Posts Tagged ‘knitting’

Arranging Flowers for Winterling

Monday, March 27th, 2017

I had to try many different flower arrangements before finding my favorite for Winterling. It was fun! Here are a few:

 TextileFusion wall hanging, Winterling, by Suzann Thompson  TextileFusion wall hanging, Winterling, by Suzann Thompson

Hmmm. Yeah, the white flowers seem too startlingly bright. So for the next try, I took the daisies off and also the big sunflower, because I thought it was too heavy and large for the composition.

 TextileFusion wall hanging, Winterling, by Suzann Thompson TextileFusion wall hanging, Winterling, by Suzann Thompson

How about the one on the left?—it’s kind of minimal with a more controlled color selection. Given a choice, I usually go for fancy over minimal. The next one is alright.

 TextileFusion wall hanging, Winterling, by Suzann Thompson

Thinking the sunflower might not be too heavy after all, I added it back in. Yep, I think this is the one.

 TextileFusion wall hanging, Winterling, by Suzann Thompson

After pinning all the flowers and leaves in place, it was time to sit down and sew. And I mean sew for a long time.

Something kept bothering me about the Samarkand Sunflower which has a yellow center, then a white round and a band of periwinkle blue before the round of white petals. The blue band looked too plain and big. A few bright yellow seed beads took care of that problem.

 TextileFusion wall hanging, Winterling, by Suzann Thompson

After sewing the flowers on, I appliqued a crocheted picot vine in the borders. Each picot has a seed bead on it, which is stitched in place to keep the picot from curling. Buttons berries grow from the vine.

That does it for Winterling! Want to know where the flower patterns are from? Visit this post at the Curious and Crafty readers blog to find out.


Sunday, March 5th, 2017

step by step TextileFusion wall hanging, Winterling

We don’t normally go around leaving coffeepots on the bed, but this is a special coffeepot. It’s from the now-closed Winterling chinaware factory in Schwarzenbach an der Saale in northern Bavaria. My great-grandmother, Lina Schoedel, worked there. One of Winterling’s patterns was the blue and white Zwiebelmuster or onion pattern.

This coffeepot became a vase in my TextileFusion wall hanging, Winterling. But this isn’t the first time the Zwiebelmuster has inspired me: the Perspective Daisy and Curly Curlicues designs in Crochet Garden were inspired by the china, as well as the Leaves and Berries Spray (free pattern here).

step by step TextileFusion wall hanging, Winterling

So back to the coffeepot on the bed. I photographed this scene to help me see how light and shadow would play in my wall hanging. Sometimes I use photos to create patterns for my wall hangings. After manipulating the photos in Adobe Photoshop Elements, I print a full-sized final draft.

Being a fan of color contrast, I chose orange for the background to the blue and white pattern of the coffeepot/vase. I sorted orange yarns into light, medium light, medium, medium dark, and dark qualities, and set to work knitting orange yardage on my Ultimate Sweater machine.

After blocking and stabilizing with fusible interfacing, the knitted yardage was smooth and even.

step by step TextileFusion wall hanging, Winterling

It was time to cut up the knitting! For the curtains and vase, I used my paper pattern to cut pieces to the correct size and shape. For everything else, I cut patches of knitting freehand and fitted them together to form areas of light and shadow. I pinned the patches in place and sewed them to a foundation fabric which wouldn’t be visible in the finished piece.

step by step TextileFusion wall hanging, Winterling

I couldn’t wait to try some flower arrangements. At the International Quilt Festival in Chicago, Spring 2016, participants in my Open Studios session arranged flowers. My first idea was to use blue, violet, and yellow flowers as a contrast to the orange. They soon convinced me that more colors were better.

step by step TextileFusion wall hanging, Winterling step by step TextileFusion wall hanging, Winterling

If you’re thinking the vase in these pictures looks funny, you’re right. It’s because I was using my paper pattern as a place holder. But before finalizing the flower arrangement, I needed to create the vase with knitted fabric. That took a while.

