Archive for the ‘Knitting’ Category

Celebrate Doilies Opening Reception Today

Saturday, July 22nd, 2017

Doily yarn bombs at Celebrate Doilies by Suzann Thompson

We’re celebrating Celebrate Doilies today, July 22, with an opening reception from noon to 2 p.m. at the Cross Timbers Fine Arts Council, 204 River North Boulevard, in Stephenville, Texas.

Just look for the big doilies on the front of the building. The one on the left is made from macramé cord from my mom’s stash. Thank you, Mom!

Suzann Thompson with baling twine doily

The doily on the right is from my dad’s stash of baling twine. Thank you, Dad!

A friend saw this photo of me with the baling twine doily and wrote, “You look so tiny.” That was sweet, and it gives you an idea of the relative size of this doily.

Once inside the gallery, turn to the right to find the Doily Panel, made by participants in a workshop at my studio on July 8–Anna, Ella, Janetta, Royce, and me.

Doily covered panel at Celebrate Doilies by Suzann Thompson

And there’s more—doily heritage, doily art quilts, and doily poetry. Come and see for yourself!

Consulting the Experts on Color

Tuesday, April 18th, 2017

This is part 3 of my article about yellow that missed being published in 2006 when a magazine went out of business. The article has been updated.

It’s not something we generally think about much if at all, but most of us see the work of color experts every single day. Fashion, food, and craft magazines, advertisements, variegated yarns, and print fabrics are created for maximum appeal. Creators want you to buy them, so they make them beautiful.

For the price of old magazines and yarn or fabric already in our collections, we can consult their color expertise.

For my study of yellow, I gathered magazines that were destined for the recycling bin. When I saw attractive photos and ads with yellow in them, I tore them out.

Yellow, blue, turquoise collage

I ended up with a lot of pages that featured yellow, turquoise, and blue. That summery combination reminds me of swimming pools and sunny beaches with turquoise waters.

Maybe it wasn’t strictly necessary, but it was fun to make this collage…

…and these swatches.

Yellow, blue, turquoise swatches

Intarsia cables are kind of a pain, but they look so nice…

Intarsia knitted cables

As yarn lovers, we’re very familiar with variegated or multicolor yarns. Yarn manufacturers consult experts, predict fashions, and they pick the colors they think will appeal to the most consumers. The same goes for fabric manufacturers.

Go ahead—borrow their expertise!

yellow, pink, blue knitted swatch

Lion Brand’s Lion Ribbon (probably discontinued now) combines yellow with vibrant pink and blue. Small amounts of green, orange, and violet appear between the major colors. I tried to use similar proportions of solid colors in my knitted sample.

The pattern is Barbara Walker’s “String of Pearls,” most likely from her Second Treasury of Knitting Patterns.

Next time: “A Suffusion of Yellow” (Thank you, Douglas Adams.)

Yellow Around the House

Sunday, April 16th, 2017

Still working through the unpublished article about the color yellow, this is part 2. The previous post has a list of basic steps for studying a color.

Izzy the cat with fabric and a margarine tub

Awww, Izzy. She was a pretty and sweet cat!

Like many animals we’ve known, she knew how to present herself to her best advantage. The Holstein-patterned fuzzy fabric matched her perfectly and made us wonder “Is it a cat? Is it a cow?” Meow!

The yellow margarine tub happened to be nearby, adding a pop of color to the mysterious scene.

Yellow with black traditionally means danger or caution, in nature and in human environments. Think of bees and some wasps, with their yellow and black abdomens; think of yellow and black striped road signs that alert drivers to bridges or odd intersections.

Yellow, black, and white seed stitch knitted scarf

Yellow and black can be a jarring combination, but I think adding white lifts it from the caution zone into a happy place.

So when I saw Lion Brand’s black and white FunFetti (now discontinued, I’m sad to say), I didn’t even make a study swatch. I combined it with yellow Wool-Ease to make this scarf. It was my first yellow triumph, thanks to Izzy the cat.

Bluebonnets, Winecups, Engleman's Daisies

Around our house, we had wildflowers. In this bouquet we have Texas Bluebonnets, which you probably recognize as lupines; Winecups, which look like brilliant Easter eggs hiding in the grass; and profusely yellow Engleman’s Daisies. They form one of our spring’s most delicious color combinations.

The bouquet inspired me. I wanted to knit the blue, magenta, and yellow.

