Recycling and Yarn and a Fairy Tale

August 17th, 2015

You never know how things come around and go around, until you can look back. Recycling is totally about things coming around and going around, and here’s what I can tell you about that.

Crochet! magazine with recycling article, Autumn 2015

My family has been into recycling since I was a kid. We started by collecting aluminum cans and selling them for 10 cents a pound. My brothers and I got to split the money.

For a long time, I despaired about old, worn, torn clothing and household textiles. I hated to throw them away, but at some point I had to, because what else could I do? Then my brother Van and his wife Kathy discovered American Textile Recycling Services at a green building event. They told me about it and solved one of my life’s dilemmas.

Since then we’ve recycled lots of textiles with ATRS, including shoes, pillows, old toys, and even fabric scraps and trimmings from my knitting, crochet, and art-making.

And then, yarn made from recycled textiles came to my attention. You can read more about these yarns in the Autumn 2015 issue of Crochet! magazine. The article is “How Recycled Textiles Become New Yarn,” on pages 10-12.

Flax flowers crocheted with Berroco Remix yarn

To write the article, I spoke to Debra, a very friendly and informative person at ATRS. She mentioned the ATRS blog, Our Greener Tomorrow. Maybe I could write a post for the blog at at some point, she said.

I did, and here it is: Suzann Thompson Retells Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Flax”

The flowers are the Rounded Petals version of “Millefiori” from Crochet Bouquet: Easy Designs for Dozens of Flowers, crocheted with Berroco’s Remix® which is made from recycled post-industrial textiles.

Crochet a Book for Book Lover’s Day!

August 9th, 2015

Small Crocheted Book Tutorial

Book lovers, this is your special day! Holiday Insights, my go-to site for information on interesting holidays, doesn’t list a founder or group which sponsors Book Lover’s Day. In fact, some controversy exists about the true date of Book Lover’s Day—August 9th or first Saturday of November?

The answer doesn’t matter, because to me, every day is Book Lover’s Day. But I’m glad to have a reason to post a photo-tutorial for the “Little Square Book” on pages 120-121 of Cute Crochet World.

These photos and notes are to supplement the printed instructions.

The pages and covers of the Little Square Book are made with two rounds. In the second round, the corners have a lot of stitches in them. Working between the corners in Rnd 2, you hdc or dc in the next three sts. To do this, you must pull back the corner stitches to reveal the first of the three stitches in which you must place a hdc or dc.

Little Square Book crochet tutorial

When the pages are finished and blocked, stack them as follows: back cover wrong side up, 3 pages, right side up, front cover right side up.

Little Square Book crochet tutorial

To bind the pages and covers together, place a slip knot on you hook, and insert hook into ch-2 sp at corner of front cover, 3 pages, and back cover, yo (see Photo 2). Draw the yo through all the pages and through the loop on the hook.

Little Square Book crochet tutorial

Photo 3 shows the hook inserted into each cover and page, ready for the next stitch: insert hook in next dc of front cover, next hdc of each page, and next dc of back cover. Yo and complete a sl st, drawing the yarn far enough up to allow the pages to assume their natural thickness.

Little Square Book crochet tutorial

When you are finished with the binding, the book will look like the one in Photo 4.

Little Square Book crochet tutorial

Now it’s time to crochet the book’s spine. Place the first st into the ch2-sp of the front cover, shown by the yellow arrow at right. Sk the next sl st. Sc into each of the next 7 sl sts shown by the yellow lines. Finally, sc into the ch2-sp at the other end of the front cover. This row is worked only the stitches of the front cover, and the sl sts made when you bound the book.

Little Square Book crochet tutorial

Here is the first row of the book’s spine, finished.

Little Square Book crochet tutorial

The spine is 3 rows of crochet. Bend the spine around the end of the book, then sew in place to the back cover. Weave in ends.

Little Square Book crochet tutorial

Little Square Book crochet tutorial

This book is the perfect journal for the tiny writer. Decorate with beads or embroidery, write on tiny scraps of fabric and sew them to the pages. Enjoy Book Lover’s Day.

Little Square Book crochet tutorial

The Little Square Book, with its heart on its cover, visits with books by some of my favorite authors: Barbara G. Walker, Carl Jung, Terry Pratchett, and Erle Stanley Gardner, creator of Perry Mason.

