Archive for the ‘Artist Profiles’ Category

A Rising Star

Sunday, July 27th, 2008

Carol Cathey (aka ltstealth online) describes herself on Ravelry as “a 14 year Cancer Survivor – Mom – wife and jewelry designer as well as a crochet beaded bag designer. I love my work with crochet and have recently started tapestry crochet, which is my new love.”

Carol Cathey with her tapestry crochet
Carol and some of her wonderful bags.

Originally from Alabama, Carol has lived in Northern Virginia for over 20 years. She started crocheting at age five and now designs bags and jewelry for her business, Hurricane Designs. She also enjoys teaching at a local bead shop.

Dogs Purse
Her jumbo version of the Gone to the Dogs Purse is 18” across.

Like many budding designers, Carol began by tweaking published patterns. It’s amazing what switching to a thicker or thinner yarn will do! She loves to crochet miniatures, so she used a fine thread to tapestry crochet some of the kitty cell phone bags below.

Tapestry Crochet Kitty Bags
Original Kitty Bag pattern on the left and Carol’s colorful . . .

More Kitty Bags
. . . and award winning versions.


Tapestry Crochet Cat Purses
The original bead Tapestry Crochet Purse is on the left and her award winning interpretation on the right. She says, “I really enjoyed the handles. They were something new that I had not tried.”

Tapestry Crochet Rasta Bag
She also nixed the beads and changed the colors in her version of the Rasta Bag on the right.

Her recent pieces, like the Beta fish bag below, feature motifs from online cross stitch patterns.

Beta Fish Graph and Tapestry Crochet Bag
Carol changed the bottom and added waves to an online graph, then altered the Rasta Bag pattern to make it fit, and voila!

Carol Cathey’s Camel Bag
This bag was inspired by the camel that Carol sees at a farm everyday on her way to work.

The Elvis bag below was very hard on her hands; in fact she had to put this project down three times, making scarves during the breaks. It wasn’t the design that was the challenge – but the size 3 hook and tight stitches.

Elvis Graph and Tapestry Crochet Bag
Carol designed this bag for her mother in law, who loves Elvis. Knitpro helped her graph out a picture she found online.

Tapestry Crochet Bag by Carol Cathey
Carol designed this bag for her husband’s Cover Your Asphalt (a sealing company) credit card machine. “It slanted some but not near what I expected,” she says.

Carol Cathey’s Bones Purse
Carol found the skull pattern for this bag on the DominKnitrix blog spot.

“The more the challenge the better for me,” she says, then adds, “I think most people like a good challenge. Tapestry is my new love and it took me a little time to work out the kinks. While doing so I had some frustrating moments like everyone else. It happens I think with everything we try.”

For more of her work, just take a look at Carol’s flickr page, which includes her fabulous bead crochet purses and crochet hook handles.

Yes, Carol has what it takes – a great attitude, enthusiasm, talent, and skill – to make her a rising tapestry crochet star!

Tapestry Crochet Exhibit

Monday, June 2nd, 2008

Sometimes it’s being in the right place at the right time or knowing the right people. Damon MacNaught recently asked me if I would like to exhibit some of my work over the summer at the Thigpen Library Gallery at Volunteer State Community College in Gallatin, Tennessee. Of course, I said, “Yes!” The show, which opens today, is a sampling of some of my earlier and later work.

Damon Installing Labels
The colors of each Lessons Series (1993-1994) piece reflect individual realizations. I didn’t notice which one Damon was labelling until I cropped the picture for this blog – a coincidence?

Damon and Shayna Installing my VSCC Tapestry Crochet Show
Damon and his wife, Shayna, made quick work of the installation.

Carol Ventura and Self Portrait
This Self Portrait (1982) is the first piece that I tapestry crocheted back and forth, switching hands and the end of every row.

Jane Armour, from the Thigpen Library, graciously accepted copies of my More Tapestry Crochet and Bead & Felted Tapestry Crochet books, which are on display (along with some book projects) in the glass case.

The public is invited to the exhibition and also to my 10am Tapestry Crochet lecture at the Thigpen Library on July 28th, the day we take down the show. So if you’re in the area between June 2nd and July 25th (or on July 28th), please stop by to experience CAROL VENTURA Tapestry Crochet!

Carol Ventura Exhibit at Volunteer State Community College
CAROL VENTURA Tapestry Crochet exhibition at the Thigpen Gallery.


Wednesday, April 2nd, 2008

When asked where they get their ideas, artists usually say that they just pop into their head. In Wanda Blount’s case, they inspire her fingers. She says, “None of my work is written out. It comes to me and I just sit down and crochet it. . . I use regular acrylic, cotton and silk yarns. I also use mirrors, cowrie shells and buttons.”

Wanda’s tapestry crochet hats
Wanda models hats that she tapestry crocheted in the 1980’s.

She continues, “I’ve been crocheting for many years and was very serious about it at one time but then I moved from NY to Virginia and I kind of separated “my gift” from my spirit.”

Wanda’s tapestry crochet hats
These hats also date to the 1980’s.

“I started crocheting while I was still in high school. My uncle married a woman from the Phillipines and she crocheted doilies and bedspreads with cotton thread and the very small silver crochet hooks. I learned from her how to crochet pineapples and other lace patterns. I made a lot of doilies. I started making the patterns smaller so that I could crochet them into decorative skullcaps. From there, I started using more colors and textures – experimenting – so that I could see what I would end with.”

Wanda’s tapestry crochet hats and vest
Wanda also tapestry crocheted these hats and the vest in the 1980’s.

“I usually see or dream about what it is that I want my work to look like and I start from there. I sometimes have to just think about what comes to me for few days before I can begin. It helps me to place my yarn out on the floor and just choose the colors that I want to use. I don’t have any set color scheme I just go with what moves me and with what I think looks great together. My work comes from spirit. I feel it before I start to crochet, while I am crocheting.”

Wanda’s tapestry crocheted hat
Another tapestry crocheted hat that dates to the 1980’s.

“I haven’t always acknowledged my gift as something special, like other people have and I know that is because it came so easily for me. But I am becoming more confident and comfortable with seeing myself as an artist…and I like it :) .”

Wanda’s tapestry crochet hats
Wanda tapestry crocheted these hats in the 1990’s.

Wanda’s tapestry crochet hats
More of her fabulous tapestry crocheted hats from the 1990’s.

“I crocheted some of these hats while I was living in NY in 1990 and I crocheted some of them when I moved back to Virginia in 1991.  After I moved back to Virginia I would travel back and forth to NY to sell my hats. The majority of my sales came from word of mouth.”

Wanda’s tapestry crochet hats
This 1990’s tapestry crocheted hat can be worn two different ways!

