A Worthy Accomplishment

January 8th, 2017

A Worthy Accomplishment, crochet and quilt art, by Suzann Thompson

“Art imitates life,” people say. Recently, I saw art holding up a mirror to life, and the mirror reflected much more than I can usually see with the unaided eye.

At the movies we saw a preview of a boy who draws a monster into life, who frightens the bullies in the boy’s life. In our main feature, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, a sad, desperate, and powerless person inadvertently turned frustration into a powerful external force that destroyed buildings and killed people. This force manifested as a storm of destructive particles.

At home, we watched Star Trek Beyond, where the huge, fancy Starship Enterprise is taken down by a swarm of tiny spaceships, under the command of an unhappy former Starfleet officer.

Two takeaways for me: desperation can turn into a deadly force; lots of tiny things can take down a big thing. These two phenomena are happening in our world’s population right now.

Which brings me quite naturally, I think you will agree, to my latest wall hanging, A Worthy Accomplishment.

Our United States culture worships enormity. Large corporations, huge wealth and fame, amazing feats of technology are admired and given special treatment. In contrast, regular people who do regular thing, like raising children, cleaning, cooking, going to work every day and other essential but not very exciting or profitable things, are treated as insignificant.

I think we need a more balanced approach. It’s fine to admire amazing things, and we should also value and admire everyday work and achievement. We need to acknowledge the contribution of people who take care of all the everyday things in this country, because they are the foundation on which our society is built.

For my own part, I want to bring to your attention the contribution of many thousands of women (mostly) who took the time to crochet a doily to beautify their homes, or a pretty trim to make a pillowcase or coverlet more inviting.

I can guarantee you that many of these creators would say, “Oh that’s nothing, really. It’s just something I made.”

I say, “It is something, precisely because you made it.” It is something handmade, with love or curiosity and certainly with skill. It is something to be proud of, something beautiful, something worthy.

A Worthy Accomplishment, crochet and quilt art, by Suzann Thompson

Christmas-in-July Project Done!

December 9th, 2016

The beauty of starting this 16-week Christmas felt kit project in July was the flexibility in the schedule. When I decided to enter a juried show with a new quilt, I was able to take a few weeks off of making the wreath to make the quilt.

When the quilt was finished, I still had plenty of leeway to finish the wreath in time to decorate for the Christmas season. Hmmm. Will I make a habit of starting projects early?

This is how the last four weeks went:

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

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

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

These are the fourteen pieces that made up the Santa ornament. It seems like a lot, but you just work on one or two at a time and soon you have the piece done. The Santa took me about four and a half hours to complete.

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

Week sixteen. I sewed each ornament and toy onto the wreath base and added a hanging loop. Now the wreath is hanging up, and every time anyone opens and closes the door, the sequins sparkle beautifully!

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

When it was all done, I recycled the felt trimmings. I put them in a bag marked “SCRAPS” and dropped them into an American Textile Recycling Corporation collection bin. They take all kinds of used clothing and household textiles and of course, fabric scraps. To find a bin near you, please visit their website: www.atrscorp.com

Christmas wreath felt kit by Bucilla, recycling the scraps

This was so fun, I’m going to do it again next year! I hope you’ll join me to make your choice of Christmas in July project in 2017. Maybe you’ll choose a gift or a decoration to make—maybe something to sew or knit or crochet. We’ll have project planning sheets and lots of support.

If you’d like me to email you about it next summer, please send an email to knitandcrochetwithsuzann@outlook.com and type “Christmas in July 2017” on the subject line.

Christmas in July project 2017

Suzann’s Christmas in July project, 2017

Sweet Home

November 19th, 2016

Sweet Home, crochet and quilt art, by Suzann Thompson

It’s nice to have a relatively quick project to do, after a very time-consuming one. So…Sweet Home.

Normally I would write about it here, but since it there are so many motifs on it from Cute Crochet World, its story is over at my book blog, Curious and Crafty Readers. See you there!

