet. I can’t resist crocheted shopping bags and purses. This will be big enough to keep a few books and all the necessary things i.e. lipstick, pen, keys, wallet… Bird from Vibeke Lind’s “Sticka efter gamla nordiska mönster.”

Barbro’s Shopping Bag
Tapestry crocheted with Novita Kotiväki cotton in July 2008.

Barbro’s Bird Bag
Barbro’s Bird Bag crocheted in April-May 2009.

“I do have to make a purse for my favorite spindle, don’t I??”

Barbro’s Comet Purse
Tapestry crocheted in April 2009.

Barbro’s Horse Around Purse
Tapestry crocheted cotton and linen Horse Around Purse, May 2009.

Barbro tapestry crocheting
Barbro tapestry crocheting a cover for her spindle.

“My spindle, Precious (born at Journey Wheel), needed a cozy little home. I stole some elements from the Korsnäs sweater and crocheted them into both loops (traditionally worked into the back loop). I can’t resist the S-slinga (S-arabesque, festoon, creeper or whatever you prefer), so I use it quite often. The dancing girls are also fun to crochet. Bead crochet is a joy. I learned the technique at Carol Ventura’s workshop. I finally found a nice way to use a few meters of my handspun variegated merino-silkyarn, leftover from mother-in-law’s shawl.”

Barbro’s spindle holder
Not one day without a thread / Sine filo, nulla dies unum spindle holder crocheted in November 2009.

How did she do it? “Well, first you have to count your stitches. I had about 88 in the round, and the letters were planned to be 6-7 rounds high. I started to sketch in Excel, using colors close to my yarns. Carol Ventura has a great graph paper in her book More Tapestry Crochet, but I didn’t have it with me that day. I soon saw I had to crochet the text in two lines. I spread out the text to look balanced and started to crochet. It was GREAT fun!”

“I bead crocheted the rim, sew an inner lining, started thinking about how to close the purse. A casing was easiest to make. And Precious could go to bed in it’s new home!”

What will she be doing next? “Thanks to audio books that are now available everywhere, I will most certainly crochet more. I can’t tapestry crochet and read books simultaneously, which is what I do with knitting, lace crochet, and this autumn also spinning. My handspun merino-silk yarns are perfect for many projects: small purses, fingerless gloves etc. Maybe I’ll also start sketching own patterns, but that’s uncertain because of all the wonderful ethnic designs from all over the world that can be used.”

Are you hooked yet? If so, you can see more of Barbro’s work on Ravelry and you’ll want to follow her trilingual (Swedish / English / Finnish) blog.

Trapper Joel

Saturday, November 14th, 2009

Many readers have asked, “Where do you find the people you feature in your blog?” Well, some of them email me with questions or comments and others post pictures of their work in the online tapestry crochet groups. I found Joel Erickson’s wonderful hats and bags in the Tapestry Crochet group at Ravelry, where he goes by the name, Trapper336.

His introduction to tapestry crochet is quite interesting. Joel explains, “It all started when I read the book, Snow Walker’s Companion, by Garrett and Alexandra Conover. They have winter camping skills in the book and told and showed some “Chimo” hats which I later found out are called Pang or Nasaq or Nassak made by the Inuit. I looked them up on the internet and found some for sale but thought they were kind of spendy. Now I think different.”

“Being laid up from a spine surgery I thought I would learn to crochet and see if I could make one. I’ve messed with string before – being a rancher it is everywhere. Bale twine to ropes for ranch work. I have also braided for a long time so I thought it was just another string (yarn).”

“I went to my county Extension Home Economist and got a pamphlet on crochet for 4-H ers. I also bought a learn crochet book at The Yarn Stash in Minot ND and away I went. Little did I know. I am left handed but I decided to bite the bullet and learn right handed because I thought it would be easier down the trail. I started my quest in November of 2008.”

Joel’s first tapestry crochet piece
Joel’s first tapestry crochet attempt in January of 2009.

“My Mother had some old acrylic yarn and that is what I started out with. I have since found out wool is nicer. I found tapestry crochet information on the web and watched the videos and asked more questions. I got some graph paper and drew my own designs on some and used some charts from other sources.”

Joel’s Second and Third Nassak Hats
Joel’s second and third Nassak style hats, Plymouth Yarn Encore Worsted, 2009. He realized that, “The top (left hat) turned out better with the new increase tech I used with Shayne39‘s advice. I figured out how to make one square edge on the design on this one (right hat).”

Yarnfloozie (the Yarn Stash owner) got me hooked up with Ravelry which has been a good thing. I asked questions of lots of Ravelry people while I learned. Then I found out the hats were done in what was called tapestry crochet or stranded or intarsia I still have questions about all the terminology. Just a few weeks ago I found out about using the front loop or back loop only. Looking forward to trying that out.”

