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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

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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

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Christmas-in-July Project Done!

The beauty of starting this 16-week Christmas felt kit project in July was the flexibility in the schedule. When I decided to enter a juried show with a new quilt, I was able to take a few weeks off of making the wreath to make the quilt.

When the quilt was finished, I still had plenty of leeway to finish the wreath in time to decorate for the Christmas season. Hmmm. Will I make a habit of starting projects early?

This is how the last four weeks went:

Week thirteen. Christmas wreath felt kit by Bucilla, one week at a time

Week fourteen. Christmas wreath felt kit by Bucilla, one week at a time

Week fifteen. Christmas wreath felt kit by Bucilla, one week at a time

These are the fourteen pieces that made up the Santa ornament. It seems like a lot, but you just work on one or two at a time and soon you have the piece done. The Santa took me about four and a half hours to complete.

Christmas wreath felt kit by Bucilla, one week at a time

Week sixteen. I sewed each ornament and toy onto the wreath base and added a hanging loop. Now the wreath is hanging up, and every time anyone opens and closes the door, the sequins sparkle beautifully!

Christmas wreath felt kit by Bucilla, one week at a time

When it was all done, I recycled the felt trimmings. I put them in a bag marked “SCRAPS” and dropped them into an American Textile Recycling Corporation collection bin. They take all kinds of used clothing and household textiles and of course, fabric scraps. To find a bin near you, please visit their website: www.atrscorp.com

Christmas wreath felt kit by Bucilla, recycling the scraps

This was so fun, I’m going to do it again next year! I hope you’ll join me to make your choice of Christmas in July project in 2017. Maybe you’ll choose a gift or a decoration to make—maybe something to sew or knit or crochet. We’ll have project planning sheets and lots of support.

If you’d like me to email you about it next summer, please send an email to knitandcrochetwithsuzann@outlook.com and type “Christmas in July 2017” on the subject line.

Christmas in July project 2017

Suzann’s Christmas in July project, 2017
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Sweet Home

Sweet Home, crochet and quilt art, by Suzann Thompson

I remember very well the sweetness and simplicity of childhood and the images from that time that are with me to this day. Children’s book illustrations and some idealized picture of home are strong in my memory. I think that’s where a lot of the designs for Cute Crochet World came from.

My current project is an exhibit called Celebrate Doilies! which will debut at the Cross Timbers Fine Arts Council Gallery in Stephenville, Texas, in July and August 2017. In addition to a lot of doily history (read more here), the exhibit will include my art quilts made with vintage crochet.

Sweet Home, crochet and quilt art, by Suzann Thompson

At first I couldn’t figure out how to incorporate this thread crocheted placemat into a quilt. My mind apparently mulled over this problem while I wasn’t paying attention. Some days later, my perception of the piece suddenly shifted from a placemat to picture frame. After that, it was easy to decide what picture to frame: a childlike picture of home.

Strip-piecing left over from a previous quilt seemed perfect to frame the frame. Luckily, I still had enough cut strips to fill the gaps.

Sweet Home, crochet and quilt art, by Suzann Thompson

Cute Crochet World came to my aid, with patterns for crocheting the “Cozy Home,” “Cherry Blossom” (I used green instead of pink), “Summer Sun” with clubby rays, and “Cutely Cloudy.” I made several trees and two suns, before finding the right combination of size and color.

Sweet Home, crochet and quilt art, by Suzann Thompson

When button time came around, I turned to family and friends for input on which buttons I should sew around the edge of the placemat: mother-of-pearl or blue?

My mom thought the house looked like it was on an island, the lace edges with blue underlay seemed like a beach, and the dark blue buttons were the deep blue sea. I liked this image very well.

The consensus from Instagram and Twitter was that the blue buttons looked better than white, but some friends said they thought a lighter blue might look best.

Sweet Home, crochet and quilt art, by Suzann Thompson

I posted the comparison of dark blue and lighter blue buttons. @franloveswool summarized my own feelings, saying, “This is trickier than I thought.” @fairetreasures said that the dark blue gave the piece great contrast, and the lighter blue looked nice because it picked up the colors of the house.

What to do? Mix light and dark? I tried that, but meh. Wait. Why just one round of buttons? Why not a round of lighter blue and a round of darker blue? Yes, that was the solution. Thank you, friends and family!

Sweet Home, crochet and quilt art, by Suzann Thompson

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Finally Finished Red Vases

Four a day flower sewing worked well for Firewheel Meadow, so I started with that regimen until a more urgent project distracted me.

step by step TextileFusion wall hanging, Red Vases

While appliqueing flowers (not my absolute favorite job in a wall hanging), I listened to The Three Body Problem by Cixin Liu. Listening helped me stay focused, because I really wanted to hear the next chapter and so I had to keep on sewing.

