Anne Churches and her husband live in Kyabram, a small dairy and fruit farming community around 124 miles /200 km north of Melbourne, Australia. They retired around five years ago to part of the property that used to be their orchard. Anne enjoys golf, weaving, seeing her eleven grandchildren, and of course, tapestry crochet.
This talented artist has been designing and hand weaving stunning shaft shifting rugs on a large floor loom in her home for about ten years. While looking for something to do with the left over wool, she discovered tapestry crochet. As you can see, Anne’s unique sense of design and color have translated well. Over the past two years, she’s sold more than seventy tapestry crocheted bags at Wool Shows, Handweaver and Spinner Sharing Days, through her network of friends, and on her web site.
When asked what inspires her motifs, Anne said they develop as she explores the technique, adding that “I like free form shapes and also flowers. My most popular designs have been called ‘Organic’. A wonderful way to use up many colours.”
And how does she achieve the vibrant variegated colors? After purchasing New Zealand yarn from carpet manufacturers in Melbourne (similar to Jason Collingwood rug yarn), she dyes it with Lanaset dyes, 500 grams at a time in a 5 gallon / 19 liter stock pot on her kitchen stove. For the bags, she doubles the yarn and crochets them with a size G/ 7 / 4.5 mm hook with a wooden handle, specially made for her by a wood turner. Most of her bags are around 13″ 33 cm x 13″ / 33cm in size (not including the strap).
If you’d like to tapestry crochet one of Anne’s bags, you’re in luck, because the pattern for her Summer Bag (below) is for sale on her website. The instructions are clear and the pattern includes several stitch diagrams photographs. Anne plans to add more patterns in the future.
For hands-on workshops, Anne will be teaching how to tapestry crochet a bag in Kyabram and Wangaratta in October and November. Although students are not able to finish it during class, she shows samples of the base, the beginning of the sides, the strap, and the flap and tie and explains how to complete each step. So far, all of her students have finished their bags afterwards!
Anne says it best, “I never tire of making bags. Also I am forever developing new designs. I have found an activity that can go with me anywhere. You can’t weave a rug in the car!”