Evolution of Minimalism

November 1st, 2016

Evolution of Minimalism, by Suzann Thompson

In the late 1990s, minimalism in home décor was all the rage in England—at least that’s what we read in the newspapers at the time. Minimalist homes were clean, cleaner, cleanest! They were calm, uncluttered. Any decoration not strictly necessary for function was not allowed.

Minimalism is not my style, because I like decoration and stuff within easy reach. But I can see the attraction. It’s so full of potential—lots of surfaces to fill with books, paper, pens, vases, coffee cups.

For all the functional trendiness of minimalism, I feel that human eyes crave variation and decoration. So here’s a wall hanging all about how we may enjoy the starkness of minimalism for a while, and what happens next. Its title is Evolution of Minimalism.

In the beginning, we have the most minimal nine-patch ever. Sewn with patches of the exact same plain fabric, it is totally uncluttered. It’s so calming, so clean, so… Evolution of Minimalism, by Suzann Thompson

…so, well, boring. Hey, could we vary the color a little? Just to give it some interest?Evolution of Minimalism, by Suzann Thompson

That helped. A contrasting color would perk it up even more. But don’t worry, we can hold on to our minimalist roots by using the original colors.Evolution of Minimalism, by Suzann Thompson

Oooo! That squiggly pattern in the middle is kind of fun. It might be even more interesting to have some texture.Evolution of Minimalism, by Suzann Thompson

Love that single button in the middle, and the mother-of-pearl button fabric! Very subtle, how the pearl button fabric is next to the ocean wave patterned fabric. Clever. If one button is good, four buttons are better. Evolution of Minimalism, by Suzann Thompson

The nine-patch is getting kind of old. Whoa—this log cabin block is perfect. Evolution of Minimalism, by Suzann Thompson

Do you sense a tipping point? The log cabin is turning into a log pentagon. Do I see some red? Woo hoo!Evolution of Minimalism, by Suzann Thompson

Colors and buttons and flowers are busting out all over! Evolution of Minimalism, by Suzann Thompson

This is great! Lots of color! Lots of pattern! Lots of texture! It’s wonderful! Evolution of Minimalism, by Suzann Thompson

Evolution of Minimalism, by Suzann Thompson Wow. All this stuff is wearing me out, making me tired. Let’s clean up all this clutter and get back to basics. We’re going back to the beginning. Evolution of Minimalism, by Suzann Thompson

And so the natural evolution of minimalism goes.

It’s all coded in the DNA.

Evolution of Minimalism, by Suzann Thompson

Threads of Texas Quilt Show 2016

October 12th, 2016

Threads of Texas Quilt Show 2016

The Town ‘n Country Quilt Guild’s biennial quilt show, Threads of Texas, is over for 2016. I imagine there are some members still recovering from organizing and staffing this wonderful exhibit.

My friend Peggy and I sold tickets for four hours. We met lots of people eager to see the quilts, shop for supplies and gifts, and have a little lunch.

Along with our friends Hazel and Donna from the weekly Dublin Rippers bee, we entered several quilts in the show. We laughingly considered changing our name temporarily to “The Ribbon Ladies,” because between us, we won a total of ten or eleven ribbons!

Afternoon won a blue ribbon (first place) in the category “Other Techniques—Small.” I posted in-progress photos of Afternoon earlier in this blog.

Threads of Texas Quilt Show 2016

You’ll also find some blog posts about Red Vases, which won second place in the same category. Same for Antelope Horns, coming in at third place.

I haven’t written about Crochet Comets yet (but I will!). It is my first quilt made from quilting fabric, and it’s embellished with doilies. Crochet Comets and Red Vases won merit ribbons for embellishment.

Threads of Texas Quilt Show 2016

Peggy has already planned what she’s going to sew for Threads of Texas 2018. I’m not sure what I’m going to enter, but I am sure looking forward to it!

Threads of Texas Quilt Show 2016

Felt Christmas Wreath Almost Finished

September 28th, 2016

The third four weeks of my twelve week Christmas in July project are done, and now I’m in the home stretch. Making the ornaments and toys to decorate the wreath is so fun. They turn out very cute and they always make me smile.

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

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

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

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

I have a few more ornaments to go, and then I’ll spend week sixteen putting it all together.

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

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).