TAPESTRY CROCHET


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Tapestry crochet is similar to regular crochet, except that two or more yarns are worked at the same time to create a colorful fabric. Actually, one or more yarns are usually carried while another yarn is crocheted. This technique is also called mosaic crochet, colorwork, fair isle, hard crochet, and intarsia. The finished pieces look woven instead of crocheted.  I discovered it in 1976 when I was a Peace Corps volunteer in Guatemala. Mayan men tapestry crochet beautiful traditional shoulder bags with cotton thread or wool yarn. In other parts of the world tapestry crochet is used to make yarmulkes and hats. For more information about my involvement, see "A Passion for Tapestry Crochet," "Mexico with Dr. Carol Ventura, Associate Professor of Art," and "It's not weaving . . . it's not canvas work . . . It's tapestry crochet!" For tapestry crochet talk and photos, please join the Tapestry Crochet Ravelry and Yahoo Groups!


The following free videos (click on the arrows to play them) are from the PBS television show, Creative Living with Sheryl Borden. For more information about tapestry crochet graph paper, please look at page 11 of Creative Living

This first segment shows tapestry crochet from the Americas, Africa, and Europe:

Carol shows how to design tapestry crochet motifs with tapestry crochet graph paper: 


Carol demonstrates Bead Tapestry Crochet and shows how to use a bead spinner. For the heart basket pattern, please look at page 10 and 11 of Lifestyles.


It helps to use a hook with a handle when crocheting tightly. This tutorial shows how to make crochet hook handles from polymer clay:

This tutorial shows how to crochet my free felted amulet bag. It also demonstrates blocking with a steam iron:


This tutorial shows two ways to tapestry crochet the Flat Heart in my More Tapestry Crochet book:


Learn by doing! Link to these free patterns that include tapestry crochet tutorials:

Beaded Heart Basket
video / instructions pages 10 & 11

Basket

Thread Amulet Bag

Felted Amulet Bag

Handspun Hats

Kitty Bag

Horse Around Purse

Bead Duck Basket

Felted Bag


Please click on the projects below to purchase these online patterns:
 Silk Scarf  for Lefties
Silk Scarf for Righties Have a Heart Scarf Have a Heart Scarf Yes Scarf for Lefties
Cat Pillow for Lefties Cat Pillow for Righties
Hearts Round Pillow
Handy Basket for Lefties
New World Sweater Lefties / Righties

Felted Bag For Lefties

Felted Bag For Righties

Market Bag For Lefties / Righties

Bag for Lefties Bag for Righties
Cat Purse for Lefties

Cat Purse for Righties

 
Beaded Bag for Lefties
Beaded Bag for Righties

Alpaca Star Hat for Lefties

Star Hat for Righties

My Tapestry Crochet Books (newest to oldest):

This 64 page self published book stands alone and also supplements my other tapestry crochet books. In addition to right-handed and left-handed tutorials, Bead & Felted Tapestry Crochet includes 167 colorful illustrations and photographs, four tapestry crochet papers, and easy to understand instructions (without abbreviations) for purses, bracelets, earrings, and a hat. Seven projects are beaded, six are felted (in a washing machine), and three incorporate both techniques. Crocheted tightly with a small crochet hook or loosely with a large hook, this book has it all! It is available from Amazon.com. Please look at the errata sheet!

