Annie’s Obsession

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.

6 Responses to “Annie’s Obsession”

  1. What a marvellous quilts you have made! I really celtic motifs and those were fabulous!

  2. Victoria (minimomes1) says:

    I just love those celtic motifs. I also like the blankets and how there seems to be no slanting in the designs. What an inspiration to everyone.

  3. Rosalie says:

    Do you know where I can find a pattern for this lovely “kitty basket”? Thank you.

    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.”

  4. Thanks for sharing , great artistry and crafter!

  5. Diana M says:

    Annie,

    Wow. Amazing talent and creativity in your blankets!

  6. Sherrie Broadbent says:

    The blankets and tapestries are lovely Anne! Wonderful designs and nice workmanship. Who would have knowed you were so dang talented? LOL!

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