Joel’s Fourth and Fifth Nassak Style Hats
Joel’s fourth (March 2009) and fifth (May 2009) Nassak style hats. His instructions for the left hat are posted to Ravelry as a free download.

Joel’s Tapestry Crocheted Hats
Joel’s hats made with Brown Sheep’s Lamb’s Pride Super Wash, April 2009 (left) and Patons Decor (right)

Joel’s Tapestry Crocheted Dice Bags
Joel’s Dice Bags, tapestry crocheted with scraps of yarn, August 2009.

“I am still learning. Yarnfloozie told me to enter some of my projects in the North Dakota State Fair, so I entered my first wool Nassaq just for fun. I didn’t think I had a chance but was flabbergasted when I got a blue ribbon. Also a white ribbon on a felted solid color hat.”

Joel described the next four hats on his Ravelry project pages: “Parts of the geometric pattern (lower left hat) are from Salish Indian Sweaters by Priscilla Gibson-Roberts (photo by Yarnfloozie), it is hat two for the Bible Camp auction.”

“Pi r round… cornbread r square. This was nice yarn only a little short in length. Only had about 18 inches left. First time using a multicolored Wool Yarn. Finished off with a crab stitch.  I thought the numbers could have showed better till I saw it from a distance and it worked. Started with an increase of 5 for awhile then went to 7 and then back to 5 as I got done with the top getting more dome shaped. I hope this intimidates the crowd at Wednesday night trivia at The Blue Rider.”

Joel’s Sixth Nassak Hat and his Pi Hat
Nassak style hat (May 2009) and Pi Hat, Brown Sheep Nature Spun worsted wool, September 2009

“I saw Absinthia’s Mobile Phone Pouch and had to smile. Here in North Dakota we have some turkey buzzards. They are amazing fliers and you usually have to look into the sun to see them. Also it reminded me of a cartoon in a magazine I saw once of two buzzards sitting in a tree and one says to the other, ‘Patience my ass I’m going to kill some thing.’ So that is why I had to make this hat (lower left).”

“Did a different increase sequence (lower right hat) and liked it better 5 stitches per round, then started staggering the increases part way down. I think this bird could be Big Bird’s evil brother 😉 ”

Joel’s Bird Motif Hats
Both hats were tapestry crocheted in August of 2009 with Brown Sheep Nature Spun worsted wool.

“Here is some thing I have found out since I learned how to crochet. I have worn some of my hats and people stop me and ask me about them and where I got them. I tell them I made them my self after learning to crochet and some give me the stink eye like they don’t believe me but it is fun and makes one feel good. Now that I know a little more than I did a year ago I will stop some one and ask if they are wearing something they made them self. I can tell the difference now. 😉 ”

Joel Erickson tapestry crocheting
Joel tapestry crocheting a hackey sack at The Yarn Stash, “Just making it up as I go along out of crochet cotton.

To see more of Joel’s great work and other tapestry crochet designs, check out what’s going on in the Tapestry Crochet groups at Ravelry, Yahoo, Flickr, Soiree, Facebook, and elsewhere!

Amazing Esther Holsen

Monday, October 5th, 2009

When she’s not waiting on customers at Earth Guild in Asheville, North Carolina, Esther Holsen can sometimes be seen tapestry crocheting there. She explains, “If I work on this stuff in the store, I constantly get asked, ‘What’s it going to be?’ I do not have an answer, or much interest in coming up with one. ‘This, but somewhat bigger’ is about the best I can do.”

“Tapestry crochet caught my imagination instantly. The design possibilities are endlessly fascinating. I always like media that allow me to make pictures. Sooner or later I always want to make a tree and some creatures. Images that are somewhat representational and wholly fantastical seem to be indigenous to tapestry crochet, which suits me very well.”

“I played with tapestry crochet some when I first saw Carol’s book, and got sort of obsessive about it maybe two years ago. I seem to have 20-30 pieces around, and at least as many again have been given away. They tend to be in series; each one sort of fixes things from the previous one that I realize I could have done differently – or lets me try out things that I think of in the course of working the one before.”

Tapestry Crochet Cap by Esther Holsen
Cap, commercially dyed Dragon Tail 4/2 cotton, Summer 2007

Tapestry Crochet Cap by Esther Holsen
Cap, commercially dyed Dragon Tail 4/2 cotton, Summer 2007

“At first I made a lot of pouches and bags, but eventually settled into making more-or-less circular pieces. I find that eight increases per round make a spiral lie flat. (With plain single crochet, it takes six, but these stitches are a little bit taller, because of the carried strand, so the circumference grows more each time around.) I usually stack the increases, so that my pieces tend to have eight sections, divided radially (with a slight spiral), and finish as soft octagons. (The centers are often the same “pinwheel” design, which spirals the increases around faster.) At first I used the same design repeated all the way around, most often alternating a pattern and its mirror image. More recently I have used four design units in each piece, each one mirrored once, ending up with overall bilateral symmetry.”