“I worked mainly with Luster Sheen yarn by Red Heart. I also used Lion Brand acrylics and other types of yarn.  I sometimes used various types of left over yarn that I purchased from thrift stores.”

Wanda’s tapestry crochet hats
More of Wanda’s hats from the 1990’s.

“Now that I have come to grips that it is a God given blessing, I am flooding my spirit with crocheting once again. I hope to become published real soon.”

Wanda’s tapestry crochet hats
A few more of Wanda’s tapestry crocheted hats from the 1990’s.

I can’t wait to see her latest inspirations! I don’t know about you, but I’m going to keep an eye on Wanda’s Flickr page – because this funkycrochetdiva (Wanda’s name on Ravelry) will be posting pictures of her new work there!

<Safari Hat
Update: Wanda’s free African Safari Hat pattern is included in the current issue of Black Purl Magazine!!!

Tapestry Crochet Explorationist

Monday, March 17th, 2008

Sit back and prepare to be amazed! Thirdsister, aka Kris King from Longmont, Colorado, is bringing tapestry crochet to a whole new level.

Kris King tapestry crocheting
She looks innocent enough, but watch out!
This inventive woman is mega talented!

Circular motifs have always been a challenge, but by combining back loop and standard single crochet stitches, she’s able to tapestry crochet curves with much smoother transitions. As Kris explained it to our Yahoo Group, “I work into the back loop in certain situations to get a less jagged edge on a color change.  Diagonals to the left (from bottom to top) are smooth in single crochet due to the inherent slant of the stitch.  But diagonals to the right are jagged.  By working into the back loop at the color change I smooth this out a bit.  I find this technique helps on horizontal color changes too — a less toothy edge.  It also helps to connect a line when otherwise it would be broken . . . I’ve found that by using the back-loop technique I’m able to use symmetrical patterns which I had passed over previously because of the difference in left-to-right and right-to-left diagonals.  The two still look different, but now left-to-right one-stitch-wide diagonals connect enough for the diagonal to look more like a diagonal than a series of dots.”

Tapestry Crochet Baskets
Naturally dyed handspun wool
S Vessel, 2007 (motif based on one in Salish Indian Sweaters by Priscilla A. Gibson-Roberts) and Celtic Knot Vessel.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. First a little about her roots, in her own words: “I’m one of five kids from a military family. We moved around a lot. I have three sisters, all of whom knit, crochet, weave, spin, or something. My mom taught us all the crafts we know except spinning and weaving. I started crocheting at about 10 years old. Although everyone in my family crochets, I am “the crocheter” of the family. I don’t knit – I’ve tried a couple of times, but just can’t get it. But that is okay, as everyone else knits, including my oldest daughter, and I get really great sweaters, socks, and gloves from them. I would be really crazy to learn to knit now! Crocheting was a way for me, as a teenager, to find solace in solitude. Mostly I made doilies and afghans (from kits). I did macramé also – even making earrings for my sisters from sewing thread and beads.”

“I didn’t do much crocheting during college, through my professional career as a computer programmer, and the first part of raising a family. When my husband and I started a family we decided that one of us needed to stay home full time. I won – it’s been a great journey. We have two daughters – both now in college – two of the most wonderful young women you could ever hope to meet. Both were home-schooled up until high school, which was fairly time consuming, so I didn’t get a lot of time to crochet.”

“When the girls were small my husband surprised me by signing me up for a beginning spinning class. I was hooked. I loved it. I didn’t have lots of time for spinning, but once I learned the basics, spinning was something I could do in short periods of time between other activities. After a couple of years I had lots of yarn just lying around. So crochet came back into my life. I happened to have a copy of Tapestry Crochet – in fact I had two copies, not only did I think it was going to be a good technique for me, but one of my sisters did too. My first project was a small spiral vessel from my handspun that now sits on my husband’s desk at work holding his pencils. My second project was a large bag (below) I learned a lot from these projects.”

Kris King’s Tapestry Crocheted Bag
Can you believe that this original 21″ x 12″ handspun bag is Kris’s
Second Tapestry Crochet Project? OMG!

“I realized that the kind of tapestry crochet objects I wanted to make required a stiffer yarn than what I had been spinning or could buy, so I started spinning singles from Lincoln, a longwool sheep, specifically for tapestry crochet. These yarns were fairly inelastic such that, in tapestry crochet, I ended up with a fabric that was fairly stiff.”

Tapestry Crochet Dragon
Natural color handspun wool
Dragon Bag (motif from the Little Dragon in Catherine Cartwright-Jones’ book, The Tap Dancing Lizard).

“I’ve enjoyed the journey of discovery with tapestry crochet – how much tension to use (go smaller in hook size instead of trying to crochet tighter), various ways to end and begin rows, shapes beyond just cylinders, the nature slant of crochet and how to make it an asset instead of a detriment, how to use variation between the front and back loop to achieve different results (see below). And that process just continues. Tapestry crochet works like a good science – the more questions I research and answer, the more questions are created.”

Tapestry Crochet Seahorse Heads
Left is tapestry crocheted as usual, right shows some front loops.

“I’ve taught tapestry crochet a couple of times. Teaching is such a different experience. One of the best ways to advance one’s own skill is to teach it to others. I really enjoy teaching others to make tapestry crochet bags (see below). Cotton yarn works well for these – very little elasticity.”

Tapestry Crochet Bags
Cotton tapestry crocheted bags.

“I tried flat tapestry crochet once – in a dragon afghan. That was a real experience! There were so many technical aspects to figure out – it was loads of fun.”

Tapestry Crochet Dragons Afghan
Naturally dyed handspun wool flat tapestry crochet
Dragon Afghan, 2005-2006 (based on a pattern in Cross Stitch Patterns, edited by Thelma M. Nye, published in 1970 by Van Nostrand Reinhold Company).

“Generally I don’t have deadlines on any projects, even projects that are intended as gifts from the onset. People who receive my crocheted projects know me well enough to know that I just can’t abide by restrictions of the calendar. They are accustomed to receiving Christmas presents from me in July. It is very nice to not feel pressured in my projects.”

“I really like dragons. I’ve made two bags with dragons and two afghans.”

Tapestry Crochet Dragon Bag
Cotton 11″ high tapestry crochet
Dragon Bag, 2007 (motif adapted from the Chinese Imperial Dragon in Catherine Cartwright-Jones’ book, The Tap Dancing Lizard).

Dragonfly Basket
Kris loves all sorts of dragons! She tapestry crocheted this 5″ tall
Dragonfly Vessel in 2007 with naturally colored handspun (the motif based is on a 1912 filet crochet pattern in The New Filet Crochet Book by Anna Wuerfel Brown, published by Cora Kirchmaier).