But wait! Let’s go back to the basic steps above and answer the questions:

What other colors are near the study color (yellow)?

In the garden, I saw blue and magenta near the yellows, but also green.

Are the nearby colors lighter, darker, or similar in tone to your color?

The magenta is darker than the yellow, but they seem to have the same saturation. They’re brilliant. The blue and greens seem paler and recede from the brilliance of the yellow.

Do you see shadows or highlights that enhance the study color?

There are some shadows in the greenery, but to me they don’t enhance the yellow.

What are the proportions of the various colors?

In the bouquet, the proportions of yellow, magenta, blue, and green are roughly the same.

intarsia sample of wildflower colors

Instead of using a pattern with rigidly spaced repeats, I went for randomly colored intarsia squares. I love this sample!

Really, it’s one of my favorite samples and I have wanted to expand this idea into a project for a while—I knitted the sample in 2006. But what would I make?

Within the past year, I think I have settled on a project.

Poet Sandi Horton (read one of her poems here) has written several pieces for my Celebrate Doilies exhibit. She sent me a few as inspiration for a wall hanging. Her poem “Texas Hillside” describes these flowers almost exactly, and someday I’ll make a randomly-colored intarsia check wall hanging about it.

Next time: Consult the Experts.

Studying Yellow

Friday, April 14th, 2017

This article was written for a magazine that went out of print before publishing it. It seemed a shame to keep it to myself, so here it is, and I hope you enjoy it.

Yellow crochet, the start of a doily

Sunshine, cowardly, lemon, journalism: yellow is many things. I was surprised learn that yellow is also “difficult.”

A friend took a creative color workshop with a well-known knitting instructor. Each student chose one color to study for the day. “But don’t pick yellow,” said the instructor. “It’s difficult.”

I scoffed at this, but to my amazement, I later heard the same pronouncement at an international quilt show.

Well, I say if a color is allegedly difficult, working with it is the only way to learn to use it well.

So let’s take a look at yellow together, and then you can use these methods to study any color you may find difficult. The best part is, no color wheels are necessary.

Basic Steps

Decide which specific color you want to study.

Yellow ranges from pale creams (yellow + white) to rich olive shades (yellow + black). Yellow school-buses are really orange-yellow, while fluorescent yellows have greenish overtones. Given the large variety of yellow, I concentrated specifically on brilliant yellows.

Observe your color in different surroundings.

Look for your color in nature, in human environments, in magazines, quilts, your own home, photos, museums, and books. At this stage, the goal is to gather lots of information about the color, and avoid judging the color combinations you see.

Answer these questions about the color and its surroundings.

  • What other colors are near the study color?
  • Are the nearby colors lighter, darker, or similar in tone to your color?
  • Do you see shadows or highlights that enhance the study color?
  • What are the proportions of the various colors?

Answer the questions in words rather than just taking a visual impression in your brain. Writing answers on paper may help you focus on words, rather than just relying on a mental snapshot.


Make sample swatches.

Knit or crochet samples with the color combinations you observed. This is your chance to try out some interesting stitch patterns. I still use Barbara G. Walker’s treasuries of knitting patterns. For crochet, my favorite is Harmony Guide to Crocheting Techniques and Stitches, by Debra Mountford, editor (1992).


Yellow in Nature

Yellow wildflowers along a caliche road

We have lots of yellow out here in rural Texas, and so I took some photos for this study. Here’s a picture of a county roadside near our house.

I wrote answers to the questions listed above:

The lemon and orange-yellow flowers are surrounded by deep yellow green and paler dusty green leaves; also light brownish gray dried leaves. The caliche road and the earth are light beige with pink undertones, but very bright. Flower centers and shadows are dark. Shadows aren’t exactly black. The amount of yellow is small in comparison to the greens and browns.

Just so you know, you may not like how your samples turn out. I didn’t like this one.

Yellow flowers and caliche knitted sample

Going back to the original photo and my own words, I realized I didn’t include the deep shadows that added contrast to the scene. Here’s the next sample with the deep shadow color added.

Yellow flowers and caliche knitted sample

I didn’t like this one much either, but I have learned not to let this put me off. Making these samples was not a waste of time. I learned something about these colors together. They may be perfect for a wall hanging someday. They may look better in different proportions. They may look a lot better to me in a few years.

Yellow flowers and caliche knitted sample

But it was time to move on.