At last, all the flowers were sewn in place. My friend Peggy said, “Those bluebells need something. How about beads?” Again, a different perspective helped. I added the beads.

step by step TextileFusion wall hanging, Red Vases

The wall hanging rejected all but a few of my attempts to add buttons. A Gail Hughes green button nestled comfortably among leaves, a polymer clay button was a good flower center. But mostly, the buttons were too showy and they detracted from the flowers.

Okay, so… less showy buttons?

Yes!! I hid small tan buttons among the flowers, adding texture and interest, without drawing too much attention.

Red Vases is finished, and it will make its debut at the Town and Country Quilt Guild Show in October. Peggy said, “It will win a ribbon.” That would be nice!

step by step TextileFusion wall hanging, Red Vases

The crocheted flowers and leaves on Red Vases are from my books Crochet Bouquet and Crochet Garden. To purchase these books, please follow links on the sidebar to amazon.com.

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Arranging Flowers in Red Vases

When I’m arranging embellishments for a wall hanging, I like to get other peoples’ input. It helps me see things from a different perspective.

In the past, my daughters helped me out (and here, too). In April, participants in the International Quilt Festival (Chicago) Open Studios event arranged and rearranged flowers for Red Vases. We discussed the merits of different color combinations, flower shapes, and number of flowers.

Here are a few options we came up with:

step by step TextileFusion wall hanging, Red Vases step by step TextileFusion wall hanging, Red Vases step by step TextileFusion wall hanging, Red Vases

step by step TextileFusion wall hanging, Red Vases

Back at home, I consulted these photos while making the final arrangement for Red Vases, and this is it:

Wait! On second thought, this became the really, really final arrangement.

step by step TextileFusion wall hanging, Red Vases

Now to sew all those flowers in place.

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Afternoon: Vase and Teacup

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

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Open Studios at IQF-Chicago

I was happy this year to present three Open Studios sessions at the International Quilt Festival in Chicago. It’s great to talk to so many interested and enthusiastic people.

For “Quilting Sweater Knits” I hurried up and prepared two more minis in my Yellow Circle series.

 Open Studios—Quilting Sweater Knits  Open Studios—Quilting Sweater Knits

“Tropical Sunflower,” at left, was pieced and ready to quilt. For the one on the right, the pieces were pinned to the foundation but not yet sewn. I may name that one something like “Searchlight in a Blue Norther.”

 Open Studios—Quilting Sweater Knits

On the third yellow circle mini, closest to the viewer in this photo, I demonstrated how to piece knitted fabric onto a foundation.

 Open Studios—Flower Arranging for Quilters

On another day, we practiced “Flower Arranging for Quilters.” Two different groups of Open Studios participants came up with possibilities for my new wall hanging. I like this one a lot. I liked the other one a lot, too.

The wall hanging’s working title is “Blue Onion,” because the inspiration was my mother’s Zwiebelmuster or Onion Pattern china.

 Open Studios—Doilies in Your Quilts

Finally, I showed how to include doilies in quilts using several samples, including this new wall hanging, “Red Vases.”

Whew. That was a lot of prep. But it’s a good thing, because often the most difficult part of a project for me is starting it. True, I was going to start these projects eventually, but because of the Quilt Festival, they’re already begun.

Now all I have to do is finish them.

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Crochet while Waiting…and Waiting

 Garden Path Shawl in progress

Life and travel include a lot of waiting—at least for me they do.

Thank goodness for knitting and crochet, which makes the time fun and productive–like last Sunday, when I was in a long, long security checkpoint line at the airport in Chicago.

My pink shawl was packed in a carry-on bag, so I just pulled it out a little early.

Our line moved along, about four steps every minute or so. By the time I arrived at the head of the line, I had finished several rows.

Garden Path Shawl in progress

Here’s the pink shawl in progress on the plane.

 Garden Path Shawl in progress

Tuesday was my day for getting together with friends and sewing or crocheting. After taking my daughter to school, I had about an hour to work on my pink shawl and listen to the radio. This row of Russian Spoke Stitch* took a long time to finish, but I just worked and enjoyed listening.

I’m planning to publish the pattern for this shawl in the next month or so. That means it’s your turn to wait. You know what to do.

* Find a tutorial for the Russian Spoke Stitch or Double Bullion here. My book Crochet Garden: Bunches of Flowers, Leaves, and Other Delights (see sidebar) has two flowers that feature the Russian Spoke Stitch: “Russian Picot Daisy” on pages 76-77 and “Russian Spoke Flower” starting on page 100.

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Gingerbread Kids from Cute Crochet World–Hints and Ideas

Crocheted Gingerbread Kid Ornament Tutorial

Why in the world do we need another pattern for crocheted gingerbread people? Because I’m terrible at crocheting into the sides of rows. Read the whole story on this Flashback Friday on my other blog, Suzann’s TextileFusion.