Christmas in July: Make an Ornament from Crochet Garden’s Poinsettia!

July 31st, 2015

Wild poinsettia in bloom

The native poinsettias have been blooming this month, here in north central Texas, inspiring me to make a little Christmas in July!

Along with a few hints for crocheting the showier, everlasting Poinsettia in Crochet Garden: Bunches of Flowers, Leaves, and Other Delights, I’ll show you how I turned a crocheted poinsettia into a Christmas ornament.

For a very thorough Poinsettia photo-tutorial, please visit http://cache.lionbrand.com/faq/590.html

Crocheted Poinsettia Christmas Ornament

To make an ornament, you will need:

  • Crochet Garden: Bunches of Flowers, Leaves, and Other Delights, pages 91-93
  • Aunt Lydia’s No. 10 crochet cotton in your favorite red and green
  • US 4 (steel) (2mm) hook
  • 4″ square of felted wool, 1 each of green and red
  • Beads for flower center
  • Sewing needle, pins, sewing thread in green and red

I designed the Poinsettia to be realistic, so it isn’t symmetrical. That means we have to follow the instructions very carefully and avoid making assumptions. (Yes, me, I’m talking to myself.)

 Crocheted Poinsettia Christmas Ornament

When Rnd 2 is finished, you’ll see three small petals (marked with ‘s’ in photo 1). These are like the small petals in the hothouse poinsettias we can buy around Christmas time. The small petals are worked into the hdc sts. The other petals are worked into the ch-spaces. They are supposed to look like red sticks.

 Crocheted Poinsettia Christmas Ornament

Rnd 3 is worked around the red sticks of the previous round. First work up the side, placing stitches in the ch-2 space (yellow arrow at right), then the free loops of the chain (yellow dots on the right). Several stitches go into the ch-3 loop at the tip of the petal (pink arrow). Work down the other side of the petal into the stitches (yellow dots at left) and into the ch2-space (other yellow arrow).

 Crocheted Poinsettia Christmas Ornament

Photo 3 shows a completed Rnd 3. Every two leaves have a ch-1 space between them. You will crochet into this in the next rnd.

 Crocheted Poinsettia Christmas Ornament

For Rnd 4, fold the petals out of the way to the front. Sometimes you will ch 3 behind a petal (yellow arrow in Photo 4). Then you’ll anchor the next petal in the ch-1 space between petals.

Rnd 5 finishes the petals in the outer round. For the ornament, you don’t need to leave a long sewing length of red thread. The leaf is crocheted separately and sewn on.

 Crocheted Poinsettia Christmas Ornament

To block the cotton poinsettia, I held it under the running tap, then stretched and pinned each petal to the ironing board, and let dry (photo 5).

 Crocheted Poinsettia Christmas Ornament

To make the ornament, pin the poinsettia to green felt, leaving at least a 1/4-inch overlap around the flower.

 Crocheted Poinsettia Christmas Ornament

The yellow marks in Photo 7 show how to sew the flower to the felt: sew invisibly (matching sewing thread helps) around the outside first. Gently sew down the sides of the top petals. Take one stitch in the tip of each small petal.

Add beads or other decoration to the center of the flower.

 Crocheted Poinsettia Christmas Ornament

Cut excess felt away, leaving about 1/4 inch showing around the edges of the flower. Start by leaving too much felt showing. Cut away tiny slivers of felt until the border around the flower looks good.

 Crocheted Poinsettia Christmas Ornament

This is how the ornament looks from the back. Ew, messy! But don’t worry. Use this piece as a pattern to cut a piece red felt. Now, go to “How to Make an Ornament Hanging Loop from Embroidery Floss or Crochet Cotton,” and follow directions for making a hanging loop.

Determine the top of your ornament and sew the hanging loop to the wrong side, with the loop emerging beyond the top edge.

 Crocheted Poinsettia Christmas Ornament

Pin or hold green and red felt together, with red in back to hide all those stitches and the end of the hanging loop. With No. 10 crochet cotton, sew the layers together with a whip stitch or a buttonhole stitch (my favorite).

