Tell Me About Your Doilies!

September 25th, 2016

Black-Eyed Susan Doily

I’m collecting photos of doilies and stories about them and the people who made them for an exhibit I’m doing next year at the Cross Timbers Fine Arts Council, River North Gallery, in Stephenville, Texas–and beyond, I hope!

Please join me in celebrating doilies by sharing the stories of doilies in your collection. Maybe you make doilies, or maybe your ancestors made them. Whichever it is, other people will love to read your stories.

All you have to do is send me a photo and fill out a questionnaire about you, the doily, and the person who made the doily. I’ll write the story from the information you give me.

To learn how you can join in this project, visit www.textilefusion.com/doily-heritage-project and click here to see a sample doily story.

The doily shown here was crocheted by my grandmother, Charles Etta Dunlap Thompson. I never met her, but my dad told me he was amazed that she found time to crochet and quilt, even when she was taking care of a household of nine.

By the time she made this doily, my dad and my Aunt Sue may have been the only children left at home. The pattern was published in 1949, when they would still have been in high school.

detail of Black-Eyed Susan Doily

Finding the publication date was a job for the Doily Detective (me). First I searched “daisy doily crochet pattern.” This returned lots of beautiful doilies, but not this one.

Well…the flowers might be sunflowers, I thought. A search of “sunflower doily crochet” turned up another batch of lovely pieces and hey! There was an image similar to my grandmother’s doily!

A few more clicks took me to a site that offers free vintage crochet patterns. That’s where I found out that this doily is called the Black-Eyed Susan Doily.

I searched Ravelry, an online knitting and crochet community, for the Black-Eyed Susan Doily, and found that it was published in January 1949 in Coats & Clark O. N. T. #258 Floral Doilies leaflet (pattern #D-207). The pattern also appeared in a leaflet called Floral Doilies for Crocheting.

Like quilts, doilies are an important part of our heritage. Quilts have been studied and written about extensively, but doilies have not. Let’s do something about this!

Poets and Paint Rock

September 13th, 2016

Langdon Review of the Arts in Texas weekend, Granbury, Texas

Last week was Langdon Review Weekend in Granbury, Texas. The weekend celebrates the publication of the current Langdon Review of the Arts in Texas journal, and features poetry and prose readings, art exhibits and talks, and musical events.

I was pleased to present a talk about my TextileFusion artwork at this year’s event. In conversation with people after the presentation, the subject of Paint Rock came up.

Paint Rock, Texas, is not too far from San Angelo. Native Americans painted interesting and beautiful motifs on overhanging rocks along the river.

How exactly did this happen? I’m racking my brain for the exact phrase or question that caused us to start talking about it, but I can’t remember.

petroglyphs at Paint Rock, Texas

Anyway, for whatever reason, poet karla k. morton asked, “Have you been to Paint Rock?”

I said I hadn’t, but my husband was there and took lots of pictures so I could see how wonderful it was.

“My dear friends own the land that Paint Rock is on,” she said.

“I designed a sweater with images from Paint Rock,” I said. I’m sending her pictures of the sweater.

petroglyphs at Paint Rock, Texas
This was the original sweater, made with Joseph Galler RBC Parisian Cotton, a long discontinued, fabulous cotton yarn. I used US size 3 knitting needles.

Sweater inspired by petroglyphs from Paint Rock, Texas

Later, I designed a similar sweater with heavier cotton, which was published in Southwest Crafts* magazine. Southwest Crafts has been out of print for years, but I still think of it fondly, because my Paint Rock sweater in the magazine was the first pattern I ever published for pay.

Sweater inspired by petroglyphs from Paint Rock, Texas

Sweater inspired by petroglyphs from Paint Rock, Texas

*”Ancient Indian Pictures in a Knitted Sweater,” Southwest Crafts, Vol. 1, No. 3, pp. 7 ff., January/February 1991.

Here Before You Know It!

August 30th, 2016

Lately several people I know have said, “I can’t believe we’re already at the end of August,” shaking their heads in disbelief. Today, for the first time this year, I heard someone say: “The holidays will be here before we know it.”

Hearing that made me feel pretty happy with the progress I’ve made on the felt Christmas wreath kit by Bucilla. It’s my Christmas in July project.

The second four weeks are going according to schedule:

Week five. Christmas wreath felt kit by Bucilla, one week at a time

Week six. Christmas wreath felt kit by Bucilla, one week at a time

In Week seven, all the holly leaves for the wreath are finished, and I got to make a candy cane. Christmas wreath felt kit by Bucilla, one week at a time

Now I’m getting into the really fun stuff, with this toy train engine and a peppermint candy. At around 20 pieces, the train took a long time to put together. Totally worth it, though. It is very, very cute—so cute it tugs at my heartstrings.

Christmas wreath felt kit by Bucilla, one week at a time

And my sixteen week project is at the halfway point. Looking good so far! At this rate, it will definitely be finished in time to decorate for the Christmas holidays.