“Patterns for tapestry crochet exist just about everywhere. I’ve used patterns specifically for tapestry crochet, but also filet crochet patterns, two-color knitting patterns – any charted pattern works. The proportions on patterns will vary when done in tapestry crochet. Generally the design ends up being a little skinnier than it looks on paper – especially when using knitted designs. The designs I’ve used are not hindered by this. I especially like Celtic knots. I’ve been exploring more curvy designs and I like those a lot.”

Celtic Knot Baskets and Pillow
Natural color handspun Celtic Knot Vessels, 2007 and 14″ Pillow. The motifs on these projects are from Alice Starmore’s Charts for Colour Knitting.

Tapestry Crochet Spiral Baskets
Natural color handspun wool 4 1/2″ high Swirl Vessel, 2007 (motif is from Charts for Colour Knitting by Alice Starmore), and 4 1/2″ high Curvy Tapestry Crochet Vessel, 2008.

“I have several tapestry crochet ideas for the future. I want to break out of overall symmetric designs – using multiple motifs instead of repeating one or two. I want to create a plate-or bowl-like object that is two sided – the right side of the crochet on both sides – two canvases for different designs. I want to explore non-cylindrical shapes – I haven’t been that pleased with my results in the past. I want to explore curves more also. And I want to master left-handed crocheting such that I can do flat pieces without cutting the thread at the end of each row.”

Shaped Tapestry Crochet Baskets
Natural color handspun wool
Rooster (the motif based is on a 1912 filet crochet pattern in The New Filet Crochet Book by Anna Wuerfel Brown, published by Cora Kirchmaier) and Hummingbird Baskets.

“I correspond with my fiber sisters on a day-to-day basis. This fiber family includes my mom, my three sisters, my oldest daughter, knitting friends from my neighborhood, friends from our local guild, friends from Ravelry (that I’ve never met in person – the internet is great!), friends from classes. Ravelry is a fantastic resource!”

“Every year many of these friends meet at the Estes Park Wool Market in June in Colorado. We rent a cabin (this year 2 cabins!) and have a giant fiber slumber party for 4 to 5 days. It’s really cool. We work very hard at our classes during the day, and then sit around knitting and crocheting and teaching each other in the evenings. The sharing of knowledge and experience is wonderful. I have a delightful picture in my head of a friend teaching my daughter to knit continental style.”

“I’m a member of the Handweavers Guild of Boulder. This is a wonderful group; great programs, great people, great inspiration and support.”

Kris King’s Felted Tapestry Crochet Bag
Felted Tapestry Crochet Bag, 15″ x 13″, Lion Wool, 2007.

“This vessel (below) was an experiment in how to join rows. If you work in a spiral, you get a jag in the stripe that is disconcerting. In the past I’ve done the normal crochet row join (chain at beginning of row, slip stitch into that chain at the end of the row), which didn’t give good results. So I tried something new: chain at the beginning of a round to get up to the next round – this chain will NOT show as it ends up being on the inside of the work. At the end of the round take your hook out of your work. From the back, insert the hook into the back loop only of the first single crochet of that row. Grab the free loop and pull it through, then do a chain to get up to the next row (you have to pay attention to tension to make sure this loop isn’t too tight or loose). The first single crochet in the next round goes into both loops of the first single crochet of the last row. This is the same single crochet that you just pulled your free loop through.”

Kris King Basket
Another Celtic Knot Vessel tapestry crocheted with handspun in 2008. Notice the way the rounds are joined down the center of the detail – her own innovation!

“In this technique and the normal joining technique you have that one joining stitch where part of the stitch is done at the beginning of the round (the chain to get up to that round) and the rest of the stitch is done at the end of the round. BUT – with this technique, the chain stitch at the beginning of the round doesn’t show. So you don’t have to worry about this part when you are changing colors for the joining stitch from one row to the next.”

If you like what you see here, Kris has more pictures of her amazing fiber art at Ravelry and Flickr. I’m really looking forward to seeing what she will explore next! I’m so inspired by what she’s doing, I made up a new word to describe it – yes, Thirdsister is a true tapestry crochet explorationist!

Mesmerizing Mandalas

Friday, January 25th, 2008

Have you seen these marvelous tapestry crocheted mandalas on Yahoo Tapestry Crochet and Ravelry by Sriyana? The more I see and read about this talented woman, the more I want to see and know!

Stacey Glasgow
Stacey Glasgow, aka Sriyana, with her prize-winning Woodland and Star Mandalas.

When I asked Stacey if I could blog about her work, she not only agreed, but helped by emailing me the following:

“Originally from Michigan, I grew up on the northern edge of Detroit. As a young girl I was drawn to old-timey handcrafts, and all forms of art. My grandmother knew how to crochet, and at my request, taught me the basics when I was about eight years old. Soon afterward, I enthusiastically improvised my first original crochet project –- a simple pastel-striped baby blanket with ruffled edge for my newborn cousin. I continued to crochet on and off over the years, and although I found I was actually good at reading patterns, I often experimented with crocheting my own basic designs.”

“In 2002, after an eleven-month adventure in a small RV, my husband and I settled in the mountains of Western North Carolina. Over the next few years, I did some drawing and painting, something I’ve always loved to do. I began work on a painted mandala. ‘Mandala’ is an ancient Sanskrit term, loosely translated to mean ‘circle.’ The creation of mandalas is an ancient art form, the process of which is said to open communication between the conscious and subconscious mind. Mandalas are used in many religious traditions, and were studied and used by Carl Jung in his work. Jung said, ‘Drawing mandalas expands one’s thinking, exercises integrity, exposes unconscious traits, focuses attention and brings self-knowledge. It calms and relaxes the psyche.’ ”

Hawaiian and Helios Mandalas by Stacey Glasgow
Hawaiian dates to 2006 and Helios to 2007.

“During this time, I attempted some crocheted color-work designs using standard graph paper, but was dissatisfied with the results, due to the many loose ends and floats, and the distortion of the motifs. I began searching the Internet for ‘crocheted tapestries,’ and found Carol Ventura’s books. I was elated, and placed my order for More Tapestry Crochet. As soon as it arrived at my door, I ravenously scanned Carol’s tutorial of the tapestry crochet technique. A light went on, and the floodgates were open! I immediately began designing my own tapestry crochet projects.”

“In 2005, I decided to improvise a tapestry-crocheted mandala. It became the first of many, and in 2007, I devoted much of my time to this newfound passion.”

“Many things give me inspiration for my mandala designs, including the beautiful natural surroundings here in the Blue Ridge Mountains, where I live. Stars, trees, flowers and plants, and other symbols of nature all find their way into my work.”

Knight and Bloom Mandalas by Stacey Glasgow
These Knight and Bloom Mandalas date to 2007.

