A Tapestry Crochet Thesis

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

4 Responses to “A Tapestry Crochet Thesis”

  1. Danielle says:

    this is a gold mine! How happily it coincides with the CLF thread about backwards TC on Ravelry! Thanks for a wonderful blog Carol.

  2. Judy Grivas says:

    I SOOOO agree with your last statement…my own motto is: so much yarn and new patterns to try, not enough time.
    I think if I live to be 100 I just MIGHT get to everything on my WIM list!

    …a common thought, I think, for those of us addicted to crochet!

  3. Anu says:

    Thank you for this excellent article, beautifully researched and presented. Maarit is such a talented tapestry crochet artist. Her science shows in the precision of her stitches. An inspiration on many levels.

  4. […] playful hat was inspired by the blue baby beanie (below) that Maarit Aalto gave me in 2005 at the Crochet Days Conference in Finland. Instead of starting at the top, the […]

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