Snowflake Wall Hanging

Friday, February 24th, 2017

step by step TextileFusion snowflake wall hanging

My sweet friend Hazel gave me a cardigan she bought years ago in Scotland. It was a pretty example of Fair Isle knitting, done with raglan sleeves. Thank you, Hazel!

The star pattern put me in a wintery, snowy frame of mind, and luckily there were just enough complete star motifs in the sweater for me to cut the long hexagons and form the points of the resulting snowflake.

Knitted scraps from previous wall hangings filled in the background. I sewed the patches together onto a foundation fabric, which won’t be visible in the finished piece.

step by step TextileFusion snowflake wall hanging

Next came quilting and binding, and I used fabrics from another generous person or people. The blue and white fabrics were in the estate of a lady from Germany. Her heirs wanted her fabrics to go to someone who would appreciate them.

I got to be that person! The link was the heirs’ former German teacher, who was also a friend of my mother’s. Thank you to those lovely people! I do appreciate their mother’s fabrics and laces and vintage handwork.

step by step TextileFusion snowflake wall hanging

As I’ve said many times, embellishment is my favorite part in the process of making wall hangings. There would be lots of button-sewing in my future.

step by step TextileFusion snowflake wall hanging

I was conflicted about which look to go for. I liked the subtle transparent and white buttons at the left of this photo and my daughter agreed. However, the bold blue buttons on the right seemed a better design choice.

Lately when in doubt, I go to Instagram. Many Instagram friends answered “Go for the bold!” Only one person agreed with Ella and me. I went with the majority.

Here are the blue buttons all sewn on.

step by step TextileFusion snowflake wall hanging

I’m still going to add transparent and white buttons around the flake. Looking forward to enjoying that zen zone of button sewing.

How Red Vases Began

Sunday, 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

Afternoon: Vase and Teacup

Tuesday, 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

Throwback Thursday–Vintage Crochet Cotton

Thursday, August 6th, 2015

vintage Bucilla crochet cotton

On the first day of the Campbell-Neumann sale in Austin, we would already be in line with dozens of like-minded shoppers, waiting for the doors to open. Misters Campbell and Neumann liquidated estates about four times a year, and any sale included items from three or more families.

Campbell-Neumann was where I found Barbara Walker’s A Treasury of Knitting Patterns for the first time. And it was where I bought a bag of cream-colored vintage Bucilla crochet thread and an old receipt.

1941 receipt from Mayer & Smith, Tyler, Texas
vintage Bucilla crochet cotton label

Mrs. W. H. Yarbrough bought two “cro cot” from Mayer & Schmidt (Tyler, Texas) for 70 cents on April 2, 1941. I can’t tell from the receipt if the cotton she bought was the cotton in the bag, because there were at least ten 800 yard hanks. Maybe she bought two more, because she was following instructions to “Purchase sufficient of this color at one time to complete your article, making sure that it is all of one dye lot number as the next dye lot of this color may differ slightly in shade.”

Some things don’t change.

Lampshade knitted with vintage crochet cotton

Nearly 45 years after Mrs. Yarbrough bought the cotton, I used a double strand to knit a lampshade (pattern from Barbara Walker). Now, another 30 years later, we still use this lamp and lampshade in our house.

I also knitted a 3/4 sleeve, v-shaped-neckline-in-the-back top, using the “Oriel” pattern. My dad took a picture of me wearing it in 1985.

I’ve changed since then, but the sweater is as cute as ever, so my daughter Eva wears it.

Oriel pattern knitted vintage cotton sweater

As Seen on TV!

Monday, February 3rd, 2014

Stranded Checks on the Ultimate Sweater Machine

Stranded checks on the knitting machine. Sounds good. Are they payable to me? Are they written for large amounts?

What? Oh. It seems the checks on the knitting machine are knitted checks with the unused yarn going across the wrong side of the work, i.e., stranded. It has been a really long time since I knitted on my Ultimate Sweater Machine, so maybe you can forgive me for the “stranded checks” mistake?

It really is fun to knit on the Ultimate Sweater Machine (as seen on TV!). Plain rows add up very fast. Stranded rows take longer, because they’re hand-manipulated. It helps to have a handy tool, like the one in the picture. It helps you push out every other pair of needles to make stranded checks.

