About Suzann Thompson
Our house was
quickly filling up with sweaters, so I had to find a way to
slow down my production, while still allowing myself to knit
at every possible moment. These sweaters were knitted on size
3 needles in a wonderful cotton yarn called RBC. They took a
lot longer to knit than previous
taught me to knit when I was in second grade, and I sat
on the couch, sliding down and down with each row until my back was
on the seat of the couch and my neck bent at a ninety-degree angle.
When this became too uncomfortable, I'd heave myself up, get back to
knitting, and start the slow descent again.
knitting and purling and fell in love with variegated yarn. I made
yards of I-cord on a German "Strick-liesl" or spool knitter. In
sixth grade or so, I knitted my dad a cable sweater. It was easy. I
just followed the instructions. Couldn't everyone do
during the late 1970s and early '80s, I took up knitting and crochet
again with great enthusiasm, most likely to avoid doing homework.
The University of Texas library had a sad lack of knitting books. I
found "the art of weaving" books, and "the fabulous craft of
quilting" books, but where were the sections of "the incredible art
and craft of knitting" books? Where were the stacks of "crochet is a
wonderful art and craft" books? Didn't everyone know that knitting
and crochet were art media, just like weaving, quilting, painting,
sculpture, and embroidery? And why was a biology major looking for books about
textiles? My gut knew my true calling, even if my brain tried to ignore it.
hundreds of thousands of books at UT, I found two that supported my intuition and
understanding. Angela Jeffs' Wild Knitting, and Elyse
Sommer's A New Look at Crochet served me as heralds of an age
to come: a world where lots of people knit and crochet for the
undeniable fun of it, where skillful knitters and crocheters knit fine
garments, and where fine artists use knitting or crochet as one of
many possible media.
I worked for a
while at a now-defunct yarn store in Austin, and saw the need for
knitters and crocheters to get together and share techniques and
ideas. In 1983, I founded The Knitter's and Crocheter's Guild of
Texas, later scaled back to "of Austin." People joined, learned,
enjoyed visiting, and volunteered. The Guild is still active today
after several cycles of popularity and doldrums in knitting and
crochet. I made lifelong friends through the Guild, who joined in my
happiness at my wedding and at the birth of my first
One of our
Guild members was a crochet designer who published her work in
magazines. Pam introduced me to the Society of Craft Designers. At
my first SCD conference, I sold a sweater pattern to Southwest
Crafts magazine. It was the first of about 150 designs I have
published in the crafts of knitting, crochet, jewelry-making, and
This necklace was featured in Jewelry Crafts
Through the events I went to and the contacts I made in the
SCD, I was invited to be a Fairfield Fashion Show designer (1994 and
1997). My friend Michelle Crawford said, "Suzann, I didn't know you
were a quilter."
"I'm not," I
said. "The rules for designing a Fairfield Fashion Show garment
don't say that you have to be a quilter." At the time, the most
important rules were: you must use a significant amount of Fairfield
quilt batting, and the garment must be size 10. I could do that! My
coats were knitted and quilted.
Hungarian Spring is knitted on the
Bond frame (now known as the Ultimate Sweater Machine). I
added fairly lofty batting and cotton lining, and mostly tied
the resulting quilt sandwich by sewing on buttons. The big
flowers are outlined with cross-locked glass beads, sewn on
through all layers.
In 1996, we
moved far away to Sheffield, England. Aside from the occasional
special issue, and two machine knitting mags, Rowan
Knitting was the only knitting magazine published in
Britain. The latter was out of reach for an unknown knitting
designer, who was also the mother of a small child. I worked only
after my little girl was in bed, so I couldn't produce designs very
internet, I met Sue Heaser and other polymer clay enthusiasts. Sue
founded the British Polymer Clay Guild. I was a member of the first
committee, which is like a board of directors. Thanks to Sue, I
landed a contract to write The Polymer Clay Sourcebook, which
is sold in the U. S. as Polymer Clay for Everyone.
I had lots of
time to think during those first few years when we didn't know very
many people. It was time, I thought, to make that knitted art that I
longed to find all those years ago in college.
Glimpse into the Twenty-first Century was one of my first
knitted wall hangings. It toured with Madeira's Fireworks 2000
exhibition. Aside from being a knitted quilt, the piece is unusual
in that it has two surfaces. I sliced the quilt top, bound the cut
edges, and sewed buttonholes in the resulting flaps.
With the flaps closed, the quilt shows fireworks.
Open the flaps, button them out, and you'll find a bright
heart underneath. I call this a "peek-a-boo" quilt.
Unfortunately, this kind of quilt has taught me that I can't
have it all. The quilt can't be open and closed at the same
One of my
American friends in Sheffield took me to a meeting of the
Hallamshire Guild of Weavers, Spinners, and Dyers. Once again I met
people who will be friends for life. They inspired me to learn to
spin. What a wonderful way to add to the enjoyment of knitting and
crochet: making your own yarn!
Guild invited Sarah Burge from The Colour Museum in Bradford to give
a talk. I asked about exhibiting at the Museum, and she said that
the staff would soon be reviewing proposals for the next two years'
exhibitions. I quickly put together two proposals. Both were
accepted for 2002: Feeling Colour, a group exhibition of polymer
clay work, and Treasure Textiles, a show of 14 of my knitted,
embellished quilts (see the Art Gallery).
This vase is covered using my "Family Tree
Rings" polymer clay technique. It was exhibited in "Feeling
Treasure Textiles finished its run, our second daughter was born
in England. She was six months old when we moved back across the
Atlantic to our home state of Texas. In 2004, I was able to start
working again with some regularity (at night, mostly).
support of people like Diane Piwko, former publisher of INKnitters magazine,
and companies like Husqvarna Viking and others, I developed the concept of Textile Fusion. The idea of
combining crafts and materials is not new: you've heard of 'mixed
media.' And yet many textile enthusiasts and other crafters are
discovering this possibility for the first time.
I continue to collect wonderful materials, to make, and to write. My second book, Crochet Bouquet, will be published in May 2008 by Lark Books.
is my way of combining the crafts I love, and of using the many
supplies and treasures I have accumulated over the years. I hope you
will find something here that inspires you to start a new project,
learn a new skill, or stretch your creativity and technical ability.
Contact Suzann at firstname.lastname@example.org