The Gingerbread Kids of Cute Crochet World are worked in the round, so when you finish, you have an easy time adding icing trim. Here are step-by-step photos of the Gingerbread Kids in progress.

Complete written instructions for the Gingerbread Kids are on pages 80-82 of Cute Crochet World: A Little Dictionary of Crocheted Critters, Folks, Food & More.

Both Gingerbread Kids are made in two rounds of gingerbread and one round of icing. For clarity, the book’s instructions for each gingerbread round are divided into sections for arms, legs, and head. As you work, observe how the stitches look and where they are.

Crocheted Gingerbread Kid Ornament Tutorial

Here is the first arm, head, and second arm of Rnd 1, to the point after “sc in each of the next 4 ch.” The yellow marks show where to draw up lps for the next stitch—draw up two loops, yo, then draw up the third.

Crocheted Gingerbread Kid Ornament Tutorial

And here are the loops on the hook, ready for the last yo and pull through. This joins the arms and head.

Crocheted Gingerbread Kid Ornament Tutorial

Create the body- and leg-shaping by increasing or decreasing sts. When it’s done, Rnd 1 looks like a curled up stick figure.

Rnd 2 is worked in every single st, foundation ch, and ch-2 lp of Rnd 1. A helpful hint: after stitching the ends of the legs, head, and arms in the ch-2 lp, the instructions say to “skip the first sc” or “hdc.” That st is probably already obscured by the sts in the ch-2 lp.

Crocheted Gingerbread Kid Ornament Tutorial

At the last st of Rnd 2, cut the yarn and pull the final loop up, up, and out of the last st, as in the photo above.

Crocheted Gingerbread Kid Ornament Tutorial

Thread the yarn end into a tapestry needle, and skim the needle under the top two loops of the first st of the rnd, as in this photo. Take the needle back down into the last st of the round, tighten and adjust the new loop, weave in end. This is a needle-join or invisible join, which you can read more about here.

Crocheted Gingerbread Kid Ornament Tutorial

Start the round of icing trim by drawing up a loop with the icing color yarn. Sl st in each st around, making sts looser or tighter to fit the outline of the gingerbread.

Crocheted Gingerbread Kid Ornament Tutorial

When you’ve slip stitched around, cut yarn and draw the last loop completely out of the final st. Thread yarn end into tapestry needle.

Crocheted Gingerbread Kid Ornament Tutorial

Skim the needle under the two “legs” of the loop you drew up at the beginning of the round.

Crocheted Gingerbread Kid Ornament Tutorial

Take the needle back down into the final st of the round, where the yarn end emerges. Pull the yarn end through to the wrong side, adjust it to the size of the sl sts nearby, weave in end. Another needle join complete!

Crocheted Gingerbread Kid Ornament Tutorial

The icing trim on the gingerbread girl is slightly different. Sl st around her right leg first and pull the yarn ends to the wrong side. Following the complete instructions in the book, sl st around the second leg and around the edge until you come to the second corner of the skirt. Hold the yarn in back as you sl st across the tops of the legs/bottom edge of the skirt.
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Crocheted Gingerbread Kid Ornament Tutorial

When you’re to the last possible stitch before the opposite corner of the skirt, cut yarn and draw the end up and out of the final stitch. This photo shows the loop in the process of being drawn out.

Crocheted Gingerbread Kid Ornament Tutorial

Thread the yarn end into a tapestry needle. Skim the needle under the first stitch of the skirt.

Crocheted Gingerbread Kid Ornament Tutorial

Take the needle back down into the final sl st of the trim. Adjust the loop, weave in the end on the wrong side. Another needle join complete!

Make a Gingerbread Kid Ornament

To make ornaments, crochet two each of the gingerbread boy and gingerbread girl. Make a hanging loop for each ornament. from the instructions here. I used a length of No. 10 crochet cotton, but you can use embroidery floss or the yarn you used to make the gingerbread motifs.

Crocheted Gingerbread Kid Ornament Tutorial

For each ornament, sew the hanging loop to the wrong side of one motif, centering it at the top of the head. I used a contrasting color thread here, so you can easily see it. You can use whatever yarn or thread works.

Crocheted Gingerbread Kid Ornament Tutorial

Line up two matching motifs, wrong sides together. Use yarn to sew the motifs together, stitching each loop of the final round of the gingerbread kid to the matching stitch on the other motif. Basically, you will whip-stitch the pieces together. Weave the final end between the motifs.

Crocheted Gingerbread Kid Ornament Tutorial

Sewing the matching motifs together, back to back, tames the tendency of the crochet to curl. Best of all, your ornament will look nice from both sides. And you made it!

Crocheted Gingerbread Kid Ornament from Cute Crochet World

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