“Music and dance also inspire me. My husband has a talent for writing songs, and is often sitting alongside me, playing and singing as I work. Music is one of the things that brought us together, and continues to nurture the bond between us. I sing harmony with him, and offer suggestions when he’s stuck on a lyric. I also love to dance, and have a great little circle of friends here in Asheville who share that passion. We get together as regularly as possible, often with their new babies in tow, to practice fusion-style bellydance. Gathering with these goddess-women is always inspiring to me. The spiral is a basic form of movement, as inherent in dance as it is in other forms of nature. My dancing and my mandalas, with their basic spiral form, feel closely connected.”

“I also enjoy reading about the folk arts of widely varying, fascinating cultures, such as the Pennsylvania Dutch, Native American, Scandinavian, Middle Eastern and Indonesian traditions. It is inspiring and humbling to find parallels and connections between my work and the work of artists from all over the world, who may have lived hundreds, or even thousands of years ago, all the way up to the present. My little collection of well-loved books on the subject is always growing, and I visit museums whenever I have the opportunity. Although my traveling experience has been relatively limited, I do love to travel, and hope to do more of it in the future. There are so many places I read about that I would like to visit. has been a windfall, providing the opportunity to virtually ‘meet’ fiber artists from all over the world.”

Earth Mandala by Stacey Glasgow
This Earth Mandala dates to 2007.

“My mandalas have, thus far, been crocheted out of wool. Much of the yarn I use is spun from fleeces produced locally by Bovidae Farm in Mars Hill, NC, where I can stop and pet the sheep while visiting their wonderful on-site yarn shop. Their fleeces are sent out to Bartlett Yarns, Inc. in Maine, to be processed into yarn in one of the last ‘spinning mule‘ mills in existence in the US, and are then returned to be sold on the farm where they originated.”

“My mandalas are worked in a continuous spiral, often carrying five to eight colors simultaneously. I also end-off colors and add in new ones as I go, so that a completed mandala may end up with as many as seventeen colors and shades, like my Star Flower Mandala Tapestry . . . or more!”

Star Flower Mandala by Stacey Glasgow
This Star Flower Mandala dates to 2007.

“Once I’ve reached the desired size for a particular mandala, I crochet the last row around a brass-coated steel wire macramé hoop [what a GREAT idea!!!]. This allows me to easily display them, nice and flat, on a wall.”

“Each mandala I create is one-of-a-kind, an improvised design that reveals itself gradually as it develops outward from its center. This unfolding process is meditative, but also exciting. The journey of their creation is therapeutic work, and the final result is always something of a surprise. My mandalas are intended to be enjoyed as wall-hanging tapestries in sacred spaces.”

Stacey explained her technique and added these encouraging words on Ravelry:

“I am not a math person, by nature. So I calculate as little as possible! Making flat circular designs is something you will just get the hang of with some trial and error. I know it can be frustrating, but don’t give up, the ‘AHA!’ moment is just around the corner!”

“I use the increases to branch my designs out, and/or start new motifs right on the increases. Sometimes I do just slip in increases wherever they work, regardless of rules, but I do try to stagger them around from row to row to avoid creating any points on my circle. If you have Carol’s book, More Tapestry Crochet, check out the pattern for the blanket on page 85. I have used the first 19 Rounds of that as an increase guide for getting a flat circle started.”

“Just remember, your design has to accommodate expansion as the circle gets larger . . . so you must either add a new motif when you increase, or make your original motif or background color triangulate out like a slice of pie. If you think of it as a circle made of pie slices, you might get the ‘aha’ moment…or you might just get hungry. Get a slice of pie, (I like coconut cream . . . mmm . . . coconut cream . . . sorry, Homer Simpson moment, there), and keep practicing!”

Stacey Glasgow’s Scarf
“This was worked using the back-loop tapestry crochet technique. The design is my own, based on traditional Scandinavian-style motifs. I incorporated a pass-through slot into the scarf, at my sister’s request.”

Stacey also designs tapestry crochet clothing and accessories – but mandalas are her passion. I’m really looking forward to seeing her new work – which I find calming and exhilarating at the same time!

Danielle Kassner, aka “laracroft”

Saturday, January 12th, 2008

Another tapestry crochet artist of note is laracroft (her web name, of course). Although originally from Canada, after 20 years of living in Spain, it should not be surprising that Danielle has chosen the European back loop tapestry crochet technique. She says it best (the following is from emails or was originally posted on Danielle’s blog and in Ravelry):

Danielle’s Hats
Danielle’s Hat and her Russian Princess Hat (designed by Annette Petavy, from the French crochet magazine, 1000 Mailles) with Danielle’s addition of a tapestry crochet border.

“I live and work as a classical musician in Barcelona, but really I’m from Toronto. I started seriously crocheting last October (2006) when I injured my back, but now that my back is fine I find myself with a serious yarn abuse problem. But the only thing I have in common with Lara Croft is our taste for Bach.”

“Mine is about Crochet Jacquard, or as the Americans call it, Tapestry Crochet. If you always work into the back loop, your designs will not lean over to the right, and the carried thread will not show through.”

“The cuff [below] is done in a new and utterly impossible technique which me and some girls from Ravelry have dubbed “Mensa Stitch” but which is also known as Backwards Crochet. In the small photo to the left you can see my new version of the cuff, now that I’m a bit more adventurous in Mensa Stitch. On the right is the button band, just waiting for some buttons.”

Danielle’s Warmer
Danielle’s Cuff.

Danielle’s Gloves
Danielle’s gloves were made for the Spanish glove swap, GUANTAZO, for a friend who likes skulls and purple!

“I came to Tapestry Crochet, not through tapestry crochet or even via crochet at all. I discovered it while surfing through Scandinavian knitting links. My biggest love in the fiber world is Nordic stranded colourwork, which turns on all my lights. One day I found a site called “Nordic Fiber Arts” and started scanning through their book list. When I came to a title called “Decorative Crocheting” my heart started racing. There on the cover was an exquisite, intricate stranded sweater, ostensibly crocheted! To me this was like Redemption from on high, because although I love the look of knitting, I find the act of it unspeakably tedious, while I simply love to crochet. Several seconds later I had ordered the book and started burrowing all over the Net to find more links and photos. By the time the book arrived at my door two weeks later, I had already figured out the technique by zooming in on the very few images then available, and was obsessively experimenting with it. Later I discovered your beautiful work, Carol, and was terribly disappointed to discover that I was not in fact the First Man on the Moon! Still later you posted your article on TC in Korsnäs and I went wild with delight over the photos, and wild with jealousy that you got to go there!!”

“Not much has changed since then: my first love is still Nordic colourwork. My second love is Medieval Art, and I suppose a little of that may be reflected in the designs that come to me. I have (obviously) a bit of a penchant for little cross motifs which are all over Scandinavian and Baltic knitting, and also figure highly in medieval decorative art.”