Tapestry Crochet Bag by Esther Holsen
Bag, black and hand dyed and commercially dyed 4/2 cotton, Fall 2007

Tapestry Crochet Bags by Esther Holsen
Kokopelli / Seahorse Bags, black and hand dyed 4/2 cotton

“I used Carol’s graph paper for a while, but my stitch/row ratio and skew were a little bit different. Since I almost always use the same yarn and hook, I made a digital picture of a piece, and worked up graph paper that matched it. Since I generally mirror the designs, I cheated just a little and off-set the rows 50/50. I don’t usually draw out the mirrored image, but read the pattern right-to-left, then left-to-right. I expect that doing this will help to stave off Alzheimer’s, or at least be very good practice for something.”

Esther’s tapestry crochet setup
Crocheting Silver Apples of the Moon with her ingenious setup.

“For geometric pieces, it couldn’t matter less, for more or less representational pieces a closer match helped. I actually took a picture of a piece, put it on the computer and drew on top of it in a graphics pattern to get my proportions. Since I have been using the same yarn all the time, I just did it once.”

Tapestry Crochet by Esther Holsen
Water Lilies, black and hand dyed 4/2 cotton, 14″ diameter, Spring 2008

“Virtually all the tapestry crochet I’ve done has been in the same yarn; a 4/2 (about sport weight) mat cotton, with a #1 (2.75mm) hook. The black is commercially dyed (Dragon Tale), the rest is hand-dyed. I dye by direct application with Procion MX dyes. My dye-skeins are about two yards around (36 turns, or 72 yards), loosely chained and tied head-to-tail. I apply the dye thickened with sodium alginate from squeeze bottles. (I can estimate more accurately whether I have enough of a color or color-set if all the skeins start out the same size. An ounce of 4/2 has 100 yards, a yard does about 20 stitches.)”

When I asked Esther if she had a hand in naming Earth Guild’s Dragon Tail thread, she explained, “I have been drawing ads and general graphic presentation for Earth Guild since I joined the group in about 1973. At that time we had a bookstore called “Grateful Union”, as well as Earth Guild. When we started to do mail-order, it was under the name Earth Guild/Grateful Union Mail Order Service, or EGGUMOS. This sounded to me like the name of Ouroburos, or, more generally, some sort of dragon. Dragons, which I like to draw, appeared from then on most Earth Guild pictures. Many years later, when we started to put together a set of yarns, and were casting about for a name, we settled on Dragon Tale. BJ’s suggestion, sort of a pun (Tale/Tail).”

Graphics by Esther Holsen
Esther’s Persephone and Herons.

Tapestry Crochet Beret by Esther Holsen
Beret, black and hand dyed 4/2 cotton, Summer 2008

The large piece below with yin yang – like motifs was commissioned for the center of the ceiling of a yurt-like building. Esther traded it for acupuncture treatments.

Tapestry Crochet by Esther Holsen
Untitled, black and hand dyed Dragon Tail 4/2 cotton, 27″ wide, Spring 2009

Baying Tapestry by Esther Holsen
The first of Esther’s Tree Series: Baying, black and hand dyed 4/2 cotton, 20″ wide, Summer 2009

Tapestry Crochet by Esther Holsen
Baying, black and hand dyed 4/2 cotton, 20″ wide, Summer 2009

“Inspiration I don’t really know how to address. It seems like sooner or later, in any medium, I start trying to generate the same sorts of images, vaguely mythological, a little less vaguely “nature” based. They seem like they are already inside me, looking for different ways to emerge. Attached are pictures that I made, they seem related to me.”

“I generally do more or less the same thing with changes till I am more or less satisfied with it.”

Esther Holsen’s summer 2009 tapestries
Esther also tapestry crocheted both of these this summer.

“I have included a picture of the back of the one with so many background color changes, just for the sheer horror of it. The ends, of course, just get clipped off (even that takes a while), but I like to do it after the piece is washed, in case they pull in a little.”

Front and back of Esther Holsens tapestry
Front and back of Tree of Life, tapestry crocheted Summer, 2009.

Esther’s Apples of the Sun and the Moon Tapestries
Esther’s Golden Apples of the Sun and Silver Apples of the Moon tapestries, each is 20″ wide, 2009.

Esther Holsen tapestry crocheting
Esther Holsen tapestry crocheting Silver Apples of the Moon at home.

