Archive for the ‘Conferences’ Category

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!

Summer 2009 Crochet Conference

Wednesday, September 2nd, 2009

Where do I begin? The 2009 CGOA Summer Conference in Buffalo was fabulous, as usual. I was able to get reacquainted with friends from previous conferences and made some new ones, too!

My classes were small, so everyone received lots of individual attention and most managed to finish their projects during class. My Bead Felted Bag class was Thursday morning, then in the afternoon I taught how to design tapestry crochet motifs and projects.

Pam Oddi, Delma Myers, and Caroline Brocato
Pam Oddi, Delma Myers, and Caroline Brocato during the bead felted tapestry crochet class.

Sheryl’s felted tapestry crochet bags before and after felting
Sheryl Coleman’s bag before and after she felt it in her washing machine.

I usually include a short motif design lesson in my tapestry crochet classes, but it was REALLY NICE to be able to focus on design for 3 hours in the afternoon. Although I remembered to take pictures in the  morning, I forgot about it during the Tapestry Crochet Project and Motif Design class. So close your eyes and imagine everyone with pencils in hand, drawing on their tapestry crochet graph papers – because that’s the picture I would have taken.

The Bead Tapestry Crochet Bracelet class lasted all day Friday. It’s the first time I’ve offered this class and I’m glad it was scheduled for 6 hours  – because we spent the morning beginning the bracelets and the afternoon finishing them. It was quite a challenge for most to work with a small hook AND to remember to carry the extra color AND to switch colors before the stitch was finished AND to slide a bead into place before finishing the stitch.

Bead Felted Tapestry Crochet Class
The bead tapestry crochet bracelet class.

Cindi McMasters and Tina Thompson
Cindy McMasters and Tina Thompson bead tapestry crochet their bracelet.

Not everyone competed their project, but most did and a few emailed me photos of their finished bracelet after the conference.

Adrienne’s bead tapestry crochet reversible bracelet
Adrienne Donner restarted and finished her bracelet at home.

One of the highlights of the conference for me was the Member Dinner and Fashion Show and this year CGOA celebrated their 15th anniversary – so it was really special – cake and all!

I usually volunteer to be a model to not only show off my own designs, but to also showcase the designs of others. This year, though, there were more than enough models, so I only modeled my New World Sweater. My talented roommate at the conference, Donna Childs, took the picture below of me on the runway.

Carol Ventura in the 2009 Fashion Show
My New World Sweater in the Fashion Show

That picture reminds me of another thing I enjoy – sharing a bedroom with another crochet enthusiast! It’s a great way to get to know someone and I’ve been very lucky! Fortunately, we’ve always been very compatible.

And guess what? If things weren’t great enough, my Harvest tapestry won second place in the Crochet Art Category of the Design Contest! It earned a ribbon and $200 from Interweave! Other prizes were donated by Coats & Clark, Boye Needle Company, DRG, and Martingale & Company.

Carol and Harvest her tapestry
Harvest tapestry won 2nd place!

I was also able to satisfy my art history appetite by visiting one of the first surviving skyscrapers, the Prudential (Guaranty) Building (Donna and I even got to go inside), and I also visited the Albright Knox Art Gallery. Several paintings and sculptures from my art history classes were on exhibit at the Gallery, so it was really exciting! Nothing like seeing the real thing for the first time!

The day after I flew back from Buffalo, I was on a plane to Ghana – then school started the day after I returned from Ghana. So this has indeed been a busy summer! I love to travel, but it’s really nice to be home again!

Getting Ready

Thursday, July 16th, 2009

So what have I been doing for the past few weeks? Well, other than working on our new energy efficient house (doing the unpleasant, but necessary, insulating and caulking around the windows and doors, etc.), I’ve been getting ready for the 2009 Crochet Guild of America Conference in Buffalo.

I wasn’t able to attend last year’s conference because it conflicted with my trip to Ghana. I’m going to Ghana again in August, but a few days after returning from Buffalo. In fact, I shortened my Ghana trip to attend the 2009 Conference.