Bead & Felted Tapestry Crochet Book Review:
Crochet Guild of America's Chain Link, September, 2007

With every new book Dr. Ventura outdoes herself! Even if you already own her earlier classics, this latest book will inspire and carefully guide you to incorporate beads in your tapestry crochet projects, or to felt them, or both. If you don't own her other books, or are new to tapestry crochet, all the necessary information is here even for beginners to start from scratch. Separate instructions for lefties are provided. Carol's signature tapestry crochet graph paper is included.
    There are 16 projects ranging from jewelry to flat bags to bowls and round-bottom bags. They're grouped in color-coded chapters of Rounds, Tubes, Circular Spiral, and Oblong Spiral. For me this format facilitates learning tapestry crochet and choosing my next project.
    The striking geometric patterns and symbols are enhanced with selective beading for a 3-D effect and sharpened color contrasts. Felting is a creative, fascinating option for tapestry crochet with or without beading. I tried to single out favorite designs and can't, but the Bead Diamond Bracelet makes me look for my hook to get started! A range of yarn weights, fiber types, and hook sizes are used, and it's easy to make substitutions.
     It's important to point out that this book benefits from being self-published because the author's extensive experience, teaching abilities, and strong vision shine through. Vashti Braha

Beadwrangler, March, 2007
Her third book in a series, Bead & Felted Tapestry Crochet, is the next progression of Carol's work. She has created projects with all beads in tapestry crochet. It is amazing what happens when you add the beads – pure magic! 
     She also added instructions for felting tapestry crochet. Instructions and illustrations are provided for tapestry crochet, with and without beads, using both the right and left-hand. Carol explains gauge, adjusting tension, decreasing, increasing and loading beads onto thread, including the use of a bead spinner. By the way, that is one of my bead spinners in the photo. 
     The paper, print, and photos are high quality, resulting in the projects appearing as if you could reach in and pull them out with your hands.  There is an artistic quality to the whole production of the book, and the book actually feels good to the touch and extremely pleasing to the eye. 
     There are seven beaded, six felted and three projects with both bead crochet and felting combined.  Bags, earrings, bracelets, amulets, baskets, and a hat are created using these tapestry techniques. There are patterns that are completely covered with beads and others are partially covered with beads and other areas of fiber. 
     For felting, there is a photo example of a bag before felting and one after felting. The difference is a real surprise. The felting brings a soft muted finish to the bag, whereas when worked without felting, the pattern has more clarity with an exacting appearance. My choice of bags is the "Let's Face It Tote"; the face is abstract and yet you can see the image.  At the same time, the negative space can change your view of the face to see only shapes and diagonals lines instead. 
     There are color graphs for each project; and patterns set up with each row/round listed separately instead of all jammed together in a paragraph or two. 
     The hat has a beautiful brim and can be sized to fit any head size when felted. The reversible bead crocheted basket is great for interior design; the side with the beads can be set outside or inside; both sides, with and without beads are beautiful. Carol's baskets will be a real plus to your home. 
     There are large oversized bags to very the small bags, all with unique handle designs; bags with zippers and those with fold-over flaps. You will find more than one bag you want to make. 
     Carol has authored a dynamic, artistic book that you can't do without!  I keep all three of her books where I can quickly grab them up and start crocheting. Lydia Borin, Tampa, Florida

Bead & Button, February 2007
This book will show you how to create intricately colorful bead-crochet designs while avoiding the tediousness of counting and individually stringing each bead on a single piece of yarn. (Tapestry crochet achieves patterns using multiple yarns with one color of beads on each strand.)
     It introduces beginners to the basic art of crochet with thorough instructions and small beginner projects like coin purses. Yet it also presents designs requiring hours of skillful concentration, such as large elaborate bags or baskets that are complex enough to challenge even seasoned artists. And if you'd rather challenge yourself, there are separate custom graphs to help right- or left-handers design their own projects.