 Crocheted Poinsettia Christmas Ornament

 Crocheted Poinsettia Christmas Ornament

The oak trees around here look like they’re celebrating Christmas in July, too. See their bright, round ornaments? Oh. Never mind. They are oak galls.

A Good Day for Mail

July 27th, 2015

The box on the front porch was from Sterling Publishing. Probably copies of Cute Crochet World in German. I was expecting them at some point. But there was more!

Crochet books in Russian and German

The Russian Crochet Bouquet was a total and happy surprise! Long ago, I took a semester of Russian, but the only thing I remember is pronounced “lyoo-blyoo”–“I love you.” I certainly love crocheters, whatever language they speak!

Happy National Ice Cream Day!

July 19th, 2015

I hope you’re enjoying National Ice Cream Day! Here are some holiday-appropriate treats to crochet from Cute Crochet World. Enjoy!

Crocheted Ice Cream Cone

Crocheted Ice Cream Cone

Crocheted Ice Cream Cone

Thank You, Lion Brand!

July 13th, 2015

Mama Lion knitted, quilted wall hanging

This is Mama Lion, one of the baker’s dozen of art quilts in my TextileFusion exhibit at the Quilt! Knit! Stitch! show in Portland, Oregon, next month.

Mama Lion was made specifically to show my appreciation of Lion Brand Yarns, the sponsor of the exhibit.

In the early days of my design career in the 1990s, Lion Brand purchased crocheted and knitted designs from me. More recently, Lion Brand Yarn Studio in New York displayed my art quilt, Passionate Heart. I have also had the privilege of signing books and giving talks at the Studio.

I am pleased and honored that Lion Brand Yarns supports my textile art. Thank you again, Lion Brand!

Shop, See Art, Learn at Quilt! Knit! Stitch!

July 12th, 2015

Double Bullion crochet workshop

The Quilt! Knit! Stitch! show in Portland OR next month is going to be great fun! I’m looking forward to taking a folk embroidery workshop and shopping at the market.

In addition to lots of three- and six-hour workshops and the retail market, the event includes exhibits of textile artworks. My own TextileFusion exhibit–knitted, embellished quilts–will make its national debut there. Yay!

I’m the crochet teacher, offering these workshops:

  • Full of Bullion (Stitch, That Is). The double bullion picot petal flower above is one of our samples for this class.
  • Pretty Picot-rama
  • What to do with Grandmother’s Doilies
  • Crochet Charm Lace

Please go to www.quilts.com for more information and to register.

Hints for Crocheting “Picot Mexico”

July 6th, 2015

Crocheted Picot Mexico Flower Tutorial

The colorful Picot Mexico flower looks happy and joyful to me, with its vibrant colors. It is on pages 102-103 of Crochet Garden: Bunches of Flowers, Leaves, and Other Delights. You can also make Picot Mexico in one color of yarn.

First a correction to the book: Rnd 2 of the Small Flower (center column on page 103) refers twice to a “ch-3 sp.” It should read “ch-2 sp.”

And now, some hints for making Picot Mexico successfully. The sample is the Small Flower. but the hints apply to the Large Flower as well.

Crocheted Picot Mexico Flower Tutorial

To begin rnds 3 and 4, the instructions tell you to “join with *(BPdc around next dc…” This is almost the same as joining with a regular dc. Place a slip knot on your hook. Yarn over hook, holding the slip knot in place so the yo won’t twist away. (Photo 1)

Crocheted Picot Mexico Flower Tutorial

For a Back Post dc, still holding the slip knot in place, insert hook from the back to the front of your work, between two dc-sts of the previous rnd. (Photo 2)

Crocheted Picot Mexico Flower Tutorial

Passing hook in front of the next dc, insert hook to back again around that dc. (Photo 3)

Crocheted Picot Mexico Flower Tutorial

Draw up a loop around the post of the previous rnd’s dc. If you’ve successfully held the slip knot in place, you’ll have 3 loops on the hook. Finish as you would finish any dc. (Photo 4) If the yo has twisted away, you may be able to get it back by twisting the slip knot around the hook.

Crocheted Picot Mexico Flower Tutorial

In Rnds 3 and 4, increase by placing two BPdc-sts around one dc-post. Photo 5 shows the wrong side of the work, where the first two “BPdc around next dc and sl st-picot” are complete. The white arrow points to the next BPdc, which is the first of two around the same post.

