Archive for the ‘Tapestry Crochet Design’ Category

Striped Basket

Saturday, June 12th, 2010

What would you do if Brett Bara, the editor of Crochet Today! sent you eight vibrant colors of Debbie Stoller’s fabulous Stitch Nation Full O’Sheep 100% Peruvian wool and asked for a 12″ diameter, striped tapestry crochet basket somewhat like the coiled baskets below?

Coil basket

Coiled Baskets
These four coiled baskets served as inspiration for the tapestry crocheted basket.

Well, what do you think of my solution?

Beautiful Basket in July/August 2010 Crochet Today!
The carried yarns contribute to the sturdiness of the basket and the hefty looking “coil”.

This basket is not for beginners because it’s quite a challenge to carry seven colors at the same time! How did I keep the yarns from tangling? Well, I placed them next to each other as shown below and let the yarn cross over the others close to the fabric each time I switched colors.

Beautiful Tapestry Crochet Basket
Seven colorful yarns were carried while one was tapestry crocheted.

The tight gauge hides most of the carried yarns, but some of them pop through, especially on the back of the fabric.

Front Detail of the Beautiful Basket
Front detail of the Beautiful Basket in July/August Crochet Today!

Back Detail of the Beautiful Basket
Back detail of the same tapestry crocheted basket.

I thrive on challenges, so I really enjoyed designing and crocheting this project. If you like a challenge, too, then this basket is for you!

A Patriotic Bag

Tuesday, April 27th, 2010

I crocheted the first version of this bag in China in 2004. I hoped to find crocheters there so that I could show them how to tapestry crochet. Fortunately, the language barrier was not a problem when I demonstrated how to carry and switch colors to the many enthusiastic Chinese women I found crocheting in public all over China.

Carol Ventura in China
In a gondola going up to the Great Wall of China.

This bag received so many compliments that I decided to redo it and submit the pattern for publication. The Kolibri thread I used for the first purse was no longer available, so I crocheted the next one with Classic Elite Provence mercerized Egyptian cotton.

My busy life doesn’t allow lots of time for crochet, so I do it whenever I can. I crocheted the new version on the way to and from the 2009 Crochet Guild of America National Conference in Buffalo last August – and even during the conference. Projects for publication are usually top secret, but Michele Maks, the wonderful editor of Crochet World, said it would be OK for me to do it there.

Carol Ventura in Las Vegas
Waiting for my plane in the Las Vegas airport.

Then I crocheted a few more inches on the way to and from my daughter’s lovely wedding in Las Vegas last September. In the past, I could only crochet while not moving, so I’d crochet in the airport and in the plane while still at the gate, but would put it down when the plane took off to avoid becoming nauseous. The rapidly approaching deadline encouraged me to try to crochet while we were in the air. Fortunately, for the first time in my life, I was actually able to work on it during most of the flight!

Why are the stars up-side-down? Well, when I drew the stars onto tapestry crochet graph paper, they looked much better this way. The slight diagonals to the right and left on the bottom point of the star worked out really well, but putting two points on the bottom of the motif was very awkward.

The red, white, and blue threads were used in all the rounds; two threads were carried while the other was worked. The carried threads and tight gauge done with a size 00 steel crochet hook created a very sturdy fabric that didn’t need a liner.

New Patriotic Purse
Stars & Stripes Tote in June 2010 Crochet World Magazine.

Would you like to make your own patriotic purse? Well, you’re in luck, because this pattern is in the June 2010 issue of Crochet World. Please ignore the published pattern note, though, that says “join rounds with a slip stitch” because this bag is crocheted as a spiral without slip stitches joining the rounds.

Siglinde

Tuesday, February 23rd, 2010

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

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

Siglinde’s tapestry crochet bag
1990’s

Tapestry Crochet Pillows by Siglunde
April 2006

Siglinde’s tapestry crochet hat
September 2006

Siglinde’s tapestry crochet hat
September 2006

Siglinde’s tapestry crochet hat
September 2006

Siglinde’s tapestry crochet tablecloth
October 2006

Siglinde’s tapestry crochet tablecloth
October 2006

Siglinde’s 2006 tapestry crochet bag
December 2006

Siglinde’s 2007 tapestry crochet bag
January 2007

Siglinde’s tapestry crochet bag
April 2007

Two tapestry crochet bags by Siglinde
April 2007

Siglinde’s 2007 tapestry crochet bag
September 2007

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

Pippi

Sunday, January 31st, 2010

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

Pippi Konstanski
Pippi Konstanski of Pocatello, Idaho.