Danielle’s Bag
The motif on Danielle’s Latvian Mitten Handbag is from Latvian mitten designs.

“I consider myself very much a beginner still. I’d like to be able to say “Dale of Norway, move over!” but honestly a couple of hats, a few socks and a pair of gloves are not much competition for the masterpieces those northern folks have been making for the last couple of centuries.”

“And the best part is, after removing the icky circular needle which made the thing [below] look like a hula skirt, amazingly it turns out that it actually fits the DH [Dear Husband]!! However, the experience while character-building did not change the fact that I find knitting very, very tiresome. I’m glad it’s over, glad to be twirling again and finally done with all that Poking About with Pointy Sticks.”

Danielle’s Korsnas Sweater
Danielle’s WIP [Work in Progress] Korsnas sweater.

“And that’s it, the whole knitted section [above], thank God. I have paid my dues, and I have proven to myself that I can knit. I can knit while watching CSI. I can knit with 2 strands, and even with 3 strands. Well, actually that last bit is not entirely true. 3 strands is not my strong point.”

“I hardly have time to crochet these days. I like doing 5 or 6 test runs before making anything pretty, but that’s a luxury I don’t seem to have these days. So my dear, I wish I could have made your birthday present a bit classier, but you’ll have to be satisfied with this thing [below].”

Garden Pouch
The design on Danielle’s Garden Pouch is from Plate LXV of La Vera Perfezione del Disegno per Punti e Ricami, 1561.

“This is certainly getting closer [below]. Only problem is, this was supposed to be a Troubador Sock, or rather a Trouvère sock, and somehow it got to looking like a Santa Claus sock. No matter, I can always hang it off the mantelpiece on Christmas Eve.”

Danielle’s Sock
First, a few test pieces, then voila!

“I can’t believe it. Tejemanejes, the Spanish online knit magazine, are going to PUBLISH (omgomg) these very Troubadour Socks [below] in their next issue! In celebration of which I have decided to give them their very own Name, since Troubadour Socks Number 1 is less than romantic. No, like roses each sock deserves its Name, and this sock is hereby named after that most excellent troubadour, Bernart de Ventadorn. (He probably would have worn them, too, airy-fairy poetic type that he was, if only he’d had a day job to help him with the purchase of luxuries like socks.)”

Danielle's Socks
Danielle’s Bernart de Ventadorn Troubadour Socks.

“. . . a pair of my Troubador Socks should be in the next [Spring 2008] issue of Interweave Crochet, unless something terrible occurs like they decide they hate them or forget to put them in.”

Danielle’s Felted Hat
“Here’s a new technique I’m trying to get the hang of. It’s promising, but I fail to get the measurement right before felting. This is TC but leaving floats instead of carrying the second strand. Using a bulky 100% wool for the floats which after felting becomes a fuzzy, warm, thrum-like lining.”

“I’m a classical guitarist and I play, teach, conduct and crochet (and sometimes knit too) in Barcelona. Some days I have a hard time deciding which I like better, music or crochet. Guess I’ll have to keep doing both.”

I have not had the pleasure of hearing Danielle play, but if it’s anything like her unique approach to tapestry crochet, then it must be spectacular!

VASSA Fingerless Gloves
Update: Danielle’s free VAASA fingerless gloves pattern is included in the Spring 2008 issue of Black Purl Magazine!!!

Bob’s Tapestry Crochet

Tuesday, January 1st, 2008

I was going to post this next week, but was inspired by this beautiful New Year’s morning to share it with you today.

How did I hear about Bob’s love of tapestry crochet? You guessed it – the internet. I thought you might enjoy learning how he recently discovered the technique, has adapted some of my patterns, and is designing his own! Let me step aside and let Bob tell you about his tapestry crochet adventures [most of this was first posted at HappyHookers]:

“SilverStarShadow introduced the technique to me and I’ve been HOOKED ever since! I’ve made several stocking caps that had tapestry work done in the brim (just really simple patterns . . . like stripes for example). The people who received them were totally amazed. They thought they were woven. The hats I make are also pretty thick. I live in Michigan and can’t stand thin, wimpy hats . . . my balding head needs more padding . . . Now I’m ready to move onto something a bit more challenging. I tried to make one stocking cap that was supposed to have snowflakes going around the brim, but it just wouldn’t come out right. Then my sis (SilverStarShadow) sent me to Dr. Ventura’s website. The site has some YouTube files on it that made it much more clear to me as to the reason why my patterns were failing. It all has to do with the Graph Paper used [these papers are available in my tapestry crochet books and some papers are online Files in my Yahoo Tapestry Crochet Group]. Earlier this week, I ordered Dr. Ventura’s book More Tapestry Crochet. I’m eagerly waiting for it to arrive. Maybe it will make it to my mailbox today.”

“I started on this hat [below right] at noon and was done around 5 PM. It’s not complicated. All of the stitches are single crochets . . . It was just like magic appearing before my eyes.”

Tapestry Crochet Hats
My Handspun Hats and Bobs hats.

“If I had to pick my worst made project, I would say that it was the Cat’s Meow bag [below]. The length vs. width just wasn’t a good combo. The bag looked too “tubish”.

Tapestry Crochet Cat’s Meow Purses
My Cat’s Meow Purses from More Tapesty Crochet and Bob’s bottle carrier.

“I found a 2005 issue of Annies Favorite Crochet that has a beach bag tapestry crochet project in it. It’s called Patriotic Stars [see below]. The original is a dark navy background with white 5 pointed stars and trim. I’m using teal and orange. The colors reminded me of a beach ball.  The image with the yarn pieces sticking out is the inside of the bag (the knotted side). This bag is turning out better than the Cat’s Meow Bag I made several weeks ago. This time I’m using a smaller hook. I’ve also learned to keep a snug tension on the yarn and to keep the stitches tight. I’m not a tight crocheter so this time I’m using an F hook (I used a G on the other bag).”

“Yes . . . it is RHSS [Red Heart Super Saver] yarn. The colors used were Teal and Vibrant Orange. I always think of those 2 colors when I think of the beach. And this pattern is a beach bag tote. ”

Tapestry Crochet Stars Bags
My Patriotic Stars Bag and Bob’s Patriotic Stars Bag.

“It’s REALLY strong. It took me a bit longer than I thought it would take to get it finished. I got SO lost when it came time to create the strap. I got totally frustrated and walked away from it for 2 days. Then I finally figured out what the pattern was telling me. As you can see, everything is made as one entire piece. There is a chain of 150 that makes the beginning of the strap. The pattern just said “with blue, chain 150 and sc in the 72nd stitch around the bag”. I was making the chain and wasn’t carrying the orange along with it. That’s what kept messing me up. I had the strand of orange way over on the opposite side of the bag. Once I got myself back on track, I had it done in just a few days.”

