Archive for the ‘Tapestry Crochet, America’ Category

Much Ado About Something!

Wednesday, August 21st, 2013

It’s in the press and all over the airwaves – but in case you haven’t heard, next week is the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington! Martin Luther King‘s dream is slowly becoming a reality. We are not there yet, but we’re much further down the road towards equality than we were fifty years ago!

. . . I still have a dream . . . , tapestry crocheted cotton, 27" x 56", 1983.

. . . I still have a dream . . . , tapestry crocheted cotton, 27″ x 56″, 1983.

One of Twenty

Wednesday, July 24th, 2013

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

Fine art of Crochet

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

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

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

Vogue Tote

Monday, May 13th, 2013

Have you seen the new Vogue Knitting Crochet? My tote is one of thirty four projects in the stylish 2013 special edition of the magazine. Members of Ravelry can see all the accessories, skirts, tops, and dresses here.

As usual, I experimented first. After finishing the brown and white bag, I emailed a project proposal with a photo to Vogue. They liked it – sent me a contract and several skeins of Prism Windward yarn – and voilá!

First and final version.

The first version is on the left, in front of the Vogue Knitting Crochet Tote on the right.

Their photo looks much better, don’t you think?

Tapestry Crochet Tote in Vogue

Tapestry Crochet Tote in Prism Windward and Windward Layers, Vogue Knitting Crochet 2013 (photo by Rose Callahan).

I hope you’ll take a look and give this project – and some of the others – a try!

Just in time for summer!


Mitla Purse

Saturday, October 27th, 2012

My Mitla Purse is one of more than fifty projects in Interweave Crochet Accessories 2012.

Mitla Purse tapestry crocheted with Cotton Classic by Tahki.

As with many of my other patterns, I needed to experiment. I adjusted both the size of the motif and the purse.

The first version is on the left.

The motif was inspired by one of the geometric patterns on the pre-Columbian building seen below from Mitla, Mexico. Stepped fret motifs work well with tapestry crochet and an almost infinite variety are found around the world.

Mitla wall from (photo from Wiki Commons).

The shape of the Mitla Purse was based on a change purse pattern in my first Tapestry Crochet book. It’s is out of print, but some of the patterns are available online for right handed and left handed crocheters.

Change purses from my 1991 Tapestry Crochet book.

What’s old is new again!

Biennial Award

Monday, September 24th, 2012

I was honored to have two of my tapestry crochet pieces accepted into the 2012 TACA Biennial: The Best of Tennessee Craft exhibit at the Tennessee State Museum in Nashville.

My Hat and Geometry Tote in TACA’s 2012 Biennial Exhibition.

Even better is that my Geometry Tote received a Purchase Award! I’m so excited that it’s now part of the Tennessee State Museum’s permanent collection. I blogged about this Tote earlier, when it was published in Crochet World and recently posted about the Hat, too.

The Biennial Exhibition runs through October 21 and the reception will be this Saturday, the 29th, from 6-9pm. I would love to see you there! If you can’t make it to the reception, you can still make it by crocheting your very own Geometry Tote from the instructions in the February 2011 issue of Crochet World.

Arrowhead Tote

Sunday, September 2nd, 2012

The Fall 2012 issue of Interweave Crochet has several colorful projects, including my Arrowhead Tote (below).

Arrowhead Tote, Tahki Cotton Classic, 13 3/4″ wide, 2012.

I tapestry crocheted the first version (below) with some Stitch Nation Full O’Sheep wool left over from my Beautiful Basket project. The arrows looked great at first, but after the bag was felted they lost too much definition for my taste.

Tapestry crocheted wool bag on the left –  the same bag felted in my washing machine on the right.

So – when Interweave sent out a call for original designs, I submitted a photo of the wool bag before it was felted, but suggested a new version tapestry crocheted with a single handle in Tahki Cotton Classic.

I really enjoyed crocheting the colors they chose and love how the cotton bag looks and feels. What do YOU think?

Sunrise Afghan

Friday, June 29th, 2012

So, how did my Desert Sunrise Afghan end up in Robyn Chachula’s new Unexpected Afghans book? Well fortunately, she invited me to submit a proposal, explaining that, “The book will be a designer showcase of crochet through afghans.  We will be featuring 25 designers to showcase their craft through the medium of an afghan.”

Robyn suggested I tapestry crochet a 48″ diameter sunburst, kind of like a Gothic stained glass window and my Sunburst Basket, with colors inspired by the photo below:

Sunburst Basket

Robyn selected seven colors of Caron Simply Soft yarn. She gave me the freedom to change them, but I decided to challenge myself with her selection. I eliminated one of the reds she sent, though, because it didn’t contrast enough with the other reds. The yarn and colors really took me out of my comfort zone – a good thing. I arranged them with high contrast in mind.