For more frequent updates, please follow me on Instagram @suzannthompson.

9/6/2016–Hi y’all. This poor post got tons of spam comments, so I’m closing comments. Email your comments to me at knitandcrochetwithsuzann at outlook dot com and I’ll post them here.

Pacing Myself for Christmas

August 6th, 2016

Christmas wreath felt kit by Bucilla

I just love sparkly felt Christmas decorations!

They are fun to make, too. Herrschner’s, my favorite mail-order needlework company, has an annual sale on Christmas kits. In a fit of optimism, I ordered two kits back in 2014, thinking I could just make them in my spare time. Ha ha ha hahahahahahaaaaa!

It’s been proven that by pacing myself, I can actually get a kit finished. Blogging and Instagramming about my plan keeps me accountable. So here goes.

The goal is to finish this cute felt wreath an ornaments in time to decorate for Christmas. The kit is by Bucilla. Each week for sixteen weeks, I’ll embroider, embellish, and sew a manageable portion of the project. I started in July, and it should be done in November.

Christmas wreath felt kit by Bucilla, one week at a time

The wreath project fits nicely in a small totebag, along with scissors and a plastic container for the sequins and beads. Contrary to the instructions, which advise keeping the different colors of sequins separate, I put them all together into the container. The day I can’t pick out a green sequin from the container is the day I need to quit sewing felt kits.

I like being able to carry the project along, like I did a couple of Sundays ago. While waiting for my daughter, I lunched at Subway, ate a delicious sandwich, eavesdropped on conversations, and embroidered holly leaves. It’s amazing what you can get done between bites. A very pleasant time was had by me.

Here are the first four weeks’ work:

Week one.Christmas wreath felt kit by Bucilla, one week at a time

Week two.Christmas wreath felt kit by Bucilla, one week at a time

Week three.Christmas wreath felt kit by Bucilla, one week at a time

Week four.Christmas wreath felt kit by Bucilla, one week at a time

For more frequent updates, follow me on Instagram @suzannthompson (see sidebar for link).

Finally Finished Red Vases

August 3rd, 2016

Four a day flower sewing worked well for Firewheel Meadow, so I started with that regimen until a more urgent project distracted me.

step by step TextileFusion wall hanging, Red Vases

While appliqueing flowers (not my absolute favorite job in a wall hanging), I listened to The Three Body Problem by Cixin Liu. Listening helped me stay focused, because I really wanted to hear the next chapter and so I had to keep on sewing.

At last, all the flowers were sewn in place. My friend Peggy said, “Those bluebells need something. How about beads?” Again, a different perspective helped. I added the beads.

step by step TextileFusion wall hanging, Red Vases

The wall hanging rejected all but a few of my attempts to add buttons. A Gail Hughes green button nestled comfortably among leaves, a polymer clay button was a good flower center. But mostly, the buttons were too showy and they detracted from the flowers.

Okay, so… less showy buttons?

Yes!! I hid small tan buttons among the flowers, adding texture and interest, without drawing too much attention.

Red Vases is finished, and it will make its debut at the Town and Country Quilt Guild Show in October. Peggy said, “It will win a ribbon.” That would be nice!

step by step TextileFusion wall hanging, Red Vases

The crocheted flowers and leaves on Red Vases are from my books Crochet Bouquet and Crochet Garden. To purchase these books, please follow links on the sidebar to amazon.com.

Arranging Flowers in Red Vases

July 27th, 2016

When I’m arranging embellishments for a wall hanging, I like to get other peoples’ input. It helps me see things from a different perspective.

In the past, my daughters helped me out (and here, too). In April, participants in the International Quilt Festival (Chicago) Open Studios event arranged and rearranged flowers for Red Vases. We discussed the merits of different color combinations, flower shapes, and number of flowers.

Here are a few options we came up with:

step by step TextileFusion wall hanging, Red Vases step by step TextileFusion wall hanging, Red Vases step by step TextileFusion wall hanging, Red Vases

step by step TextileFusion wall hanging, Red Vases

Back at home, I consulted these photos while making the final arrangement for Red Vases, and this is it:

Wait! On second thought, this became the really, really final arrangement.

step by step TextileFusion wall hanging, Red Vases

Now to sew all those flowers in place.

How Red Vases Began

July 24th, 2016

step by step TextileFusion wall hanging, Red Vases

Quilters and other crafters are generous people. I picked up this long, skinny seed packet panel at a quilt guild meeting—someone was cleaning out old projects and brought it to the giveaway table. The panel was about 11 inches wide and 37.5 inches long.

It lay in my fabric stack for a few years, while I contemplated how to incorporate it into a project. Finally it challenged me to use it as the backing fabric for a long, skinny quilt.

step by step TextileFusion wall hanging, Red Vases

That was the beginning of Red Vases, only the vases didn’t start out red. Originally I was going to recycle a tan lace sweater. You would be able to see green stems behind the lace and it was going to be great!