“I’m tellin’ ya. . . You could put bricks in this bag, knock a mugger upside his head and STILL not break a single thread! LOLOLOL [Laugh Out Loud]. I’m very pleased with the final result. My tapestry skills have improved a LOT just since the last bag I made. SilverStar has that bag now. I was talking with her on the phone and telling her how nice the strap on the bag was turning out. And when the star bag was finally done, I told her that she needed to throw that trashy Cat’s Meow bag out! The strap on that bag wasn’t very good at all. I could see a lot of the carried yarn showing through. I think she’s going to use it as a “catch all” bag for her car. That bag has a strap that pulls through a slit on the opposite side of the bag so the bag stays shut. I actually like the strap that I just finished making a little better.”

“Originally, this bag [below] is done with a size Q hook and wool is used. Then the bag is to be felted. I used RHSS and switched my hook size to an F. The bag came out to be just under 6″ at the base. The bag is round at the bottom… I just squished it down so the picture would show the diameter at the bottom and the decreases at the top. I also changed the length of the strap.”

Tapestry Crochet Hip Hop Bags
My felted Hip Hop and Bob’s Hip Hop bag.

“This [below] is another one of Carol Ventura’s designs. She named this pattern For The Birds! She got her inspiration for this bag from pre-Columbian interlocking designs from Peru and 20th century artist M. C Escher. Originally, this bag is supposed to have a diameter of 192 stitches. But because she uses thread type yarns and I don’t, I had to decrease the size of the pattern to keep from making a tote rather than something that’s handbag size. My bag is 96 stitches in diameter. Her pattern tells you how many stitches make up the motif so that you are able to increase/decrease the stitches to make a bag in the size you want.”

“This bag is being gifted to one of my good friends, Brian, in Arizona. He recently bought a very nice dig cam with extra memory cards and other accessories that can be used with it. He wanted a small bag to keep everything in so that nothing got misplaced. I think that this bag should be the perfect fit. The base of my bag is 7.5 inches long and 3 inches deep. I think that the finished height will be 11 inches once the strap is put on. Here’s some pics of my progress so far. The bags progress has been one of the main topics of discussion while talking to him on the phone. He hasn’t seen the pictures that are being shown in this post. The only thing he knows is that it is an interlocking mosaic/bird design. When I told him that the background color of the bag is actually another bird, I could hear the confusion in his voice. I’ll have a huge grin when I get the “I got the bag” phone call from him. He’s gonna be amazed when he see this.”

Tapestry Crocheted Bird Bags
My For the Birds from More Tapestry Crochet and Bob’s For the Birds Bag.

“The strap is taking a very long time to finish. It’s 298 stitches each time I make another round for the strap. I did 2 yellow, 2 green and 2 red. That equals 1,788 for one half of the strap. I’m on the last round of red for the first half.”

“This bag was a lot of fun to make. All of the constant color changing kept it from becoming a boring project. The strap took a very long time to complete. The straps design was for a larger bag . . . 2 rounds of each color on each side of the strap (4 yellow rounds in the center – then 2 green and 2 red rounds on each side). I also made the length of the strap much much longer than the original pattern called for. Because of the smaller bag size, I was going to rip back and do only one round of each color on each side of the strap, but the guy that this bag was made for wanted a comfortable “across the chest” strap. The bag was made smaller than the average tote because it’s going to be used for his dig cam and all of the other accessories that he uses. The finished look is VERY different. When I look at it, I see a large strap that seems to just belly out at the bottom creating a “bag”. Pretty cool result. I feel that the wide strap gave the bag a more masculine feel. I’m really happy with the way this bag turned out and he’s gonna have saucer sized eyes when he sees it. He’s seen some of the progress pics, but he will not get to see the pics that are posted here in this message. Besides . . . pictures don’t do tapestry bags justice. The picture can’t capture all of the texture in the bag. And the feel of a tapestry bag is different from any other handmade project I’ve had my hands on.”

Bob has also designed some fabulous pieces, including the stocking hats below. He described the 66″ long black and white hat and showed it’s progress in several HappyHookers postings:
“I did this hat’s [below right] brim a bit different than all of the other hats I’ve made. This brim is not made in the round. It was made from rows of back loop only. Then the beginning row was attached to the final row of the ribbing. Then I began crocheting stitches into the end of the tube shape I created. From that point, it’s done as tapestry crochet. There are a total of 6 stripes on this hat, 3 white and 3 black. The stripes will get thinner as the hat increases in length.”

Bob’s Tapestry Crochet Stocking Hats
Some of Bob’s tapestry crocheted stocking hats.

Bob describes his latest tapestry crochet pieces below, first the hat: “I . . . went down to a Size I hook and double stranded the 3 colors that were used. The finished result is a very thick hat that’s a perfect fit. It’s fit for a King!”

Bob’s Tapestry Crochet
Bob’s latest pieces are a hat and his very own Fleur-de-Lis.

“I had been working on this graph project [above right] since before Thanksgiving. I really like the Fleur-De-Lis design and wanted to incorporate it into a tapestry project. Working from Tapestry Graph paper for right handed in the round, I began to graph out my design using PhotoShop. The paint bucket tool allowed me to color in the holes of the graph. This saves me a TON of money on ink. I can’t even begin to think of all graph paper that I have printed out so I could use a pencil to scribble in the idea that’s floating around in my head. I managed to get an overall design graphed up and then started to work on it.”

“I had to rip back a few times, but finally got the result I wanted . . . I had been working on for quite sometime so I got it all finished up . . . I’m thinking that this could be worked into a pair of mittens. Maybe even a hat/mitten set. I have lots of thoughts . . . it just gets complicated trying to get all those thoughts into a usable pattern.”

“If my math is correct, I’m pretty sure that I can put the design into a small sized handbag and still have everything come out evenly spaced. And I’m still thinking of mittens too . . . although I’ve never made a pair from a pattern, much less figuring out how to write down my own pattern . . . hhhmmmmmmmmm there goes my brain again LOL.”

Bob’s enthusiasm, generosity, and encouragement are inspiring others to appreciate and even try their hand at tapestry crochet. I hope you will be able to do the same! Wouldn’t this be a great New Year’s Resolution?

New Zealand’s Doe

Wednesday, December 26th, 2007

Doe Arnot is from Oamaru, New Zealand, on the East Coast of the South Island. After seeing the fabulous pictures that she posted of her masterpieces in my Yahoo Tapestry Crochet group, I had to know more. What follows are excerpts of doespins’ posts and emails that we exchanged:

“I’ve been crocheting since I was very young and have always loved working with lots of color. Here in NZ the light is so bright and clear and our low population density makes for really dark, starry nights. So my palette of colors reflects the countryside and seascape around me.”