Like you see in this picture of nightshade berries and a grasshopper, yellow in nature is often seen with black, gray, and various shades of brown. Sometimes a tan or grayish bird has a surprising patch of yellow feathers.

Here are knitted samples of yellow with grays and tan.

Yellow knitted with grays and tan

They’re okay. I won’t be making a garment with these colors, probably. But the yellow and gray combination makes a pretty good wall hanging!

Yellow knitted with grays and tan

Next time: Yellow Around the House.

Crochet Flower Art

Monday, February 27th, 2017

 TextileFusion wall hanging, Winterling, by Suzann Thompson

It’s great to have a stash of ready-crocheted flowers, because you may need them for a wall hanging, like this one.

It’s called Winterling and I’ll soon be adding a link to Suzann’s TextileFusion so you can see how I made it. While we wait for that post, here’s a rundown of the crocheted flowers in Winterling.

Flower Number 1: In the summer of 2006, I pitched a book idea to Lark Crafts, a subsidiary of Sterling Publishing. That book idea became Crochet Bouquet: Easy Designs for Dozens of Flowers. Flower number 1, the buttony sunflower, was one of the sample flowers included in my proposal.

Crochet Bouquet and Crochet Garden readers will recognize all of these flowers:

From Crochet Bouquet:

2 These deep purple leaves and their antique gold partners are “Small One-Row Leaves” from pp. 120-121.

3 The yellow flowers with black button centers are “Small Petals Around,” p. 36.

4 “Circles within Circles,” pp. 22-23. Find a step-by-step photo-tutorial at http://www.textilefusion.com/bookblog/?p=450.

5 The medium sized “Primrose Layers,” pp. 90-91, with some hints and photos of an in-progress primrose at http://www.textilefusion.com/bookblog/?p=185.

6 You can make several versions of “Five Point,” pp. 85-86. This is Rnds 1-2 only. There’s a tutorial here: http://www.textilefusion.com/bookblog/?p=797.

From Crochet Garden:

7 Rafflesita, pp. 122-123. The step-by-step photo-tutorial at http://www.textilefusion.com/bookblog/?p=970 will help. The Rafflesita in the middle of the bouquet is an original flower from the book.

8 “Samarkand Sunflower,” in all its sizes, pp. 60-61. The yellow beads really brighten these flowers.

 TextileFusion wall hanging, Winterling, by Suzann Thompson

9 “Forget Me Not,” pp. 86-87. Tutorial at http://www.textilefusion.com/bookblog/?p=922.

10 “Twirl Center Rose,” pp. 116-117.

11 “Any Color Pinks,” bud and full flower, pp. 96-97. Bud and flower are designer originals.

12 “Anatolian King Flower,” pp. 104-105. The bright King Flower is a designer original.

13 “Russian Spoke Flower,” pp. 100-101, another original from the book. Learn how to do the Russian spoke stitch here: http://www.textilefusion.com/bookblog/?p=588.

14 “Turkestani Star,” p. 70, another designer original.

15 “Perspective Daisy,” pp. 56-57, inspired by the Winterling china factory’s Zwiebelmuster.

And finally, a motif I made for Crochet Garden, but it didn’t make it into the book:

16 “Leaf Spray with Berries,” which you can make from a free pattern.

Winterling will be among the doily-themed quilts at the Celebrate Doilies exhibition, opening July 1, 2017 at the Cross Timbers Fine Arts Council in Stephenville, TX. More information, please visit the exhibition schedule or the Doily Heritage Project page.

close up of vase in the TextileFusion wall hanging, Winterling, by Suzann Thompson

Red Vases with Crocheted Flowers

Saturday, August 6th, 2016

This is Red Vases, my latest crocheted flower wall hanging.

step by step TextileFusion wall hanging, Red Vases

How many flowers and leaves from Crochet Bouquet and Crochet Garden can you spot? Many are the samples that appeared in the books. I’m glad to finally find a place for them.

My friend Peggy suggested adding beads to the Bluebells from Crochet Garden. What a great idea!

step by step TextileFusion wall hanging, Red Vases

Read more about the making of Red Vases at Suzann’s TextileFusion, beginning, middle, and finished.

What are you doing with your crocheted flowers?