I not only enjoy the conferences, but learn a lot, too! Back in 2007, one of the Professional Development Day panelists asked me why I was attending, but I knew that I still had a lot to learn – and I did. On that day, Kim Werker encouraged me to start this blog during her Internet session (and this is my 65th post)! Lilly Chin prepped us for the media – explaining the importance of preparing catchy phrases and memorable responses ahead of time for when the opportunity presents itself. Rita Weiss and Jean Leinhauser told us what editors wanted. I didn’t realize, for instance, that submissions should include pieces of each yarn used and the yarn labels; that the project should be tagged with both my name and it’s title; that each page of the instructions should include my name, the project title, and the page number; and that some editors prefer to block the pieces themselves!

It’s a lot of work to submit good conference class proposals, then to get everything ready when they’re accepted! A little more work for me this time because I prepared separate instructions for right-handed and left-handed crocheters! I also requested and received free beads, beading needles, yarn, and thread from several generous companies for my classes. I loaded Fire Mountain Gem triangle seed beads onto Patons Classic Wool for my Bead & Felted Tapestry Crochet Cell Phone Ribbon Bag project. Each kit includes $15 of materials, but thanks to the donations, I only need to charge $1!

Kit-Packed Bags for Chain Link 2009
My bags packed with class kits and examples.

Even though my My Bead Tapestry Crochet Cuff Bracelet is scheduled for all day Friday – I still strung Fire Mountain Gems size 8 seed beads onto white and size 6 seed beads onto colorful Aunt Lydia’s Fashion Crochet size 3 crochet cotton to allow everyone more time to finish their bracelet. I always bring along my bead spinner, thread, and beads so that class participants can practice stringing beads, too.

The most time consuming prep was putting together a Powerpoint for my Tapestry Crochet Project and Motif Design class. This interactive presentation includes info from my videos and publications and introduces new material and breaks for tapestry crochet graph paper exercises after each is introduced. I also included the types of images that inspire some of the motifs on my projects – and I look forward to seeing how they will be interpreted by each student!

I’ve sent off my submission for the Design Contest and wrapped my package for the gift exchange. The Design Contest winners will be announced Thursday night, the same night that members exchange a hand crocheted item (maximum $20 of materials). I can’t show you a picture of my package, because it’s a secret! Not everyone exchanges, but I especially love this part of the conference – so I always show up prepared!

I’m not teaching on Saturday, but decided to stay until Sunday to participate in the Fashion Show. Not only to see the runway fashions, but also to look at the fabulous crocheted ensembles and accessories worn by the fashionistas in the audience.

The deadline for preregistration is July 23rd. After that time you can still sign up, but it’s more expensive. Money aside, being surrounded by people who share my crochet passion and being able to match online names to faces is priceless. I hope to see you there – and please say hello, if you are able to make it!

Three Tapestry Crochet Classes!

Saturday, February 28th, 2009

I just found out that three of my tapestry crochet class proposals have been accepted for the Crochet Guild of America Summer Conference in Buffalo, NY! On Thursday morning (August 6th), I’ll teach how to make the Bead & Felted Tapestry Crochet Cell Phone Ribbon Bag shown below.

Bead Felted Tapestry Crochet Ribbon Bag
Bead & Felted Tapestry Crochet Cell Phone Ribbon Bag before and after felting.

As some of you already know, felting and bead tapestry crochet were made for each other! 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. Participants will crochet a bag and also learn how to design a motif on tapestry crochet graph paper. Students only need to know the single crochet stitch. Felting instructions are included, but due to time constraints, the bag will have to be felted in a washing machine at home.

You asked for it! So I’ll also be teaching an in-depth class about Tapestry Crochet Project and Motif Design on Thursday afternoon. Several different tapestry crochet papers will be used for drawing and tracing images. I’ll show how to transfer designs from other sources, then everyone will try it out. Students may also bring their own designs to transfer onto tapestry crochet graph papers during class.