I bought this tool years ago from Catherine Goodwin, who still sells handy knitting machine tools at her website:

Interweave Knitting Lab

Tuesday, May 15th, 2012

Suzann’s Color Composure workshop

When someone mentions the name “Interweave,” I think of fine publications about fiber and textiles.

It’s a prestigious name!

So you can imagine how very excited I am to be teaching for Interweave Knitting Lab New England, October 4-7, 2012 in Manchester, NH!

I’m leading several workshops that are full of information. Workshop participants will see lots of samples and practice the techniques as well.

  • Color, Texture, and Structure with the Elusive Slip Stitch (all day, October 4)
  • Color Composure (all day, October 5)
  • Knit Mosaic Patterns and Chart Your Own (morning, October 6)
  • Seamless Argyles in the Round (afternoon, October 6)

Suzann’s Elusive Slip Stitch workshop

I’m also giving a talk, illustrated with a colorful slide show, that shows how “TextileFusion” began and has developed over the last nearly 20 years:

  • TextileFusion: A Knitting of Art (evening, October 4)

For more information, please visit Interweave Knitting Lab New England at I hope to see you there!

Knitted Willow Pattern Plate

Sunday, August 10th, 2008

Eva found this shard of willow pattern china

We went out to check on some wild pig bones, which lie in a culvert down the dirt road from our house. We hoped they were bleached and clean enough for us to take home and add to Ella’s collection.

Too bad–they still had fur and other stuff attached to them. Recent rains have partially buried the rib cage and apparently washed the skull away. They are fossils in the making.

Undaunted, Miss Ella spotted the skull of a carnivore, maybe a fox or a small dog. We picked up pieces of armadillo shell, too. Ella wants to study bones someday. Preferably dinosaur bones.

Then Eva spotted a piece of broken china along the roadside. It was a piece of a willow pattern plate, of all things!

detail of Suzann's willow pattern wall hanging

It was a little like our life in England. We were always on the lookout for broken china, especially in places that the earth was disturbed, or where old houses were torn down, or even in our own back yard, where previous owners dumped and burned household trash. We collected boxes and boxes of broken china for making mosaics.

I was so inspired by the china we found in England, that I made a wall hanging about them. In addition to actual pieces of broken china, it has a knitted and embellished willow pattern plate on it. Read more about it here

“What is the story behind these broken pieces of china?” I asked myself. It became the theme for my wall hanging. You can see that the knitted plate is “broken” (the dark blue lines). You can look behind the flaps of the plate to find the story.

And all that started with a trip to look for bones! As Eva said, “Well, it was probably bone china.”

Updated 2016 to replace an old link.

Caught Up in Cables

Monday, August 28th, 2006

sample from Suzann's Cables, Bobbles, and Braids Workshop

“Cables, Bobbles, and Braids” is one of my workshops at the Taos Wool Festival (and, I hope, at other venues in 2007). The workshop samples are coming along nicely. I’m really proud of this one, because it shows how cable stitches are related.

Use your hand or a piece of paper to cover the top part of the sample. You will see two simple cables going up the swatch. They twist in different directions. Okay, now move your hand or the paper to cover the left half of the sample. You should see one cable going merrily up the length of the swatch.

Now look at the whole swatch. Do you see how the two simple cables join up to become a different kind of cable? Barbara Walker calls it the “Horseshoe Cable” or “Double Cable,” but it’s really two regular cables, side-by-side, twisting in opposite directions.

In my workshops, I try to show people to see relationships among stitch patterns in knitting. When you seek to develop a deeper understanding of knitting, you will be able to appreciate it in a new and satisfying way. Yes, you can enjoy knitting even more than you already do!

We have six hours in the Taos class, so we’re going beyond the basics. To begin, we’ll knit cable, bobble, and braid samples. Then we will design a cable sweater together. Finally, we’re going to design our own cable pattern stitch, either as a class or individually.

Does this intrigue you? Well, you still have a few days to sign up for workshops at Taos, without a late fee. Find out more here.