Only, as you can see, it wasn’t very great. It was boring.

I dug out some red and red and white checked knitting left over from another project (scroll to the end of the post). Much better!

step by step TextileFusion wall hanging, Red Vases

Luckily this change of vase didn’t set me back too far, because the wall hanging had to be pieced, quilted, and bound in time for the International Quilt Festival in Chicago in April, and time was growing short.

At the Open Studios event in Chicago, various people joined me in arranging flowers on Red Vases. Our first major decision, unanimously approved, was the choice of Edelweiss over Van Wyk Roses in the little vase.

step by step TextileFusion wall hanging, Red Vases--Edelweiss

step by step TextileFusion wall hanging, Red Vases—Van Wyk Roses

Patterns for the crocheted “Edelweiss” and “Van Wyk Roses” are from Crochet Garden: Bunches of Flowers, Leaves, and Other Delights. See sidebar for a link to the Crochet Garden page at Amazon.com.

Mama Lion Roars Again

July 21st, 2016

Mama Lion by Suzann Thompson

Mama Lion, which debuted in a big way last year on World Lion Day, was featured during June 2016 at the Light Space & Time Online Art Gallery, as part of the Animals Art Exhibition, Special Merit Award Category.

Mama Lion by Suzann Thompson at Light Space Time

Mama Lion by Suzann Thompson at Light Space Time

I’m pleased to share (or show off, if you want to be truly accurate) the ribbon and certificate I received for having one of my wall hangings in the show.

See Mama Lion in the Animals exhibit at https://www.lightspacetime.com/animals-2016-art-exhibition-special-merit-kr-thru-z/.

You can also see a slide presentation of the show at YouTube (Mama Lion is at 10:30).

Light Space & Time encourages entries of all artistic media, but few textile works are shown among the many painted or drawn entries. I can only guess that this is because few fiber artists enter their work. So Fiber Artists, please enter! Light Space & Time posts a new show every month AND the site provides a lot of information for artists who want to show their work to its best advantage.

Afternoon: Flower and Button Arranging

June 1st, 2016

step by step TextileFusion wall hanging, Afternoon

The blue and orange Czech Festival Flowers (from Crochet Garden) made me think of hollyhocks and other tall flower stalks. For ideas on how to arrange with tall flowers, I typed “tall flower arrangements” into Google Images. My screen was filled with interesting, beautiful examples.

My favorite type of arrangement was where the tall flower stalks were surrounded at the top of the vase by a ring of different flowers. It was like they had a collar of smaller flowers.

Once all the flowers were crocheted and blocked, I tried several arrangements, photographing each one, like the one at right. I chose the best arrangement and started sewing flowers in place. Even then, I continued to fiddle with leaf placement and filler flowers.

step by step TextileFusion wall hanging, Afternoon

Then there was the matter of buttons. Once again I photographed different button placements so I could compare and choose the best, which was the one at left. I was very pleased with the black button centers on the yellow flowers (“Aster-oid” from Crochet Bouquet).

My personal rule for this wall hanging was “no pink.” But I couldn’t resist sprinkling my dayglow pink buttons across the flower arrangement. They looked so wonderful, so delicious, so mouth-watering (as my mom would say), the no-pink rule evaporated.

TextileFusion wall hanging, Afternoon, detail

Afternoon was finished in time to hang at the Town & Country Quilt Guild’s exhibit at the Cross Timbers Fine Arts Council (Stephenville, TX) in the final months of 2015 and in the TextileFusion exhibit at the International Quilt Festival (Chicago, IL) in April 2016. It still needs a couple of tweaks, but there’s time for that later.

TextileFusion wall hanging, Afternoon

Afternoon: Vase and Teacup

May 31st, 2016

step by step TextileFusion wall hanging, Afternoon

I created a rough draft of the design for Afternoon using Adobe Photoshop Elements. After saving it as a pdf, I used the “poster” option to make a full-sized print. Well, actually, the poster was sixteen 8 1/2 x 11″ sheets, which I had to trim and tape together.

First I cut out various parts of the poster to act as place holders while I was piecing the background (see last post). When the background was done, I cut out the vase and teacup to use as patterns.

I cut the cup further, into saucer, outside cup, and inside cup pieces, and those pieces into pieces again. I arranged the pattern shapes onto knitted fabric so the direction of the stitches and the color variation would look like the shape of a cup with shadows. Quilters call this “fussy cutting,” because you carefully choose how to cut the patches of the quilt.

step by step TextileFusion wall hanging, Afternoon

After piecing these onto a foundation, I embroidered details and enhanced shadows.

step by step TextileFusion wall hanging, Afternoon

What is inside a vase? Stems and greenery. I started the vase by piecing together patches of green knitting.

step by step TextileFusion wall hanging, Afternoon

Layers of lace and tulle suggest shadows and the reflection of light. I embroidered the vase’s ribs and the intense reflections. Not exactly like the original, but close enough for art.

step by step TextileFusion wall hanging, Afternoon