My Bead Tapestry Crochet Cuff Bracelet is scheduled for all day Friday – enough time to finish the bracelet.

Bead Tapestry Crochet Cuff Bracelet
Bead Tapestry Crochet Cuff Bracelet project.

Tapestry crocheting with beads is revolutionary! Since more than one color thread is used with tapestry crochet, each one only needs to be loaded with a single bead color. The pattern is formed on one side of the cloth by adding a bead to each stitch and on the other side the colored threads create a design. This method offers fantastic design potential, since the motif doesn’t have to be pre-planned. Students will bead tapestry crochet a bracelet and also learn how to design with tapestry crochet graph paper. Students only need to know the single crochet stitch.

I hope to see you there! If you’ve never been to a CGOA conference, then you’re in for a real treat!

Australia in April

Wednesday, September 3rd, 2008

Are you looking for a tapestry crochet adventure down under? Then please consider joining me in Australia, where I’ll be teaching a couple of week-long tapestry crochet classes at FIBRES BALLARAT 2009 (April 13th – 17th), then at The April FORUM 2009 to be held at Kinross-Wolaroi School in Orange (April 19th – 25th). Ballarat is in the south, one and a half hours northwest of Melbourne, and Orange is three and a half hours west of Sydney.

Four small projects will be completed at the beginning of each week, then participants will design their own piece and either complete it in class or at home. Right and left handed crocheters will simultaneously learn about design, color and fiber art, as well as gain confidence in tapestry crochet design.

The loose stitches of the Felted Tapestry Crochet Basket below will introduce carrying and changing colors in a circular spiral format and felting.

Tapestry Crochet Baskets Before and After Felting
The Tapestry Crochet Basket project before and after felting.

The bead felted bag below will introduce beads and another format.

Bead Felted Tapestry Crochet Ribbon Bag
Bead Tapestry Crochet Cell Phone Bag project before and after felting.

The tubular bracelet project below will be tapestry crocheted with tight stitches.

Bead Tapestry Crochet Bracelet
Reversible Bead Tapestry Crochet Bracelet project.

Participants will be able to choose one of two methods to tapestry crochet the Flat Tapestry Crochet Deer project below. The size of the stitch determines the drape and size of the finished fabric.

Flat Tapestry Crochet Deer
Flat Tapestry Crochet Deer done with tight stitches on the left and loose stitches on the right.

Registration is now open for both venues. I’m so excited because I hear that it’s lots of fun (I was told to bring a funny green outfit) and it will be my first trip to Oz.

And guess what? I just realized that I will have taught tapestry crochet on 5 continents – only South America and Antarctica to go!

September 2007 CGOA Regional Conference

Friday, October 5th, 2007

I’m still recovering from the Oakland Knit and Crochet Show. Because school started, I had to fly there Friday, teach my classes, then return Sunday on the “red eye.” The luxury of staying a few extra days was not an option this time. Back “in the day” this wouldn’t have been a problem. Yes, it was worth it.

The view from Nashville to Dallas to Oakland was spectacular. Looking down at the green / brown / red / cultivated / dry / flat, then broken earth with meandering rivers and occasional puffy clouds was quite an aesthetic experience.

I love the window seat – especially on a clear day! Farmers are wonderful earth artists, don’t you think?

I prefer to share a room at conferences – not only to split the cost, but it’s a wonderful opportunity to meet and get to know a person one on one. I lucked out at the last minute when a mutual friend helped me find Deanna! It’s always a little scary to share a room with someone you don’t know. Fortunately, I’ve been blessed with a perfect match every time! Deanna’s specialty is bead knitting, so we had a lot in common. She was a vendor at the Market and did quite well, almost selling out all her bead knitting kits. No wonder – her scarves, bags, and shawls are to die for!

Deanna Van Assche
Deanna Van Assche of Deanna’s Vintage Style shows off a bead knit shawl in her booth.