“The one (below) is an effort to use up bits and pieces, and to have something I could carry around, requiring fewer little balls of cotton and no graphs.”

Esther Holsen’s Whirl tapestry
Esther finished this a few days ago.

Esther says, “I’m not sure where to go from here, I’m nowhere near through playing with this stage.”

I love what Esther has done already and REALLY look forward to seeing her next pieces. I usually don’t join the debate of, “Is it art?” or “Is it craft?” but Esther’s curiosity, talent, and motivation have propelled her across the line from craftsperson to artist, don’t you think?

New World Sweater

Wednesday, July 29th, 2009

The four human races are featured on my latest online pattern (for right and left handed crocheters), The New World Sweater. Why is each person the same size, with their heart in the same place? Well, the way I have always seen it, everyone is the same inside. When we join hands and work together, we unite in love. I can dream, can’t I?

Front of The New World Sweater
The New World Sweater

Tapestry Crochet Sweater
Back view of The New World Sweater.

The instructions for the first version of this project were published in the Winter 2005 Crochet Fantasy. I usually make several versions of a project before submitting it for publication, but the editor requested that I tapestry crochet a coat for the next issue. By the time the yarn arrived, I only had a few weeks to complete it. I crocheted the first panel twice before settling on what you see below, but was sorry that I couldn’t work on it some more before it went to press.

The Whole World Coat
Whole World Coat in Crochet Fantasy, Winter 2005.

The format was inspired by kimono construction. Two long panels were crocheted first, then each was folded in half to create the front and back. After sewing the side seams, the sleeves were crocheted onto the armhole in rounds. After the sleeves were finished, a panel was crocheted to connect the back, the two halves were sewn together, then a border was crocheted around the edge. Three yarns were worked at the same time to create the people motif; two yarns were carried while another was crocheted.

I’m so sorry that Crochet Fantasy went out of business, not only because they encouraged designers to experiment, but they also returned the project and only purchased project instructions for a specific issue, allowing designers to sell the same pattern after the issue was out of print.

This is the most complicated pattern I’ve ever published and unfortunately, I was never paid for it because of the magazine’s demise! Since I still own the copyright, though, I’m able to continue tweaking the instructions and publish the instructions.

For my New World Sweater, I selected a finer yarn – Classic Elite Inca Alpaca instead of Rowan Chunky wool – and a larger hook. I usually get my yarn for free, since it’s good advertisement for the company when the pattern is published, but I bought the alpaca since it would be self published.

Not having a yarn store nearby cost me dearly since the online colors didn’t match the colors I received (colors on computer screens vary a lot!). I had to buy more than twice the amount of yarn needed in order to get colors that would work. The sleeve was especially difficult since I needed a color for the “red” race that contrasted with the red of the hearts. I still wasn’t happy with the heart colors, size, and drape of the second version of the sweater below, though.

Second version of the Worldly Coat
Second version of the Whole World Sweater crocheted with a size K hook and alpaca.

The shorter third version (below left) was crocheted with a size N hook, with chain stitches in the corners to make the panels more rectangular, the single heart at the end of each panel was eliminated, and the rounds were joined with a slip stitch in the center back panel instead of at the corner. I began each round with two chain stitches, but realized later that one chain stitch would have made a less obvious join.

Third and second versions of the Worldly Coat
Third and second versions of the New World Sweater.

The sleeve was also adjusted on the third version; two rounds of people would make it too long, so more frogging. The final version has several plain rounds at the top of the sleeve to center a single round of people lengthwise.

New World Sweater
The final version of the New World Sweater.

For a closer look, you’ll be able to see it during the Chain Link Fashion Show next week in Buffalo.

Next time I crochet it, I’ll probably choose an even lighter yarn – perhaps a bamboo blend. Better yet – why don’t you try it with another yarn and let me know how it turns out!

Harry Khan in Pakistan

Monday, June 29th, 2009

The internet has helped me meet so many interesting people, including Harry Khan (aka Usman Ali Khan), who is  from Abbottabad, Pakistan. We’ve been corresponding online about backstrap weaving and tapestry crochet for several years. Then, as now, he’s adventurous, creative, and very enthusiastic about life and fiber art. He explains his introduction to crochet best, so I’ll let him tell you in his own words:

“I was first introduced to crochet at a very young age when I saw my grandmother crocheting. As time went on, I forgot about crochet altogether as crochet is not considered a man’s forte here. It’s mainly considered a woman’s hobby and even with them, crochet is not as popular as it used to be in the past.”

