Sunday, March 29, 2015

2015 NatCroMo

As we near the end of March, I hope everyone has been enjoying National Crochet Month (NatCroMo) and I am delighted to participate in Crochetville's 2015 NatCroMo Blog Tour again this year.  I thank Amy Shelton and Donna Hulka for including me in it.

Let me get to my fabulous give-away first.  Since I consider myself a textile historian (specializing in handwork, particularly crochet and knitting), I approach things a little differently than my fellow designers.  (Actually, I feel a little presumptuous referring to myself as a designer; I consider myself a fledgling designer.)  So, rather than a free design or yarn, I am offering two (one each) c1913 Stitchery Quarterlies to two randomly-chosen people who send me a Facebook message stating "NatCroMo" between March 31 and April 15, 2015.  (If you are not already my friend, you may have to befriend me first to send me the message.)  I will put your names on slips of paper and blindly select the lucky winners no later than April 30th.  Good luck to all entrants!!!

So, you might ask "What are Stitchery Quarterlies?"  They are publications edited by Flora Klickmann during the early 20th century to supplement her Girl's Own Paper and Woman's Magazine (GOP), which she also edited.  GOP was a British equivalent to the 19th century U.S. Godey's and Peterson's Magazines, covering all topics deemed of interest to women. As Stitchery's title reveals, these supplements were devoted to textile handwork.  For more information see my May/June 2011 PieceWork magazine article "Flora Klickmann: Author, Editor, Needleworker."  I am proud that my adaptation of her butterfly is on that magazine's cover.  As you see I also have made these butterflies with finer, size 80, tatting thread.

Stitchery No.1 starts out with Flora's editorial "How Needlework Reveals Our Aims," and features Irish crochet patterns including the original instructions for the above butterfly (all patterns are in antiquated {pre-standardization} British notation), plain crochet (both thread and wool), Tunisian (Afghan stitch) crochet, articles on: Flora Klickmann's needlework tools collection, lace (bobbin and needle), beadwork, and other techniques.  It is a delightful little magazine.

No.4 starts our with Mary Frances Billington's editorial "Needlework and Commonsense." It includes many plain thread and wool crochet and Irish crochet, knitting, macrame  and embroidery patterns.  It includes a fabulous thread Daisy Design Baby's Cap made largely out of bullions (roll stitch).  It, too, is a delightful little magazine. 

Additionally, I am reintroducing my free Flower Bangle Pattern, in case you missed it last year.  See for pattern instructions.

This blog is supposed to introduce me to you.  I am a retired government official, having specialized in large, main-frame computer systems. While working at that high-stress job, I relaxed by studying textile history, learning many textile and beadwork techniques, occasionally teaching others to crochet, and collecting textile handwork tools and publications.  While I still relax in the same way, that was my "other" life. 

Since retiring from my computer career in 2005, I have devoted much of my time to becoming a Crochet Guild of America (CGOA) professional member and earning CGOA's Master of Crochet Stitches and Techniques. My CGOA mentor, Randy Berne Cavalier, (a talented designer of classic crochet patterns) encouraged me to follow my passions and helped me recognize that I could fill a unique niche due to my years of studying textile history. So I began writing about textile history and adapting antique patterns for modern use.  You can find my articles in PieceWork, Crochet Traditions, CGOA Chainlink Newsletter, and Paper & Advertising Collectibles Marketplace magazines and Gwen Blakely-Kinsler's Royal Ramblings Blog.  

So, why am I wearing a vintage WWII-era hat with knitting needles on top for a crochet event?  Although my favorite techniques are crochet and beadwork, I study all needlework techniques and two of my specialty areas are the "WWI and WWII Workbasket Campaigns," which I define as the campaigns during the World Wars to knit (mostly), sew, quilt, and even crochet, items for warriors, wounded, refugees, and the patriotic homeland.  In addition to: displaying portions of my collections at various museums,  the blogs I wrote for Gwen ( and, and writing the March/April 2012 PieceWork "Patriotic Knitting Tools" article; I have provided consulting services to Melanie Gall for her CDs of WWI  Knitting all the Day ( and WWII Sweeter in a Sweater  ( knitting songs.

In 2011, at Greensboro, NC, I took freeform crochet classes from Prudence Mapstone.  (This is also where I first met Gwen.)  Prior to Prudence's freeform jewelry class I went to the nearby Emerald Hollow Mine in Hiddenite, NC and gathered semi-precious gemstones with the aim to use them in Prudence's class.  During her class I began making my NC Necklace.  I was honored with CGOA's first place award in their Small Wonders category the following year.

In 2013 Prudence Mapstone invited me to participate in her 2013 Hearts & Flowers Freeform Knit and Crochet Tour of Australia and New Zealand.  Here is my contribution:
I wanted to make something to serve as a U.S. ambassador to Australia and New Zealand, and what could be more American than to highlight the international nature of our heritage. I lived in Berlin, Germany during my high school years, where I saw many symmetrical interwoven hearts, so I designed a distorted version of the German heart as the 'ground' of my design, I filled it with flowers symbolic of my heritage: the wild rose for British, the edelweiss and cornflowers for German, the Iris for French, the double rose for my mother's birthplace in New York (and where my parents met during WWII), the violet for my and my father's birthplace in Wisconsin, and the dogwood for my husband's and son's birthplace in Virginia and my home (excluding those years in Germany) since 1951.

This year Prudence Mapstone invited me to participate in a 50 Years of Flower Power Collaboration piece.  Here is my Peter Max Tribute contribution (using his motifs and palette, but all made in crochet and put together in my own composition).  I also made the paisley motif, which is more similar to those contributed by other participants.  I can't wait to see them incorporated in the completed Project.  Prudence has a fabulous eye and it will be exciting to see all the contributions put together.

Future plans:  In addition to writing my regular column in the CGOA Chainlink Newsletter, I am working on a beadwork and crochet ocean-themed project for this year's International FreeForm Fiberarts Guild Challenge---I can't divulge more details on that yet.  I hope to make some headway into some of the books I am planning.  And I want to do more beadwork---I have so many designs in mind and many fabulous cabochons to incorporate...  Also thinking of posting vintage postcards (and other cards) depicting cats with textiles and/or textile tools.  Is there any interest in seeing those cards? 


  1. Hi Karen,
    Is there any way that I can enter the giveaway if I don't have Facebook? I really love vintage crochet/knitting/needlework patterns, so I was just wondering. Thanks, and I love your designs!

    1. Thank you shelfreadinglife. I have been trying to increase my readership on Facebook, but I will be happy to include your entry if you will join this site (I promise to be a more active blogger in the future.) and send me an email: with NatCroMo in the subject line.

  2. Totally cool! I sent you a message on your FB page. Thanks!

  3. Thanks again Karen for the opportunity to win one of these lovely books!

  4. NatCroMo! NatCroMo! NatCroMo! Does that give the idea that I would love to have one of those books? You betcha'!

  5. Thank you ladies. I am having trouble reconciling your names with the NatCroMo messages I have seen, but I always respond to the messages with "You are entered!" If you haven't gotten that message from me in a few hours, you may want send another message. I prefer Private Messages.

  6. Love your freeform work. I have never been able to get the hang of it myself but love how it looks.

  7. Thank you Sharon. I actually call my freeform, controlled freeform, an oxymoron, but it is more controlled than that many others do, which is a go with the flow method. I tend to prefer to work from a rough sketch, of what I am making. But I also love the "true" go-with-the-flow look, so I will need to do more of that in the future.