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

Pippi’s Bauble Bag
Bauble Bag, Summer of 1997

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

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

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

Pippi’s Irish Bag
September 1998

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pippi’s Chocolate Bag
Chocolate Bar Bag, August 2008

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

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

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

Pippi’s Two Strap Bag

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

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

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

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

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

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

La Guapa

Thursday, January 7th, 2010

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

Betsy Gude
Betsy, La Guapa, tapestry crocheting.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

La Guapa’a bag
Betsy’s Icky Bag.

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

Barbro

Thursday, December 3rd, 2009

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Barbro’s Comet Purse
Tapestry crocheted in April 2009.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Trapper Joel

Saturday, November 14th, 2009

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It’s About Time

Sunday, August 16th, 2009

Tight tapestry crochet stitches with J&P Coats Crochet Nylon produces a very sturdy fabric – perfect for this clock face from the August 2009 issue of Crochet World. Tapestry crocheting with nylon is hard on the hands, but much easier with a hook with a handle.

Tapestry Crochet Clock Face
It’s About Time Tapestry Crochet Clock Face, 12 1/4″ diameter

There are two ways to display this timely piece. For the domed look seen above, a clock movement with a regular shaft that uses a size C battery is best, but for the flattened look below, the clock movement needs to have a 1 1/4″ long shaft to raise the hands high enough to clear the fabric. I bought my movement and the 5 3/4″ hands online from clockparts.com.

Tapestry Crochet Clock Face

Time’s a wastin’! You need to take your time to give this project a try! (I couldn’t resist the puns – wait a minute – here comes another one!)

New World Sweater

Wednesday, July 29th, 2009

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

Front of The New World Sweater
The New World Sweater

Tapestry Crochet Sweater
Back view of The New World Sweater.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Market in Style

Thursday, April 23rd, 2009

Have you ever heard the expression, “Necessity is the mother of invention”? Well – my first market bag proves it true. When I got to the top of the bag, I realized it was WAY too wide, so I had to either rip it out and make it narrower, or come up with another solution. As you can see, I chose the latter. I rationalized that it would make a great market bag – and it does! And it’s even crocheted with fabulous organic cotton!

Lion Brand Organic Cotton is only sold in 4 natural shades, so I chose two contrasting colors, then thought about what motif would work best.

Fortunately, this Right Way Market Bag Pattern will be available for a very long time since Crochet World is not only printed, but may also be downloaded.

Right Way Tapestry Crochet Market Bag
Right Way Market Bag in April Crochet World Magazine.

The way the handles slip through the rim is a bit tricky, but they work great to close and support the bag!

Flattened Right Way Tapestry Crochet Market Bag
Opened Right Way Market Bag in April Crochet World Magazine.

My next market bag was not as wide, but the handles were similar, looping through the rim. Unfortunately, neither this Market Bag pattern nor the colorful worsted weight Euroflax linen is available for now. Any strong worsted weight fiber could be substituted, though.

Market Bag
Market Bag in Issue 7 of Knit on the Net Online Magazine.

The third Market Bag I designed was published by Interweave Crochet this Spring. As you can see from the photo (of my model daughter), I finished it last Fall, but things are done way ahead in publishing.

Interweave Spring Market Bag
Spring Market Bag in Spring 2009 Interweave Crochet Magazine.

This bag was crocheted with a thinner linen, Fibra Natura Flax. Instead of 2 handles, it only has one – another variation on the theme.

Interweave Spring Market Bag Open
Open Spring Market Bag in Interweave Crochet Magazine.

These bags will assure that your are marketing in style – while you save the planet – so I hope you will give them a try!

Handy Blocking

Saturday, April 4th, 2009

The brand new UK magazine, Inside Crochet, includes the pattern for this Handy Basket (tapestry crocheted with Size 18 La Espiga Omega Nylon). Why does it look so lumpy? Well, just about everything I tapestry crochet looks like that – until the last step of the process, “blocking”.

Handy Basket Before Blocking
Handy Basket before blocking.

My favorite blocking tool is a steam iron. Since nylon melts at high temperatures, it’s on the lowest setting that will allow steam to form. (Higher temperatures may be used with other fibers.) Steam is not absolutely necessary, but it makes blocking much easier.