“Crochet items continued to fascinate me but I was still not provoked enough to learn it, until I came across The Blandford Book of Traditional Handicrafts, that had a chapter on crochet and a gallery full of projects that could be made with various handicrafts. This was also my introduction to macrame and a lot of other crafts. But although I wanted to learn crochet, I found it difficult to follow the book’s instructions.”

“Then finally I decided that I should learn from a person and who else was more experienced than Grandma? So I finally learned the basic stitches from her. She taught me how to make a chain and then got me started on single and double crochet.”

“After making small samplers for practice, I came back home and searched online for crochet and saw many different patterns and instructions and started making granny squares and doilies. My internet searches for crochet finally led me to and for the first time I was introduced to tapestry crochet. It looked easy but as I started to make a sample I was very confused as how to turn back after completing one row in flat tapestry crochet, but after much contemplating and help from Dr.Carol Ventura, I was finally able to make the rows from left to right and right to left.”

“The first tapestry crochet I made was the Wrist Warmer in 2003. I always take this wrist warmer with me whenever I go for hiking in the Northern areas. Somehow they seem to belong among the high mountains.”

Wrist Warmers by Harry Khan
Harry’s acrylic Wrist Warmers, 2003.

“After experimenting with flat tapestry crochet, I was hooked onto round TC after seeing the very beautiful potholders on the Splynda crochet site, which is no longer online.”

“I liked the idea and tried my hand at making pot holders. I made the rocky mountain pattern from her site.”

Harry’s Rocky Mountain
Harry’s Rocky Mountain from a Splynda pattern.

“After that I tried my hand at making a pattern. So I made the dogs facing each other graph, all the while preparing for my annual exams :) I liked the idea of making a net in the centre, surrounded with solid tapestry crochet.”

Mats by Harry Khan
Harry’s cotton pot holders.

“The Llama came as an inspiration and while experimenting with designing the graph, it changed into somewhat of a mythological animal.”

Harry’s Tapestry Crochet Llama
Harry’s acrylic

“In 2004 I made my first tapestry crochet cap. The pattern of the triangles on the side came from Indian caps which have multi colored sides, too. I first made a flat tapestry crochet strip long enough to go around the head. Then for the upper portion I tapestry crocheted in rounds and made it large enough to cover the head. After that, I joined the two pieces with single crochet and sewed a lining on the inside of the cap.”

Harry Khan’s first Tapestry Crochet Cap
Harry’s first tapestry crochet Cap, 2004.

“After that I grew bold and started making another cap with a more detailed motif on the sides using flat TC. I used the flower motif from the Afghani cross stitch cushion in the center for the other piece.”

Tapestry Crochet Hats by Harry Khan
More of Harry’s Caps.

“It was in May 2004 that I started my TC pillow. I was inspired by the Afghani cross stitch pillows (below) and their variety of colors and motifs and planned in my mind how to convert them into TC.

Afghani Embroidery
Cross stitch pillow covers from Afghanistan.

“I started it at my hostel, while the summer was at it’s peak and the temperature was above 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees F). The wool was tough to handle and it wasn’t easy as the pillow grew in size. It took about two weeks working in the afternoons to finish it.”

Pillows by Harry Khan
Harry’s acrylic Pillows, based on the Afghani designs.

“In the end, I would like to Thank Dr. Carol who encouraged me at every step to learn tapestry crochet (and backstrap weaving as well) and helped me with her advice and books all these years.”

“I would like to say that with patience and practice everyone can learn tapestry crochet but the important thing is to learn the art of making lives as colorful as the colorful tapestry crochet.”

Harry’s Crafty Threads blog and his Flickr pages showcase more of his eclectic fiber art. And for you Ravelers out there, he’s Harrykhan. He has been away from tapestry crochet for a while, but says, “I intend to finish this piece (below) now which is again based on the same Afghani cross stitch motifs.”

Harry Khan and his unfinished tapestry crochet piece.
Harry and his WIP tapestry crochet pillow cover.

So what else does Harry do? Well, he’s only one test away from being Dr. Harry. When I told my young daughter years ago that I was studying for my doctorate, she asked if that meant I could take care of her when she was sick. I explained that I was going to be a different kind of doctor – but that I could still take care of her. Harry, on the other hand,  will be the type of doctor that takes care of sick people. Based on what I’ve learned about Harry, I suspect his waiting room will be a real visual treat!

Lodz Exhibit Wrap Up

Friday, May 29th, 2009

The plan for my exhibit was to bring the crocheted tapestries to Poland on the plane, help with the installation, travel while the show was up, repack everything, then fly back home. So far, the plan is working.

Most of the framed tapestries fit into our regular suitcases, but I purchased a mixer case for the large Mother’s Advice series. International flights allow each passenger 2 check-in bags free of charge and a carry-on, and Andrzej and I were able to fit everything into our bags, so I didn’t have to pay anything to ship the exhibit to and from Poland!

