Tag Archives | crochet

Finding Life Valance

Now that the Celebrate Doilies exhibit is up and running (details here), I’m taking a break to make other stuff. Yep, I can’t stop making.

We live in the country, and no one is close enough to peek into our windows. So since we moved into our house three and a half years ago, our windows have been bare. As much as I like the no-fuss nature of bare windows, they do look a little stark. And that is why I’ve been making valances.

recycled vintage doily valance

A lady from Germany lived in San Antonio and loved to sew. When she died, her children went to their former German language teacher, Mary El-Beheri, asking, “Do you know of someone who would use and value our mother’s sewing things?” My mother, also a German language teacher, was Mary’s friend. Mary asked her if I would like the German lady’s fabrics and books.

That is how I came to have the fabric and trim for our new red and white dining room valance. Thank you to those students, the children of the German lady, for so thoughtfully taking care of their mother’s possessions.

recycled vintage doily valance or curtain

I think these filet crochet triangles must have been sewn to a table runner or dresser scarf. The sewn edge was frayed, possibly when someone snipped out the stitching.

But that’s okay, because those frayed edges are hidden in the fabric top of the valance.

recycled vintage doily valance

I cut a square crocheted table mat in half and bound the cut edges inside the fabric top of these cute little curtains.

recycled vintage doily valance

Pineapple patterns are among the most popular and beloved of crochet motifs. The pretty pineapple triangles are part of a crocheted chair set—they were meant to cover the back of an upholstered armchair to protect it from hair oil.

You can find the vintage instructions for making the crocheted pineapple chair set at Today’s Treasure. They have lots of old patterns for sale.

More curtains to come—we have a lot of windows!

recycled vintage doily valance

Comments { 0 }

A Celebrate Doilies Interview at March On! Texas

I met writer and historian Kelly McMichael at a town hall meeting of our U.S. Representative last spring. It was a nice surprise to find out that Kelly is a textile artist, too!

Kelly offers a different spin on the Celebrate Doilies exhibition in this post at the March On! Texas blog.

press for Celebrate Doilies

Comments { 0 }

Crochet Bloggers Spread News of Celebrate Doilies!

Crochet Spot Celebrate Doilies blog post

I am very honored to have the Celebrate Doilies! exhibit featured in two well-known crochet blogs! Please follow the links and read new information and a behind-the-scenes look at Celebrate Doilies!

Rachel Choi hosts the popular Crochet Spot blog, where readers can find crochet patterns, news, and tutorials. “Taking a Chance on Doilies” is the name of the post about Celebrate Doilies! Chance comments and other coincidences figured strongly in the making of the exhibit.

* * * * *

Crochet Concupiscence Celebrate Doilies blog post

Kathryn Vercillo is the author of several books including Hook to Heal! (100 crochet exercises for health, growth, connection, inspiration and honoring your inner artist)–find a link to her book below. She studies and practices crochet and other crafts as therapy. Her blog is Crochet Concupiscence, where you’ll find Help Fiber Artist Suzann Thompson and Friends Celebrate Doilies.



Read lots more about the Celebrate Doilies! at my other blog, Curious and Crafty Readers.

Please contribute to the Celebrate Doilies Kickstarter campaign if you can.

Find exhibit dates, venues, and other details at www.textilefusion.com/exhibition-schedule.

Comments { 0 }

Free for Two Days Only! Crocheted Oak Leaf Pattern

Fiber artists Alyssa Arney and Liz Flynn (@thread.winners on Instagram) called for community donations of crocheted or knitted oak leaves for “Reveries,” an exhibit they are putting on this summer.

Well, I felt quite a connection there, since I’m also putting on an exhibit this summer (more here).

AND I had a few crocheted oak leaves in my stash of crocheted flowers and leaves. So I’m sending these. Most are “Gambel Oak” leaves from Crochet Garden.

crocheted oak leaves

Alyssa and Liz’s project motivated me to dust off a different oak leaf pattern and publish it. The red and green leaves below are now available in my shop on ravelry.com.

Click here to download my Oak Leaf pattern FREE only on May 9 and 10, 2017. After that, the price will be $1.00. (You can still click here to go to my pattern page on Ravelry).

crocheted oak leaf pattern

Alyssa and Liz are offering a free crocheted oak leaf pattern as well. Find the link at their Instagram account (@thread.winners).

I look forward to seeing their finished project!

Comments { 0 }

Consulting the Experts on Color

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.)

Comments { 0 }

Studying Yellow

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.

Comments { 0 }

Crochet Comets

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

Comments { 0 }

Arranging Flowers for Winterling

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

flower arrangement for TextileFusion wall hanging, Winterling, by Suzann Thompson flower arrangement for 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.

flower arrangement for TextileFusion wall hanging, Winterling, by Suzann Thompsonflower arrangement for 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.

flower arrangement for 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.

flower arrangement for 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.

flower arrangement for 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 to find out.

Comments { 0 }

Winterling, The Vase

 TextileFusion wall hanging, Winterling, by Suzann Thompson

The Zwiebelmuster chinaware design is full of flowers, leaves, stems, and curlicues. All of that can be crocheted, appliqued, beaded, and embroidered. So that’s what I did, and it took some time.

You know from reading the earlier post about the Winterling wall hanging, that I photographed a coffeepot as a model for the vase. I enlarged the photo to the size of the wall hanging and printed it. The coffeepot/vase became my pattern, which I consulted for size and shape as well as light, shadow, and the actual blue design.

 TextileFusion wall hanging, Winterling, by Suzann Thompson

For a project like this, I will cut out the paper shape and use it for a template. The photo above shows the paper template next to the fabric vase, which I’ve already pieced from knitted fabrics. The fabric vase is a little bigger than the paper, to give me room to fold under the raw edges.

 TextileFusion wall hanging, Winterling, by Suzann Thompson

Various shades of blue knitting created some highlight and shadow. But tulle or netting is the best for making shadows. More layers of tulle mean darker shadows, as you can see in the photo at right.

 TextileFusion wall hanging, Winterling, by Suzann Thompson

Here are the first few crocheted leaves and flowers, made with No. 10 crochet cotton. I crochet without instructions, measuring my foundation chain against the printed template. Sometimes I have to unravel and recrochet a piece several times, but eventually it turns out alright.

I try to get most of the pieces crocheted before sewing them in place. That’s because I have to pin, unpin, rearrange, and repin many times to get the flowers and leaves to look right.

 TextileFusion wall hanging, Winterling, by Suzann Thompson

Then it’s time to sew. And sew. And sew some more. One day in the middle of February, the weather was so nice and warm, I was able to sit outside with my coffee to do some sewing.

 TextileFusion wall hanging, Winterling, by Suzann Thompson

It’s just about finished here. Yay! After this, I folded under the raw edges and whip stitched them down before handsewing the vase to the wall hanging.

 TextileFusion wall hanging, Winterling, by Suzann Thompson

Comments { 0 }

Snowflake Wall Hanging

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.

Comments { 0 }