My classes were smaller than usual, in fact, one of them was cancelled. Many of the teachers I spoke to had the same experience. I could be wrong, but it seemed like there were more crocheters than knitters in attendance. Smaller classes meant more individualized attention for participants, though.

I used a bead spinner to string size 8 beads from Fire Mountain Gems onto Aunt Lydia’s Fashion Crochet size 3 crochet cotton before the Bead Tapestry Crochet Bag class began, but this time, I did not use clear beads on white thread (as promised).

Bead tapestry crochet bag class
The Bead Tapestry Crochet Bag class was lots of fun, and we all learned something new, too!

One of the highlights of every conference is meeting online friends. Deborah Martin and I began tapestry crochet correspondence last year. She took both of my classes and contributed LOTS of great tips. Thanks, Deborah!

Bead tapestry crochet bag
Deborah Martin and Margaret Tullis bead tapestry crocheting their bags.

This is how Deborah Martin keeps her threads from tangling when she switches colors.

The Bead Tapestry Crochet Tube Bracelet class went well, too, using larger size 6 beads from Fire Mountain Gems with the same Aunt Lydia’s Fashion Crochet size 3 crochet cotton.

Crocheting a tapestry crochet bead bracelet.
Cynthia Wheeler and Deborah Martin bead tapestry crochet a bracelet.

Detail of bead tapestry crochet bracelet
Elizabeth Bates’ bead tapestry crochet bracelet. Yes, this WILL be a bracelet – after around 5 more inches of rounds of bead tapestry crochet!

Another highlight of the conference was the Member’s Dinner Fashion Show – a great place to renew acquaintances and make new friends. I volunteered to help model, which made it even more exciting!

Carol Ventura, Kathleen Sams, and Vicki Blizzard
As promised in a previous blog, I wore my signature earrings and Korsnas outfit during the Member’s Dinner. Next to me are Kathleen Sams and Vicki Blizzard of Coats and Clark.

Carol Modeling in the Fashion Show
I modeled my own bead felted Button Flap Bag and several pieces by other designers, including Deanna’s comfortable bead knit shawl.

Fashion Show
I’m third from the left in the Fashion Show finale.

What a wild weekend! Yes, I’m still recovering, but now you know why it was SO WORTH IT!

Tapestry Crochet in Finland

Sunday, July 29th, 2007


I dreamed about researching tapestry crochet in Finland, but thought it would happen “when pigs fly.” So, when I was invited to teach tapestry crochet at the 2005 Crochet Days Conference in Vaasa/ Vasa, I was inspired to bead tapestry crochet a purse with flying pigs. I worked on the square base before the conference and continued onto the sides in Finland. The instructions for this purse were published by Simply Creative Crochet magazine in 2006.

The type of tapestry crochet done in Finland is similar to that of the rest of Europe. The hook is inserted into the back loop, which produces a cloth with wonderful drape and the front loop forms a horizontal line under each row of single crocheted stitches. The colored yarns are worked very efficiently by placing them on either side of the finger.

Tapestry crocheted cuffs are very popular in Finland.

A (right-handed) conference participant showed me how to switch colors back and forth (without dropping and picking them up for each color change) on my “Flying Pigs” bag. (I was actually working 3 colors for this bag, but her demo was for 2 colors, so please ignore the pink thread.) This method works well for quickly switching colors back and forth, but is awkward for crocheting several stitches at a time. As seen below, one color is secured on the front of the left forefinger and the other on the back, then fancy hook work allows one thread to be carried while the other is worked.

To change color, yarn over with white (ignore the pink thread).

Continue to single crochet with white while working around blue.

If you would like to give it a try, instructions for these cuffs (by Jeanette Rönnqvist-Aro) are in Luutonen and Bäckman’s 2003 book, DECORATIVE CROCHETING. Mittens, bags, and Korsnäs sweaters are also included.