Black Purl Magazine, January 2007
Tapestry crochet, the art of crocheting with different colored strands of yarn while carrying the yarn, produces woven-like results. But don't be too concerned if you've never heard of this technique. Dr. Carol Ventura has come to the rescue. Though Ventura didn't invent the technique, she is surely a master of it.
      Ventura is also a master of written instructions; instructions that appeal to all kinds of learners. Patterns are graphed and instructions are written in long-hand -- a special touch that you don't often see in pattern-writing. Because the patterns are so easy-to-read, tapestry crochet beginners or crochet "newbies" in general can feel comfortable and assured that this is a technique they can pick up easily.
      Bead & Felted Tapestry Crochet is a well-organized book that gives the reader several types of projects to choose from: Tapestry Crochet Basics "walks" you through the basics of crochet (for the right- and left-handed crocheters), describes suitable yarns and threads, the tapestry crochet technique, and provides special graph paper (which Ventura did invent). The Rounds Projects section features beaded and felted bags. Tube Projects guide you in creating beautiful, beaded bracelets. Learn to make baskets, bags, and hats in the Circular Spiral Projects section. The Oblong Spiral Projects section features my favorite, the compassionate and unique "Awareness Purse," a purse that can be customized to honor other special causes.
      The 15+ projects in Bead & Felted Tapestry Crochet are unique, varied and are sure to be head-turners.  The beautifully photographed projects and expertly-written instructions (and patiently-written, I might add) will entice you to create every project. L'Tanya Durante

Crochet Insider, December 2006
Carol Ventura's new book  takes the art that she loves so much to a new level. In her first two books, Carol offered important historical information on how tapestry crochet has been practiced across the world, as well as in-depth instruction on creating colorwork patterns and designing your own charts. Because of crochet's tendency to slant, she also created a special template that allows one to make crochet "pictures" that look normal. The new book teaches how to combine tapestry crochet with beads, how to felt your crochet, and how to felt with beads, thus broadening the creative options in several directions. It has a strong how-to section for both right and left-handed crocheters. Carol's designs are inspired by everything from Salvador Dali to native art of Central America. Some of the most beautiful projects are her containers. There are stunning geometric patterns like her beaded Amulet bag, a chevron change purse, a diamond beaded bracelet, and lovely pictorial patterns like the "Let's Face it Tote," and the Breast Cancer Awareness purse. Carol self-publishes all her books and does a particularly fine job: layout, comprehensibility, and photos are all of the highest professional quality. Amy O'Neill Houk

Crochet Me, Winter 2006
Crochet Me designer Carol Ventura is on a mission to inform and educate crafters everywhere about the wonders of tapestry crochet. It's an admirable goal, one she's a step closer to achieving with the release of her latest self-published book.Bead & Felted Tapestry Crochet is a generous size, and the pages lay open nicely. Large photographs and clear illustrations make the techniques and projects seem straightforward and accessible. Instructions are given both for crocheting right-handed and left-handed, so this book should make lefties everywhere cry from joy. Complete with her special tapestry crochet graph paper, reproduceable for personal use only, this book will no doubt lead to years of exciting crocheting. Kim Piper Werker

 

More Tapestry Crochet (2002) can be used alone or with Tapestry Crochet. Besides basic crocheting instructions for right-handed crochet and left-handed crochet, More Tapestry Crochet includes an expanded history chapter, 14 graphs, 20 projects (with easy to understand instructions without abbreviations) and a survey of several natural fibers. The 176 page paperback book includes 8 tapestry crochet graph papers, 139 illustrations, 117 black and white photographs, and 20 color photographs (ISBN 0-9721253-0-2). More Tapestry Crochet is out of print, but used copies are sometimes available at Amazon.com.  Please look at the errata sheet! The updated, full color second edition, More Tapestry Crochet Digital, is now available at Amazon Kindle for $9.99. With Amazon's free App, you can read Kindle books on an Android phone or tablet, iPad, iPhone, Mac, Windows 8 PC or tablet, BlackBerry, or Windows Phone!

