Posts Tagged ‘vintage’

Crochet Comets

Thursday, April 6th, 2017

step by step TextileFusion wall hanging, Crochet Comets, by Suzann Thompson

At our 2015 Dublin Rippers quilting retreat, my friend Donna challenged us. She had a black plastic bag full of fabric. We had to close our eyes and reach into the bag. We had until the next year’s retreat to make something from the fabric we drew from the bag. She said we could make anything we wanted. It didn’t have to be a quilt.

My fabric was a tiny print that gave an overall impression of a kind of pinkish gray. It reminded me of the night sky.

Weren’t there a couple of yellow and white doilies in my collection at home that might make good comets? I went home to my doily collection and, yes! There they were.

 step by step TextileFusion wall hanging, Crochet Comets, by Suzann Thompson

To get an idea of scale, I photographed the doilies and the gray fabric, plus some yellow fabrics that I planned to use for the comet tails. I used Adobe Photoshop Elements to digitally build the wall hanging, cutting and pasting the images of doilies and fabric.

I put several stars in the sky, just to give me an idea of how they would look. In the real wall hanging, I would use more stars and they would be a lot fancier. And I’d sew on a bunch of buttons as smaller stars.

Photoshop Elements has a click-and-drag tool for drawing boxes and circles and, hey—stars! I clicked on the star shape and dragged the first one. It was black, because that was the last color I had used. I changed the color, and the next stars were yellow.

 step by step TextileFusion wall hanging, Crochet Comets, by Suzann Thompson

The sketch was pretty rough, but it served its purpose. I could tell that the quilt would have to be about five feet wide to give the doily comets and their tails enough room. The horizon and a few houses gave me an idea of proportions between sky and earth.

I started laying out the quilt top, stopping only to buy a length of fabric to go between the dark earth and the lighter sky. As I worked and laid out the doilies and houses and moon, I got a feeling. It was definitely located in my chest. It was a feeling of inevitability that seemed to squeeze my heart.

The feeling was that the sketch might be rough, but it was perfect the way it was. Any attempt on my part to fancy things up, would not make the finished product look any better. As I worked I came to know this without a doubt.

So the quilt is as close to the sketch as possible. I did fancy up the comet tails with buttons and beads, but the sky is plain, except for the appliqued stars, including a black one.

 step by step TextileFusion wall hanging, Crochet Comets, by Suzann Thompson

The back is made from scraps, many of which were giveaways from my quilting friends. It is quilted in mostly parallel, curving lines. That took a long time.

This was my first mostly-fabric quilt with raw-edge applique and very simple piecing, and I learned a lot. It is also the biggest quilt I have made so far.

Crochet Comets is on display at the Rocky Mountain Quilt Museum in Golden, Colorado, until April 23, 2017. Starting July 1, it will be part of the Celebrate Doilies! exhibit, making its debut in Stephenville, Texas, at the Cross Timbers Fine Arts Council River North Gallery. (Details here.)

 step by step TextileFusion wall hanging, Crochet Comets, by Suzann Thompson

Sweet Home

Saturday, 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

Tuesday, 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

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

Crocheters, Knitters Doing Essential Work

Sunday, February 12th, 2012

Pennsylvania has a great online resource called the Access Pennsylvania Digital Repository, where you can find the actual pages of old newspapers, among other things. The best part is that you can search for specific words in these old newspapers. Amazing!

I was searching for biographical information about an old-time crochet designer, when this war-time ad appeared on the search list.

In the April 27, 1944 edition of The Ambler Gazette, National Union Radio Corporation of Lansdale, Pennsylvania, offered “Good Money for Girls and Women” for “Light, Clean, Easy, Interesting, and Essential Work.”

Here’s my favorite part:

Knitters and crocheters can assemble radio tubes

If you can sew, crochet or knit, you can learn to assemble radio tubes. It’s easy but a skill which will always be valuable to you. The tubes you help us make may save the life of some boy you know who has gone to war.

Employers of today should take notice! Knitting, crocheting, and sewing are skills that prepare people to save lives.

Quilt Fest Fun

Friday, December 30th, 2011

When was the last time I was able to sit at my desk long enough to write a blog post? Hmmm, looks like it was late November.

We’ve done a lot since then! We did our usual December things, like school parties, a quilting ladies’ party, a band concert, and preparing for Christmas. And we also caulked and painted the inside of an entire house, organized lots of repairs and improvements on it, and filled it with furniture and other things one needs to live there. Unfortunately, it wasn’t our new earthen house, but it looks great anyway and it deserves its very own blog post.

Rag Sky Art Studio fabric millefiori earrings

So here I sit at my desk, finally, and what do I see, but a pair of lovely earrings I bought at the Quilt Festival.

Meg Hannan of Rag Sky Art Studio in Seattle made them with fiber millefiori. It’s the same idea as glass or polymer clay millefiori. For her earrings and pendants, she makes a roll of different color fabrics, fiber, and beads, soaked with liquid glue. When glue sets, she cuts the roll in cross-section to reveal designs that look like tiny, colorful fantasy worlds.

I’m planning a pinkish and salmon-colored sweater that will look great with these earrings.

Dusty’s Antique Linens and Buttons had baskets and baskets of vintage buttons that would have taken two hours to look at properly. For some reason the orange button collection beckoned—possibly because I’m planning a sweater in orange with teal, green, and other rich colors. These swirly fabulosities were cabochons from the 1970s or so, which were converted into shank buttons.

buttons from Dusty’s booth at 2010 Knit & Crochet Show

I have a sweater of moss greens on the drawing board as well. Thank goodness I already have a great selection of green Gail Hughes buttons and buttons from a previous visit to Dusty’s to choose from.

Looks like a busy knitting year ahead!

Old Crochet Book at Comanche Museum

Monday, February 16th, 2009

Royal Society Cordichet crochet book

The Comanche County Historical Museum (Comanche, Texas) is open to the public for only a few hours a week: Saturday afternoons from 2:00 to 4:00, Thursday afternoons 2:00 to 5:00, or by appointment. If you’re near, you should go. It is a lovely local museum, with old handwork, machines, rocks and bones, dolls, photos, uniforms, and all sorts of things that give you a glimpse into the history of the community.

It even has an old surrey with a fringe on top. Believe it or not, kids are allowed to sit in it!

My eye was drawn to an old book called Tatting and Crochet Lessons, published in 1915, apparently by a thread company that manufactured Royal Society Cordichet—”The Perfect Crochet Cotton.”

“May I take some pictures of this book?” I asked. “You bet!” the docents said. That’s the beauty of a small local museum—the people in charge are usually right there.

crocheted hair receiver and hat pin, Royal Society book

What a difference a century makes in what kinds of things we crochet! For example, the book offers patterns for a crocheted candlestick cover and a candle-shade cover. My favorites were these two: a hair receiver and a hatpin holder.

Irish Crochet Collar in Royal Society book

“Why would you want to save your hair?” asked my daughter. I knew that ladies used pads of their own hair to lift their hair-dos. Also, people used to make hair jewelry, as sentimental gifts or memorial pieces. “Ewww!” my daughter said.

Do you know any other old-time uses for saved hair?

Royal Society crochet book, the end

In contrast, this collar would be fine to wear today. It was presented sideways in the book, just like you see it here. The publishers probably thought the readers, having read that it was a collar, were intelligent enough to turn the book to see what the collar would look like around the neck of a garment. You might be surprised to know how much thought goes into modern publications to spare us having to use our imaginations.

I’m glad the people at the museum thought an old crochet book was important enough to keep.