Sunrise Afghan
Detail of the Sunrise Afghan.

If you give this afghan a try, there is a mistake on page 80. The graph is great, but the color key on the right is incorrect. MC should replace A on the top, the pink square should be A instead of B, the orange square should be B instead of C, etc.

Robyn’s wonderful book includes twenty-eight other innovative afghans and five exquisite pillows, too! I hope you’ll take a look!

Summer 2012 Crochet Show

Monday, March 12th, 2012

Are you looking for a fun way to learn more about crochet and knitting? Well, if you’re able to get to Manchester, New Hampshire, June 29th through July 1st, you’ll be able to learn from twenty one teachers and designers (including me!) at the Summer Knit & Crochet Show.

I’m teaching the same classes that were so popular during at the CGOA show Buffalo, NY, in 2009. They are all designed to teach specific tapestry crochet skills, but the projects are small enough that most participants are able to finish them during class.

The first class features bead tapestry crochet. As you probably already know, tapestry crocheting with beads is revolutionary! Since more than one color thread is used, each thread only needs to be loaded with one bead color, eliminating the need to load the beads in a specific sequence ahead of time! A pattern is formed on one side of the fabric by adding a bead to each stitch and on the other side the colored threads create a design. The motif does not need to be pre-planned and offers fantastic design potential. Using the single crochet stitch, create a bracelet and also learn how to design with tapestry crochet graph paper.

My next class features felted and bead tapestry crochet. A large hook and loose single crochet stitches are used to make the bag, then it’s felted in a washing machine. The finished felted tapestry crochet fabric is thick and patterned on both sides. Using the single crochet stitch, students will crochet a bag and learn how to design a motif on tapestry crochet graph paper. Felting instructions are included, but the bag must be felted at home.

The focus of the last class is what I call flat tapestry crochet. Unlike traditional crochet, flat tapestry crochet does not show the back of the stitch on every other row; the front of the stitch is always on the face of the tapestry and the back of the stitch is always on the reverse of the piece. Two methods to do flat tapestry crochet with the single crochet stitch will be taught. Students will also learn how to design on tapestry crochet graph paper, how to crochet a border around their piece and how to block flat tapestry crochet.

These classes are just three of more than ninety others that feature everything from Tunisian, Color, Fair-Isle, Bruges-Lace, to Illusion crochet and more! Registration begins March 30th. Hope to see you there!

Jocelynn Brown

Monday, February 6th, 2012

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jocelynn Brown (photo: The Detroit News)

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

Wrap with Love

Sunday, January 22nd, 2012

Just in time for Valentine’s Day! Tapestry crocheted with Lion Brand’s Nature’s Choice Organic Cotton, this blanket is so soft and cuddly, it’s sure to be treasured every day of the year.

Patterns for both right handed and left handed crocheters are now available online.

Happy Day!

Monday, January 16th, 2012

. . . I still have a dream . . . , tapestry crocheted cotton, 27″ x 56″, 1983.

The light blue background symbolizes water and green the land that both unite and divide us. The rows of people represent the different human races, which are all the same size – with their hearts in the same place. Large hearts form between them as they unite and hold hands in the top row.

While crocheting the figures, I deliberated about whose portrait to place above them. Who best promoted the idea of different types of people living and working together as equals in a peaceful world? After considering many famous mythological and real people, I realized it had to be Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

To design the face, I projected Dr. King’s image onto graph paper that I modified to accommodate the tall single crochet stitches.

The facial proportions were good, but the curves were not as smooth as they could have been. It was after this project that I designed tapestry crochet graph paper to better accommodate stitch shape and placement.

In front of the Lincoln Memorial in 1963, this great man shared his dream that “. . . all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands . . .” This is my dream, too, that people around the world will learn not only to tolerate, but also to celebrate different points of view and beliefs.

Happy Martin Luther King Day! May it be peaceful and inspirational for you and the world.

Graphs from Photos

Monday, December 26th, 2011

There are many ways to make tapestry crochet graphs from photos. The ideal subject is lit from the side and includes several values. A variety of graph papers and information about how to use them are included in my Tapestry Crochet and More Tapestry Crochet books. In summary, the image may be projected onto paper or placed under tapestry crochet graph paper on a light table. After tracing the major lines, the cells are then colored in with light, medium and dark colored pencils.