“I learnt to do Tapestry Crochet by accident when I was a child 40 years ago and learning to crochet. My mum told me off for working over all my spare threads, but I’ve been doing it ever since. I discovered I really liked the fabric created by fair-isle style crochet working over the carried yarn.”

Does Tapestry Crocheted Vests
Doe tapestry crocheted the Tulips Vest (34″ chest) and Seahorse Vest (28″ chest) with hand dyed wool in 2003.

“I’m a crochet tutor and tapestry crochet is one of my favourite classes to teach. I hand dye (and sometimes handspin) practically all of my yarns, out of necessity, the colours sold here are too limited and its much easier to buy coned yarn in natural colours. I mostly keep an inventory of yarns in cream, light greys, white, etc. and dye the colours I need. These are much easier to buy here as they appear on the market in all types and sizes of yarn.”

“All the articles shown are hand dyed using synthetic dyes apart from the Birds Blanket. I have used natural dyestuff such as indigo, madder, and other plants for many years mostly for my own entertainment and fascination. Because this form of dyeing is so time consuming the articles I make usually go as gifts to the people I know would appreciate the time spent on them or remain in my personal collection.”

“I dye cotton, wool, silk, alpaca etc, but haven’t got into dyeing synthetic yarns as the process and chemicals are more complicated. I also keep a stash of undyed fibre ready to spin and dye. I also like the shaded look in both the yarns and the effects by for example dyeing one colour such as blue in a whole range of tones and shades. I do occassionally buy a commercially dyed yarn if its just the colour I’m looking for, but mostly I like to create my own colour choices and sometimes that includes happy accidents, where the colour wasn’t quite what I intended but actually really makes the piece come alive. Hand dyed colours have much more depth and life because the colour can be applied in a painterly fashion, and is not flat colour. I was an art teacher and art therapist originally so I tend to have the belief that spontaneity is desirable.”

Doe’s Tapestry Crochet
Doe tapestry crocheted this Flap Hat with hand dyed alpaca in 2005. She tapestry crocheted most of the Black Oystercatcher Bag (2007, 13″ x 14″ hand dyed yarn) with alpaca and wool, but she used red silk for the beaks.

Kaffe Fassett inspires me with his joyous use of colour on the blank canvas of stocking stitch knitting. Tapestry crochet is like that too, a very simple, repetitive stitch takes the supporting role for a free expression of colour, shape and design.”

Crossbag by doe
Doe tapestry crocheted this woolen 12″ x 6″ Cross Bag in 2003.

“I started making circular designs by making mug coasters initially, which were quick to do and didn’t waste much yarn.”

Does’s Porthole
This 20″ diameter woolen Porthole Mat dates to 2001.

Porthole Detail

“I have two of Carol’s books on tapestry crochet and I really appreciate her special graphs for working out my designs. I’ve been making bags with my own NZ bird designs. In teaching tapestry crochet here in NZ, I find Carol’s books really helpful. I encourage people to learn the basics and not be afraid of using the graphs or of making simple design decisions for themselves right in the beginning.”

Does’s Pukeko Bag
Doe tapestry crocheted this 18″ x 8″ Pukeko Bag with alpaca in 2007.

“Graphing circular motifs isn’t too hard. I mentally divide a circle into 6 or twelve segments depending on the size motif(s) I want and draw one segment. The segment is drawn on squared paper (although you could use Carol’s paper too). I start with one square which represents the first round of 6 single crochet (or second round if its 12 segments). Then when I’ve charted the number of rounds to match the size of the mat I fill in the motifs with coloured pencils. Now the chart is a guide for my six or 12 segments but I don’t do the increases exactly where the chart shows them because as you know this makes straight edges on the tops of the segment stitches so I move my increase stitches on the rounds to a random pattern wherever I can without affecting the patterns to get a good curve to my finished circle. Charts are only a guide so I don’t get too bothered if I can’t increase on round 6 for example because the circle is flaring slightly, or need to make an increase round where the chart says no increase.”

“The Birds Blanket (below) worked in half double crochet plays with the forms and shapes of man and bird in primitive art. Dyed entirely with natural dyes, indigo, madder, onion skins, gorse, cochineal etc. I folded my daughter (as a baby) into its handspun, earthy warmth. The colors and yarn have withstood the test of time as it is now over 15 years old.”

Birds Blanket by Doe
Doe tapestry crocheted this 28″ x 40″ Birds Blanket in 1993 with her own natural dyed, handspun wool.

Detail of Birds by Doe

“I enjoy visiting art galleries and the fabric of woven tapestries is very inspirational.”

Blue Woman by Doe
The wool (hand dyed and some handspun) of Blue Woman is not carried, but floats on the back of the 21″ x 32″ hanging that dates to 2004.

“In 1998 I began making tapestry crochet hats and bags and selling them through 3 galleries here in NZ. I priced them according to the materials cost, time they took, and this included dyeing and reskeining/balling the yarn, adding on taxes and the commission that the galleries would charge. I had to charge a low wage for my time because tapestry crochet is time consuming and no-one would buy the article if I even charged at even a minimum wage, so I discounted for enjoyment at making and designing the articles, etc. but picked an amount that I would be happy to receive for making these items.”

“It was very enjoyable whilst I could choose the amount of items I would supply and had control of what designs I made. However, when I started getting larger orders for the same two designs (i.e. mini-mass production) the pleasure diminished rapidly. There is still a lot of misunderstanding about one-off and each one is an original. Plus only making firm fabric for tapestry crochet for hats and bags was wrecking my shoulder. Now I’ve compromised and sell woven items, other forms of crochet and a little tapestry crochet.”

“I share a workshop in an old stone building promoting historic textile crafts in the Victorian precinct. I don’t sell or feature any of my work via the web at present although our textile co-operative (which is relatively new) is planning to do a website for our work. One of my exhibition pieces appears on the Creative Fibre website (it is not tapestry crochet but a mixed media piece with predominantly crochet in alpaca). I like the one to one contact of personal sales with my customer being able to physically handle the goods and my output is limited. I also supplement my income by teaching others to make their own crochet pieces.”

“I hope the many articles I have made over the years using this technique are still telling their stories in other people’s homes. For the future, I plan to make more fluid wearable items in this technique, mixing it with other styles of crochet and playing with felting (or fulling) techniques.”

I can’t decide which is best about Doe’s unique tapestry crochet – her wonderful designs or her fantastic color palette. Fortunately, it doesn’t matter – because together they make her work outstanding!

A Tapestry Crochet Thesis

Friday, October 19th, 2007

Maarit Aalto and I first met online when she was a Craft Science student at the Savonlinna Department of Teacher Education in Finland. At the time, she was working on samples for her Master’s Thesis, “Similarity of a Square-Ruled Graph and a Tapestry Crochet Motif Made with a Single Crochet Stitch.” Maarit graduated in 2004 and meeting her at the 2005 Crochet Days was quite a thrill! Maarit was both an instructor and one of my students there.