Bottom of the Handy Basket
Blocking the bottom of the Handy Basket.

The iron may be placed directly onto the project, or a towel may be placed between the two to protect the surface of the fabric.

Blocking Handy Basket
Blocking the sides of the Handy Basket.

I press down hard – on the inside and outside – all around. Fortunately, this basket is large enough that the iron fits inside without a problem. (I insert a towel-covered can into smaller baskets to help support and shape them during blocking.)

Handy Waste Basket
Handy Basket after blocking.

Quite an improvement,  don’t you think?

And the winner is . . .

Thursday, March 19th, 2009

The results are in for the First Annual Flamie Awards (inspired by the CLF Flaming Hook of Justice) . . . and in the category of “Best Crochet Design for Home Decor” the winner is . . .

Sunburst Tapestry Crochet Basket
Sunburst Bowl from the September/October issue of Crochet Today!

Flamie Award for Home Decor Design
Crochet Liberation Front Flamie Award

Just in case you missed it, you can still listen to the awards ceremony at Getting Loopy. “Part Duh” of the awards show will air on March 30th. For more about this tapestry crocheted bowl, please look at my earlier blog post. And all of you out there in cyberland, thanks SO MUCH for voting for my design!

Annie’s Obsession

Saturday, January 17th, 2009

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Views of Annie’s Tapestry Crochet Basket

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2009 Crochet Calendar

Monday, December 29th, 2008

Looking for a 2009 calendar? Do you crochet? Then you’re in luck – because the 2009 Crochet Calendar can keep you up to date and happily hooking all year!

Crochet Calendar

This calendar has both easy and more challenging projects – and includes the pattern for my felted tapestry crochet basket below.

Felted Calendar Basket
15″ diameter Felted Tapestry Crochet Basket in the 2009 CROCHET CALENDAR

For those who like to crochet loosely – this is the project for you – since it’s tapestry crocheted with a size P hook, chunky wool, and loose stitches. The wool magically shrinks and felts in a washing machine. The beauty of felted tapestry crochet is that the pattern is visible on both sides of the fabric.

Felted Basket before felting
This is what the basket looked like before felting.

Yes, this basket was supposed to be a hat, but it turned out WAY too big – so voila – a basket was born!

Sunburst Bowl

Thursday, October 16th, 2008

How do I design my tapestry crochet pieces? Sometimes editors request specific projects. They choose the fiber and colors, suggest the shape and size, and often provide a picture for inspiration. This is what happened with my Sunburst Bowl pattern in the September/October issue of Crochet Today!

Inspiration for the Sunburst Basket
This coiled basket inspired my Sunburst Bowl.

As usual, I didn’t copy, but created a new piece based on the original inspiration. Copying is not only illegal, but also disrespectful to the original designer. The design usually changes anyway when translating from one medium to another.

I usually only carry one or two colors, but the (size 3) J&P Coats Royale Fashion Crochet Thread was too fine to produce a large tapestry crochet bowl using this method, so I decided to carry five threads to reproduce the coiled look of the original basket and to give it some structure. Carrying so many colors allowed me to play with color placement, too!

Sunburst Tapestry Crochet Basket before blocking
The Sunburst Bowl before ironing it with a steam iron.

After supplying the thread, the assistant editor asked me to write the instructions following Yarn Standards abbreviations and guidelines. The editor sent a contract that specified the date the project was due, the price, and the publication rights. I titled it “Mandala Basket,” but as editors often do, they changed it to “Sunburst Bowl.”

Sunburst Tapestry Crochet Basket
The blocked 10″ wide by 1.25″ high Sunburst Bowl.

This project is not for beginners – it’s definitely advanced tapestry crochet. A few intrepid tapestry crocheters have met the challenge, though! Lisa started the bowl below, but on Sept 13, she posted, “Okay, so the circle is done in the middle and I am carrying all 6 yarns at once. Now that I have done 8 rows, I am wondering how to keep all the yarn from turning into a nest. Everything was fine until I had to set it down!” I hope she picks it up again! I’ll post the photo with this thread if/when she does! (BTW, if you separate the balls of thread and allow the twist to happen next to the fabric when you change colors, the carried threads will not tangle so much.)

Lisa’s beginning
Lisa’s bowl.

Sheri’s tapestry crochet bowls
Here are Sheri Kelley’s bowls – before blocking – with fabulous color choices!

I’d love to hear from you and see your Sunburst Bowls!