The packed exhibit.
All ready to go! Names make the bags easy to locate and help keep them from being misplaced.

A delayed flight made our connection tight – but we made it! My brother-in-law and sister-in-law met us at the Warsaw airport and then drove us to Lodz. I really lucked out when I remarried ten years ago. Not did I get a wonderful husband, but Andrzej comes from a very loving and accomplished family.

The installation.
Andrzej Kuab and his team
made quick work of the installation at the Central Museum of Textiles.

The Curator, Carol, and the Museum Director.
Curator Jolanta Piwonska, me, and Museum Director Norbert Zawisza next to the exhibition poster.

Lodz Textile Museum Opening
The public was very receptive during the opening! What a relief!

Since no one there understood how tapestry crochet was done, I demonstrated during the opening reception. They were not only amazed that my pieces were crocheted, but also surprised that there were no threads on the back.

Lodz Textile Museum Opening
When finished, this piece will be in my
Mother’s Advice Series.

My work fit in well with two other museum exhibits; a contemporary needlework exhibit that showcased Polish crochet, knitting, tatting, and cross stitch, and another exhibition that featured large, woven tapestries.

Lodz Needlework Exhibit.
A biennial contemporary Polish needlework exhibit at the Central Museum of Textiles in Lodz.

Contemporary Tapestry Exhibit
A contemporary woven tapestry exhibit at the Central Museum of Textiles.

The Curator arranged for me to see some early twentieth century crochet in the storage area of the museum. There was no tapestry crochet, but an interesting variety of crocheted edgings on handwoven towels, clothing, bedding, and tablecloths.

Handmade towel from Polesie, Poland.
The crocheted edging complements the bold geometric pattern of this handwoven linen towel from Polesie, Poland (dating to 1920-1930), in the collection of the Central Museum of Textiles.

Blouse from Chociw, Rawski, Poland
The crocheted borders and embroidery on this handwoven linen blouse (1938) from Chociw, Rawski region, Poland, in the collection of the Central Museum of Textiles, are exquisite!

Bed Spread from Debam Opoczynski, Poland
Crocheted borders surround this colorful handwoven wool bedspread (1955) from Deba, Opoczynski region, Poland, in the collection of the Central Museum of Textiles.

Below is one of the thirty six tapestries from the exhibit. It pretty much sums up my life because I worked a really long time before this could happen.

What Experience Taught Me from Lessons Series
What Experience Taught Me from my Lessons Series.

The exhibit came down today – and we fly home on Sunday. I love to get away, but am really looking forward to being home again – to catch up with everything that needs my attention – and so that I can plan my next adventure!

You’re invited!

Wednesday, May 6th, 2009

Do you need an excuse to visit Poland? Well – here it is! You’re invited to my tapestry crochet exhibition at the Central Museum of Textiles in Lodz (pronounced woodg), Poland. It opens next week at 1 PM on Tuesday, May 12th, and will be up through May 28th.

Exhibition Invitation
Your official invitation.

The Harvest
The Harvest was inspired by Polish and Mexican icons, Mexican milagros, personal convictions, and childhood memories.

How did I get my tapestry crochet into such a prestigious venue? Well, when my sister-in-law brought me to the museum in 2001, I thought, “Wouldn’t it be great to have my work displayed here some day?”

When my husband and I began planning our next visit, I thought, “If I want an exhibit, then I need to make a proposal.” So I did – and the museum accepted it – and now you are invited to see it! They chose a very appropriate piece for the invitation – don’t you think?


Wednesday, February 11th, 2009

Heidi Zingg Knöpfli and her husband, Dr. of Theology h.c. Hans Knöpfli, flew to Tennessee last Fall to lecture at our University about the crafts and culture of Cameroon. Both originally from Switzerland, Hans worked as a pastor and a craftsman in Cameroon for more than thirty years and Heidi joined him for seven years there. She assisted Hans with quality control of the craft products intended for sale, designed new products for the Handicraft Centre, and worked with the Christian Women Fellowship of the Presbyterian Church before they returned to Switzerland. She is now co-president of the Swiss Protestant Women and advises NGOs about how to raise funds for their projects.

Knopfli lecture
Heidi advanced the projected images while Hans lectured.

My husband, Andrzej, and I are very interested in the art and culture of Cameroon and it was while researching their crafts that we found Hans. His five books (seen in the above photo) are the best we’ve ever read about crafts because they not only describe their appearance and construction, but Hans places them into cultural context by discussing their daily and ceremonial use.

Heidi is also an author and her manuscript, Schuhe für meine Kinder (Shoes for my Children), that features 18 short biographies of women at the grassroot level in Cameroon, is currently being edited.