The 2005 Crochet Days Conference was sponsored by Loftet and the Finnish Crafts Organization.

After presenting a slide lecture about the history of tapestry crochet, I led two bead tapestry crochet workshops to students who could tapestry crochet circles around me! Inserting the hook under two loops and incorporating beads was different for them, though, so they were very excited to learn something new. As usual, I learned a lot, to!

Students bead tapestry crochet a small basket.

Maarit Aalto wrote her master’s thesis about tapestry crochet
and also taught it at the conference.

After the conference we visited Korsnäs, famous for marrying knitting and tapestry crochet. That will be the topic of my next blog.

July 2007 CGOA National Conference

Tuesday, July 24th, 2007

I was inspired to do my first web page at a Crochet Guild of America (CGOA) conference several years ago. I have since created around a hundred web pages about crafts around the world (which are linked to my home page). It was during Kim Werker‘s “How to Use the Web to Build Your Business” session on Professional Day at the recent CGOA Conference in New Hampshire that I decided to start a blog. When my hotel roommate, Karen Whooley, offered to get me started and Robert Chapman helped me put it online, there was no turning back. So here I go!

Although I never look forward to the flight, it is GREAT FUN to be surrounded by people who are so excited about crochet! This time, I decided to make a real effort to meet new people and hopefully, to remember their names (I’m awful at that). I recognized Christy McMahon’s tapestry crochet bag from the photos she posted in my Yahoo Tapestry Crochet Group on the web. It was wonderful to put a face with a name!

Me and Christy McMahon (with our tapestry
crocheted bags) in the hotel lobby.

Although I was tempted to escape to my room after class, I forced myself to get out there and mingle! I am a social person, but when in a new place, I often retreat to the security of my room. Anyway, this time I fought the urge and on the very first night I had “drinks and dinner” with some very big shots in the industry. Not being much of a drinker, I asked for “something sweet.” And – that’s how I was introduced to my very first martini. A bright red battery-powered “ice cube” made it glow.

Marty Miller, me, and Kim Werker unwind at the CGOA Conference.

I hone my skills every time I teach. I used a bead spinner to string size 8 beads from Fire Mountain Gems onto Aunt Lydia’s Fashion Crochet size 3 crochet cotton before class because I knew it would take too much time for everyone to do it during class. I also knew that bead tapestry crochet is best taught with large beads and that black thread should be avoided (too difficult to see), but I did not realize that clear beads on white thread was not a good choice because it is also difficult to see. Although several students liked the look, one of them was so frustrated, she left the all-day Bead Tapestry Crochet Bag class early. Even though I tried to give her another ball of thread with colored beads, she had reached her limit.

Delma Myers, a “lefty”, chose colors that coordinated with her hair and outfit.

Katie Morrissey crochets the handle of
a bag that has her own original motif.

Katie Morrissey and B. J. Licko-Keel designed their own motifs, so they needed more beads of one color. B. J. shared the “Russian join” and “sewn splice” techniques that she used to pass beads from one thread to another, quite a time saver!

B. J. Licko-Keel shows the class how to do a “Russian join.”

I was nervous about the sold-out Bead Tapestry Crochet Bracelet class before it started because I knew the project could not be finished in class, but none of the 30 students seemed to mind. I suppose it was because after bead tapestry crocheting 4 or 5 rounds with size 6 beads from Fire Mountain Gems and Aunt Lydia’s Fashion Crochet size 3 crochet cotton , they were comfortable with the technique and the motif was relatively easy.

Bead Tapestry Crochet Tube Bracelet Class at the Summer Conference.

The Felted Tapestry Crochet Basket was the easiest project because a loose stitch was used – and no beads. The basket was crocheted with Lion Wool in class, then I explained how to felt it at home in the washing machine.

The felted basket was a good introduction to the technique.

These three tapestry crochet classes will be offered again at the Fall CGOA Conference in Oakland, CA. I hope to see you there – and I promise not to have any kits with clear beads on white thread!