Maarit teaching and her bag
Maarit (left) helps one of her students with a project that she taught at Crochet Days, a woolen bag tapestry crocheted in rounds.

Maarit’s Bead Tapestry Crochet Cell Phone Bag
Maarit’s cotton bead tapestry crochet cell phone bag is a variation of the project that I taught her at Crochet Days.

As you can see from her thesis abstract, Maarit took a very scientific approach:

     “Tapestry crocheted textiles can be made in a variety of ways. The technique varies according to which crochet stitches are used, which part of the stitch on the previous row the hook is inserted into, whether the crocheter is right-handed or left-handed, whether the textile is crocheted one way or back and forth, how many colours are used and how the yarns are carried and switched.
     This study focused on the similarity of a square-ruled graph and a tapestry crochet motif made with a single crochet stitch. The chosen motif was the consecration cross, which is a circle with a cross inside it. Sixty samples were crocheted using different versions of the tapestry crochet technique. The samples were compared to the motif in the square-ruled graph. The aim of the study was to find out which tapestry crochet techniques produce a motif similar to a square-ruled graph to the right side, wrong side and both sides of the textile. This was studied with the sensory evaluation method. A group of ten people evaluated the samples. The group of techniques that produces motifs similar to the square-ruled graph were formed on the basis of the average grades of the evaluation. Another aim of the study was to analyze the visual differences caused by the tapestry crochet technique. This was done using the qualitative content analysis method.
     The study showed that a tapestry crochet motif similar to a square-ruled graph can be made in a variety of ways, so that the motif is either on the right or wrong side of the textile. In both cases the textile can be crocheted one way or back and forth. A motif similar to a square-ruled graph can appear on both sides of the textile with three different techniques, but none of them are practical. According to the content analysis there are no techniques that would produce a perfect motif.
     According to the study, a tapestry crochet motif similar to a square-ruled graph can be made with traditional tapestry crochet techniques or new versions of the technique. An improved version of reverse single crochet stitch was developed during the study, which makes it possible to make good looking tapestry crocheted textiles when crocheted back and forth.”

Maarit kept the samples, but a copy of her thesis (with photos of the samples) is at the Library of the Savonlinna Department of Teacher Education. She said, “I did 60 variations, but theoretically there are hundreds!” Maarit showed me the samples and some of her other tapestry crochet work and was kind enough to give me the pieces below.

Tapestry crochet sample
Front and back of a cotton sample that Maarit tapestry crocheted back and forth, turning the piece at the end of every row, with alternating rows of the front and the back of the stitches.

Maarit’s sample
Front and back of a cotton sample that Maarit tapestry crocheted from right to left with all the front of the stitches on one side of the fabric and all of the back of the stitches on the other side of the fabric.

Maarit’s wool sample
Front and back of a pot holder that Maarit crocheted back and forth with wool, with all the front of the stitches on one side of the fabric and all of the back of the stitches on the other side of the fabric.

Maarit’s pot holder
Front and back of a similar pot holder with a border.

Detail of Maarit’s cotton bag
Detail of a cotton bag that Maarit tapestry crocheted around 10 years ago when she was first experimenting with the technique.

Maarit Tapestry Crochet Hat
Sisko Tynkkynen tapestry crocheted this cotton hat with the Finnish flag for one of Maarit’s children. It was tapestry crocheted from bottom to top, decreasing at the top.

Like most of us, just when you think you have something down, it surprises you! Maarit describes her experience with the mittens pictured below, “These tapestry crochet mittens are an example of “Woops, did I do something wrong?” I forgot to try the second mitten on while I was making it. I didn’t realize my tension was tighter so the second mitten turned out too small. The fine black woolen yarn is very difficult to work with and ripping out stitches is even more difficult. The mittens are still waiting for me to have more patience and time. I’m hoping to wear the mitten at Christmas. Hopefully this year! Someone once said that making mistakes is an efficient way of learning but unfortunately it’s also a bitter way.”

Maarit’s Tapestry Crochet Mittens
Maarit crocheted these mittens from the cuff up.

Maarit’s new job as an elementary school English teacher, and her 3 children and husband keep her quite busy. The Nordic Knitting Symposium she attended over the summer inspired her to try more new things. She says, “I feel like trying out ALL new techniques, yarns, colours etc. I do wish to live to be a hundred years old so I’ll have the time for all these lovely ideas.”

Maarit’s Woolen Mittens
Maarit will give these knit mittens to a Member of Parliament in November. It’s a teacher’s campaign to remind the Finnish government about the importance of craft skills. 

I can relate to Maarit’s lack of time and eclectic interests because I love diversity and variety, too. May we all live to be at least a hundred!

Caroline Routh, Tapestry Crochet Artist

Sunday, September 2nd, 2007

Tapestry crochet and the internet brought Caroline Routh and me together and this past Spring we finally met. Caroline studied and taught painting and design before becoming a fiber artist. As you can see, this background shines through in her exquisite abstract and figurative tapestry crochet works of art.

Caroline Routh Baskets
Caroline’s Red Stripes and Georgian Landscape are 5″ tall.

Caroline’s working method allows her to create shapely, three dimensional sculptures and vessels with fantastic color variations. How does she achieve such an extensive palette? By mixing the threads as if they were paint, of course!

Her “paints” of choice include sizes 3 and 5 cotton threads and embroidery floss (each strand is composed of six 9 yard long pieces), which are available in a rainbow of tints and shades. Metallic thread and novelty yarn are ocassionaly utilized for special effects. Caroline usually combines 2 strands into one working thread to increase the thickness. Sometimes the strands are the same color, other times each is different. She subtly varies the hues by replacing one strand at a time with another color either as it is needed or when it runs out. The new thread is tied on with a weaver’s reef knot, then the join is skillfully hidden by crocheting over it.

Caroline Routh Shell
Caroline’s tapestry crocheted Shell is 7 1/4″ long.

Detail of Tapestry Crochet Shell
This detail shows how one color transitions into another.

How do Caroline’s sculptures stay in shape? With a wire skeleton – what else would work so well? She demonstrated the technique for me below. For a lot of color changes, as many as 7 threads are carried with the wire. When no color changes are necessary,  only the wire is carried.

Caroline Routh Tapestry Crocheting
The florist wire that Caroline carries plays an important supportive role.

Caroline Routh Blackbird
Caroline’s Blackbird is 10″ high. The wire skeleton keeps it in shape.

A painter’s sensibility and tapestry crochet are successfully married in the one-of-a-kind imaginative pieces that are available through her web site and at the Mad and Noisy Gallery in Creemore, Ontario. What an inspiration!