Another approach utilizes computer graphics. The below images were done in a just few minutes with Photoshop, but several other programs could have produced similar results. Reducing the colors of the photo helps visualize the crocheted version and often makes it easier to trace onto tapestry crochet graph paper.

The “posterize” feature of Photoshop produced the image on the right from the photo on the left.

The number of colors and the posterized colors themselves are easily changed in Photoshop.

The colors on the left were altered with Photoshop’s “color balance”, then the image was transformed into black and white with “grayscale”.
Photoshop’s “mosaic” feature further simplified the image into squares of various values.

The online site, KnitPro, quickly (and for free) transformed my photo into a square-ruled graph.

Square-ruled graph done on KnitPro from a 3 color photo prepared in Photoshop.

KnitPro just as easily produced the rectangle-ruled graph below.

Rectangular-ruled graph done on KnitPro from the same 3 color photo.

To my knowledge, though, there is no computer program available that will fill in tapestry crochet graph paper automatically. Digital versions of the most popular tapestry crochet graph papers are posted in the files section of the Yahoo Tapestry Crochet group. The graph paper may be printed out, then placed over an image on a light table and filled in by hand or the graph may be digitally placed over a photo, then filled in (cell by cell) with the paint bucket tool.

Some the flesh tone was filled in on the right with Photoshop’s “paint bucket” tool.

For creating graphs of animals, flowers, etc., there are millions of free online images available for inspiration. For instance, Google “horse”, then click on “images” to find a profile view, then trace it onto the appropriate graph paper. This method helps achieve more accurate proportions and had I used one of those images, perhaps my horses would NOT have turned out like donkeys!

Simply Felted Basket

Friday, December 9th, 2011

The new Simply Crochet book by Robyn Chachula includes twenty two patterns from a number of crochet designers. My felted Tapestry Basket is one of them – crocheted with Cascade Yarns’ dreamy 100% Peruvian Cascade 220 wool.

Tapestry Basket in Simply Crochet Book.

My bead tapestry crochet Master Bag featured a woven twill motif, so this time I chose a different basket weave. The colors didn’t contrast enough in the first attempt so I crocheted the final version with yellow instead of beige. The first one was also too narrow, but since the motif was ten stitches wide and there were ten increases per round, it was easy to add three more rounds to make it wider without affecting the motif.

First and final versions of the felted tapestry basket.

I love felted tapestry crochet! The large, loose stitches are easy on the hands and the projects materialize so quickly. The felted fabric is substantial and the pattern is visible on both sides.

Interiors of the first and final versions of the felted tapestry basket.

A washing machine transformed the crocheted basket below into the felted basket above.

This is how the Tapestry Basket looked before it was felted. 

Are you hooked by felted tapestry crochet yet? If so – or if not – please look at my video tutorial and at my web page and Bead & Felted Tapestry Crochet book for more felted tapestry crochet projects.

Shallow Single Tapestry Crochet

Wednesday, November 2nd, 2011

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Out of Print – But Not Out of Style

Friday, October 21st, 2011

Tapestry Crochet was the first of three books that I wrote to spread the word about this fabulous technique. I couldn’t turn this out-of-print book into an e-book because the publisher owns the copyrights of the layout and graphs – but I own the copyrights of the projects and text.

After Interweave said I could republish the projects, I updated the text and redrew the graphs – this time making separate sets for right handed and left handed crocheters (the written instructions are the same for both right handed and left handed crocheters, but the photos and graphs are reversed).

My second book, More Tapestry Crochet, has expanded history and design sections, so I only concentrated on making the eight most popular projects available online, grouping them together by format.

“Rounds’ projects for left handed and “Rounds” projects for right handed crocheters from Tapestry Crochet, 1991.

Spiral’ projects for left handed and “Spiral” projects for right handed crocheters from Tapestry Crochet, 1991.

I actually wrote Tapestry Crochet in the early 1980’s, but it took ten years to get it published! Most of the other pattern books at the time featured expensive fibers, but my Mom and her friends preferred to crochet with inexpensive synthetic yarns, so I made most of the projects with their favorites to appeal to people like them. Unfortunately, most of those yarns are no longer made – but that’s the situation with many published patterns.

I’m an artist and art professor, so the projects were designed not only to teach the basics, but also to provide crocheters with fresh ideas and design tools. I try to encourage crocheters to tweak the patterns, but even when the instructions are followed to the letter, each finished piece is still unique because substituting yarns makes them that way!

What really amazes me when I stop and think about it, though, is that these pieces were crocheted 30 years ago – but they don’t look dated – at least not to me!