We really enjoyed getting to know them the week they stayed with us and learned so much! We were full of questions and they were full of answers. We taught them a few things too, though, including tapestry crochet!

Heidi Crocheting
Heidi tapestry crocheting a cell phone bag in Swiss and US colors.

Heidi knew how to crochet, but had never done tapestry crochet, so I gave her some beaded thread and a hook and after showing how to carry and change colors, she began a cell phone bag. Heidi was a quick study and had no trouble placing the beads on the front of the fabric! She began the bag the day before she left and almost finished it on it on the flight home.

Detail of Heidi tapestry crocheting
Heidi’s randomly placed beads really enhance the stripes, don’t you think?

Heidi’s cell phone bag
Heidi’s cell phone bag, tapestry crocheted with size 3 crochet cotton and size 8 beads.

I’m really looking forward to seeing what she will do next!

Annie’s Obsession

Saturday, January 17th, 2009

Annie Henson (AKA Annie’s Hands™) of Wheeling, West Virginia, was very excited to find the Tapestry Crochet Yahoo group. She explains, “Someone in the dim reaches of the past taught me to single, double and triple crochet. From there I made all sorts of patterned blankets. Then I tried working in two colors, and have been having fun with that for a few years. And then yesterday I came across the term for what I have been doing – tapestry crochet! And I found this group! Woo Hoo!”

“So I posted some photos of a blanket I made for myself. It has a fair amount of what I now know to call Tapestry Crochet. The ladies in the knitting/crocheting group I attend didn’t know what to make of me and my oddball work. Now I can share the news. I Am Not The Only One Who Does This!”

<Annie’s own blanket
The horse and pony on Annie’s Own Blanket were adapted from the Tap Dancing Lizard book. Everything she tried right out of the book came out tall and skinny, though, since the book was written for knitters, so she tweaked the graphs to work for crochet.

“I was beginning to experiment with using two colors of yarn in the same row to make pretty things. I had not yet heard the term tapestry crochet. I just got to wondering if it were possible to work with two threads at once and change colors along a row. Turns out it was possible. At that point I began to look at books for inspiration.”

“Once I became interested in Celtic patterns, I began to look in various books. The Celtic knots on some of the blankets are from Celtic Knotwork Designs by Sheila Sturrock and Celtic Geometric Quilts by Camille Remme, but were not charted before I got hold of them. They had me tearing my hair out until I got them wrestled onto grids.”

Details of Annie’s tapestry crocheted blanket
Annie adapted these heart and knot motifs from the quilter’s book.

Annie designed and crocheted all of these blankets in 2004 as Christmas presents for her friends and family!

“The blankets are all what I like to call twin or cuddle-on-the-couch. For the purposes of my patterns all blankets are 201 stitches wide. That way I know where the center is, and I know how many blank stitches to leave at each edge to make things come out even. They are all slightly over six feet long, depending on how the patterns work out. The exception is Annie’s Own Blanket, which is larger. Since it was for me, it had to be special! The crochet is done from right to left, cut the yarn, go back and do it again.”

Annie crocheted this for Claudia
The spirals were hard to chart on Claudia’s 2006 blanket.

Annie crocheted this for Jennifer
She designed the trees and all the critters for lucky Jennifer in 2006.

Annie was a Massage Therapist for more than twenty years before retiring from the hands-on work. Since the name of her practice, Annie’s Hands, works equally well for crochet work, she’s changing her website from massage to crochet, and her new passion, tapestry crochet.

Annie continues to teach massage classes in various locations, though, including Windemere Institute of Healing Arts. She posted that “The logo of the school has long captured my imagination, but it was not until I discovered tapestry crochet that it became possible to make. Charting the logo was a challenge indeed.”

Annie crocheted this for Windemere
Annie crocheted this blanket in 2008 for Barbara, the Windemere director and founder.

Details of Annie’s crochet
The textured white on white diamond motif was done with a double crochet that anchors in the front loop two rows down. The same stitch is done on the right with two colors.

Annie crochets under the back loop. That’s how someone showed her and she assumed it was the only way to do it. Luckily, the back loop technique is perfect for Annie’s blankets because going under both loops and cutting the yarn after each row will not produce a rectangle – but a parallelogram.

Annie continues, “Since discovering sites online about crochet, I have come to learn that the “standard” crochet stitch is through both loops. I’ve never yet tried it, but am currently creating texture by alternating between front and back loops, as on the washcloths (below). They are for the little bits of soap left to a bar at the end. Tuck the soap inside, and wash away! Depending on your point of view the patterns can look different from one angle or the other.”

Annie’s wash cloths
Annie’s washcloths are quite original – with a pocket for soap!