On the Map at the International Quilt Festival

Friday, November 6th, 2015

Knitted, embellished quilts at the International Quilt Festival, 2015

“I’m here with my sister, who quilts, but I knit!” exclaimed a smiling lady. She had wandered into my TextileFusion exhibit at the International Quilt Festival in Houston last week. All thirteen pieces in the exhibit were knitted and quilted, then embellished with crochet, embroidery, buttons, and beads.

Knitted, embellished quilts at the International Quilt Festival, 2015

Knitted, embellished quilts at the International Quilt Festival, 2015

Thanks to the exhibit’s sponsor, Lion Brand Yarns, knitters and crocheters felt they had found a home at the Festival.

Knitted, embellished quilts at the International Quilt Festival, 2015

I was able to stay with my exhibit and so I got to talk with friendly and interested people all through the show (with a couple of breaks for shopping). As we talked, I worked on a new wall hanging, which illustrated my spiel about knitted quilts. It was undoubtedly the only quilt in the enormous exhibit hall that people were allowed to touch.

Knitted, embellished quilts at the International Quilt Festival, 2015

To help me visualize the flower arrangement on the wall hanging, I photographed it with my phone. My work table was too high, so I put the quilt on the floor to take the photo.

A quilter walked by, and I’m afraid she suffered heart palpitations when she saw me place a quilt on the floor. Clueless at first, I told her what I was doing, explaining that I can get a much better perspective on the wall hanging from a photo than I can by looking at it straight-on with my own eyeballs.

When she realized it was my own quilt, the relief on her face was obvious. Oh, I get it! I’m sorry, dear lady.

Knitted, embellished quilts at the International Quilt Festival, 2015

In another exciting development at the Festival, one of my wall hangings sold! Mama Lion will be going home with a family that is active in the effort to conserve our world heritage of lions and other wild animals. (The orange circle says “Sold.”)

It’s great finally to be on the map! Literally.

Knitted, embellished quilts at the International Quilt Festival, 2015

Thank You, Lion Brand!

Monday, 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!

April 18th—Create a Piece of TextileFusion All Your Own!

Thursday, April 2nd, 2015

First I have to tell you this story. When Lark Books contracted with me in 2006 to write Crochet Bouquet, my editor sent me a stack of pictures of crocheted flowers from the internet. “Here’s some inspiration,” she said, more or less.

I looked through the pictures she sent, and saw my very own wall hanging–Shards 2: Sometimes, the one you see in the photo above! One of my mixed-media quilts had crossed over into the realm of inspiration. It was a good day!

And now, back to the present. Since I use lots of fiber techniques in my wall hangings, I call them “TextileFusion,” which combines knitting, crochet, quilting, and embellishment.

Join me on Saturday, April 18, 2015, to learn how the TextileFusion technique has developed over the years. Then make a small piece of TextileFusion of your very own!

The San Jose Museum of Quilts and Textiles (520 South First Street, San Jose, CA) will host the workshop from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on the 18th of this month.

Read more about the TextileFusion workshop and register soon at: https://secure.acceptiva.com/?cst=4c411e

San Jose Museum of Quilts and Textiles

Sign Up Soon for Taos Wool Festival Workshops in October

Monday, August 25th, 2014

Polymer clay buttons

The Taos Wool Festival is always the first full weekend of October, with workshops starting a couple of days ahead. This is a great time to be in the mountains of New Mexico. The autumn colors and crisp weather are just wonderful.

This year I’m offering three classes at Taos:

Polymer Clay Button Boutique, all day Friday, October 3. You’ll go home with lots of colorful, pretty buttons, ready to use. They’re machine washable and dryable.

See the blue and orange buttons in the lower right corner of the photo above? We’ll make those as a group project. So fun!

Mosaic knit saguaro cactus

How to Knit Mosaic Patterns and Design Your Own, Saturday afternoon, October 4. After this class, you’ll be able to knit any of Barbara Walker’s many mosaic patterns, and you can design your own! Read more about the workshop here.

This mosaic cactus motif is one of my earliest original mosaic designs. I still like it a lot!

Knit Cables, Bobbles, and Braids workshop

Cables, Bobbles, and Braids, Sunday morning, October 5. You’ll learn how to do these stunning knitting techniques, but more importantly, you’ll develop a deeper understanding of these textural wonders. You’ll go away ready to twist and shout!

Please sign up for classes before September 1, 2014, at www.taoswoolfestival.org/workshops.

This notice is also on my other blog, but with different pictures. Enjoy!