Crocheted Picot Mexico Flower Tutorial

The increase is complete in Photo 6. The white arrow shows the first BPdc around the post, and the pink arrow shows the second BPdc around the same post.

Crocheted Picot Mexico Flower Tutorial

A friend on Ravelry (www.ravelry.com) asked for a photo of the back of a flower she was working on. That was such a good idea! So here’s what the small Picot Mexico looks like from the back (Photo 7).


Tips for Making Picot Mexico with One Color

  • Don’t fasten off after Rnd 1. Instead, as you begin Rnd 2, ch 3 to replace the first dc of the rnd. At the end of Rnd 2, sl st in the 3rd ch of the ch 3 at the beg of the rnd.
  • You’ll still have to fasten off the yarn after Rnds 2 and 3, so you can get a fresh start with the BPdc on the next round.
  • Don’t fasten off after Rnd 5. You have already sl stitched into the first sc of Rnd 5, so that counts as the first sl st of Rnd 6. Ch 3 and tr in the same st as the sl st. Continue Rnd 6 as written.

Crocheted Picot Mexico Flower Tutorial

National Take Your Dox to Work Day

June 26th, 2015

Today is really National Take Your Dog to Work Day, according to the completely fun website Holiday Insights.

But if you don’t have a doggie of your own, or you truly cannot take pets to work, here’s a sweet doxie for you to crochet and tuck into your pocket or handbag. No dogfood necessary. No walking, only blocking (and you only have to block once).

The pattern is on pages 40-41 of Cute Crochet World: A Little Dictionary of Crochet Critters, Folks, Food & More.

Our word for a certain kind of sausage, wiener, comes from Austria. In German, the city Vienna is Wien (pronounced “VEEN”). So in Germany, a sausage from Vienna is a Wiener. I’m telling you this, because I know how to spell wiener. Just read the book, and you’ll know.

Millefiori from Crochet Bouquet Explained

June 25th, 2015

Crocheted Millefiori Motifs

“Millefiori” on pages 25-26 of Crochet Bouquet: Easy Designs for Dozens of Flowers offers small flowers in five different petal shapes. Four of the petal styles are joined with a technique that gives an attractive and neat finish to warm the cockles of your crochet heart.

“Rounded Petals” is shown in the photos. In the book, patterns for “Pointy Petals,” “Rounded Petals,” “Baby Stars,” and “Heart-Shape Petals” should refer you to page 15 for finishing instructions.

Here’s how joining the petals works.

Crochet Millefiori Motif Tutorial

Following the instructions in Crochet Bouquet, crochet four or five petals in the shape of your choice (Photo A). When you’re done with the last sl st, cut the yarn, and pull the yarn straight up out of the last sl st.

The petals are numbered to keep track of them more easily.

Crochet Millefiori Motif Tutorial

Thread the final yarn end into a tapestry needle. Arrange the petals face-up. Beginning with petal 1, skim the needle under the visible loops of the first ch st of the petal and the final sl st of the petal as in Photo B.

When I say visible loops, I mean the ones you see as you look at right side of the petal. They are just one loop of the chain plus one loop of the sl st.

Crochet Millefiori Motif Tutorial

In Photo C, I have skimmed the needle under the first and last loops of petals 1, 2, and 3.

Crochet Millefiori Motif Tutorial

I pulled the yarn through the first three petals, and in Photo D, I’m skimming it under the loops of petals 4 and 5.

Crochet Millefiori Motif Tutorial

Tighten the yarn end to draw the petals together. Once again, skim the needle under the first loop of petal 1 as shown in Photo E.

Crochet Millefiori Motif Tutorial

Take the needle through the base of petal 1, from front (right side) to back (wrong side).

Crochet Millefiori Motif Tutorial

Tighten the yarn end once more, tack to secure the yarn, and weave in the end (Photo G).

Crochet Millefiori Motif Tutorial

If you haven’t already done so, weave in the end at the start of the flower. Take a moment to stretch the petals from side to side before blocking.

These are truly quick and easy flowers.

Crocheted Millefiori Motifs