How are they made? Annie says, “Start with a chain that then becomes a pocket as you spiral up. Hide the change from one row to the next by making it where the fold will be.”

Unfinished Wash Cloths
This is how these unique washcloths were crocheted with Lion Brand Cotton Ease.  Annie explains, “Fold it like this as you go along, and when it closes itself up, you are done. Texture was added by alternating between front and back loop.”

“All my work up until the washcloths have been acrylic, for the wash-and-dry simplicity. Something so large that gets used as much as a blanket should not have to be sent to the dry cleaners.”

“I use worsted weight, although there are some exceptions. Sometimes a yarn is a bit thicker or thinner and I have to adjust my tension accordingly. For example, in the Celtic Cross (below), the green yarn is just a touch thicker than the white. That was not a problem for the cross itself, but the border became very lopsided. I dealt with that by leaving the green off of the edge of some strategically located rows.”

“I seem to have a lot of Red Heart, Caron One Pound, and TLC Essentials in my stash at present. I’ve begun to experiment with textured yarns of various sorts, still sticking with machine wash-and-dry. The trees on Jennifer’s blanket have leaves made of Paton’s Mosaic.”

The Celtic Cross tapestry is based on the Celtic Cross at St. Moluag’s cathedral (below left) that stands outside the church. Annie’s tapestry is 8 feet tall and 26 inches wide, just about life-sized.

Annie’s Celtic Cross Tapestry
This Celtic Cross hanging is a real tour de force!

Annie made good use of yarn left over from the Celtic Cross. She says, “I’ve been admiring everyone’s work, and thought I would try to make something in a shape other than a blanket. Can I make something with five points? Yes, I can. It looks like a kid’s flower. Then what? Put a border on it – maybe it will turn into a bowl. It made some sort of funky thing that maybe the cats will sleep in.”

Views of Annie’s Tapestry Crochet Basket

Annie’s cat approves!
Annie’s cat approves!

Annie admits to the obsession that many of us share! She says, “Obsessed? Is this an obsession? Just because I have a hook in one hand and yarn on the other during almost all waking hours (and, truth be told, during some of the sleeping hours as well) you call this obsessed? Just because I cannot possibly crochet fast enough to keep up with all the lovely things I want to make?”

“Ok, maybe a little obsessed…I have found the actual crocheting not so difficult to do. It is like learning to crochet in the first place – how to hold the yarn, create the proper amount of tension, not get tangled. It is just adding the dimension of holding tension on two or more yarns instead of one that I found tricky to get the hang of at first.”

“Everyone seems to have their favorite way of developing graphs, or working from them. Some peoples’ stitches seem to go off at a slant, some are more vertical, etc. I suppose it is a matter of experimentation, eh? And isn’t that what makes this so pleasurable? The stretching of the brain cells to figure out the next trick.”

Here is a site I learned about while wandering around the tapestry crochet world, where you can make almost any sort of graph paper imaginable. I didn’t have a source of graph paper, so I made up a way to make charts on Excel. Who’da thunk – Excel as an art form!”

“I have absolutely no talent at drawing, so Excel, with its placement of cells as pixels, works for me. It is sort of a pointillist approach that seems to get me where I need to be in order to keep track of a pattern while I am crocheting it.”

Annie’s Prancing Pony
A tapestry pictured in Lord of the Rings inspired Annie to design and charted this Prancing Pony tapestry.

“The thing with my work is this – I have no earthly idea how to read a crochet pattern. I have looked at them and am completely mystified. So I make stuff up.”

There’s no telling what Annie will do next. She says that “Inspiration is to be found all around us – in patterns of floor tiles and woodwork in old buildings, in horse blankets, clothing, sculpture, etc. I took a photo of the construction of a garden gate that I want to work into a charted pattern.”

You can see more pictures and keep up with her new work in Annie’s blog and in her Tapestry Crochet Yahoo Group photo albums.

Very Crafty Andy

Monday, November 10th, 2008

Have you seen Crafty Andy’s fabulous blog and videos on YouTube? This eclectic guy is a tapestry crochet genius – combining yarns and stitches in wonderfully creative ways.

Originally from Puerto Rico, Andy (aka Andres Nevarez) now lives in San Francisco.

Crafty Andy’s Hats
Andy crocheted his Eye of Jupiter and Celtic Sun hats earlier this year.

Andy’s posts at Ravelry are supportive, informative, and often quite funny.

Andy’s Christmas hat
His Christmas Hat combines back loop tapestry crochet with a knit border

Andy’s Gryffindor Hat
Gryffindor Hat, his newest creation, includes front post double crochet!

For a real treat – just follow the links at the beginning of this blog!