More Tapestry Crochet Book Reviews:
Beadwrangler, March, 2007

More Tapestry Crochet is Carol's second book on the subject. All the how-to instructions that were in her first book are included plus all new projects. Both left-hand and right-hand illustrations are provided for how to tapestry crochet. The project graphs are for right-handed people only. I never did well with using a mirror; however, if you follow the pattern as is; it will simply face the opposite direction. Most of us lefties design backwards from righties anyway.
    These projects include amulet pouches, pillow, bags; shawl/throw, hats, baskets, scrunches, scarves, circular spheres and small tapestries made using various tapestry techniques. Carol also included a beaded tapestry crochet rope, necklace and bracelet. The projects have motifs incorporated into the patterns such as diagonal waves, giraffes, hearts and cats.
    The techniques include working in the round and in rows, to make circular spirals, tubes, squares, spiral oblongs, spiral circulars, forming two and three dimensional tapestry art. Many of the motifs are steeped in history and others contemporary.
    There are in-depth instructions for working a motif in a project; how to check for stitch gauge; and every row/round is listed one at a time, not all grouped together in one big paragraph. You can use a ruler or paperclip to work down each row/round in a project. I often have to rewrite a whole pattern when crocheting or knitting because the pattern is in one big paragraph and it is easy to lose my place. If the pattern does not make sense, I rewrite it, figuring it out as I go. Carol's patterns on the other hand, are very easy to follow just as they are written. You will be amazed when you can make patterns within your project and do not have lose threads on the back (wrong side), and both sides will reflect each other.
    While teaching you tapestry crochet, you will also learn about the history of tapestry crochet; where it first emerged, and the type fibers used, including those from sheep. There are several photos of tapestry crochet from around the world, along with photos of some of the makers while they are crocheting.
    Carol made a self-portrait and then replicated it, using different thread colors to teach color theory and personality in her classes. Some of these portraits are included in this book and are printed in various white-to-gray-to-black scales. I found her study to be of great interest.
    More Tapestry Crochet is an excellent addition to Carol's first book and stands alone as a complete instruction book. I would highly recommend you purchase each of her books on this subject, and keep them for reference in addition to the projects. Lydia Borin, Tampa, Florida

Shuttle, Spindle, & Dyepot, Volume XXXIV No. 3 (135), Summer 2003
This self-published book is a valuable addition to the crochet enthusiast's library. Less known than many other needlework techniques, tapestry crochet is rarely touched upon in other "how-to" crochet books. The author wrote a previous book on this subject, but the current volume is sufficient by itself in spite of the "More" in the title.
      The book begins with a brief history of tapestry crochet throughout the world. Ventura was first exposed to this method when she was a Peace Corps volunteer in Guatemala. Later she began experimenting with the form, creating original art works in series. Her development of special graph paper for charting designs in tapestry crochet is extremely useful, and she presents examples of each type for easy copying by the reader. These graphs are excellent planning tools for any project using color-work. Also included are several graphed alphabets especially for use with tapestry crochet, crochet hook size charts, a supplier's list and a bibliography, as well as brief instructions to the various available natural fibers.
      There are large, clear illustrations of the stitches with well-written directions and diagrams that a crocheter with very minimal experience can easily follow. The best manner of holding a crochet hook and the yarn for this method is carefully explained and will definitely require practice. Readers will find the manner of holding the hook essential but can easily choose another method of yarn tensioning. The explanation of how to use multiple colors in a piece is quite precise - a helpful tip since directions often state only to "change colors and proceed."
      One of the best uses of tapestry crochet is sculptural. It can produce a firm fabric in three dimensions quite suitable for bags, hats, and baskets or items such as whimsical stuffed animals. It invites experimentation.
      A number of projects for the different tapestry techniques are accompanied by clear directions, charts and photographs, primarily in black and white. There is a center section where projects are shown in color.
      It would have been desirable for the book to be spiral bound. However, this is a minor drawback to a very well written and useful instruction book. Judith Freed, Pacific Palisades, California

Crochet Fantasy, February 2003
More Tapestry Crochet, Carol Ventura's second volume on this fascinating crochet method is a comprehensive guide to this technique. The book offers clear and detailed instructions and illustrations to ensure your success.
      There are twenty varied projects to crochet: scrunchies, a hacky sack, purses, baskets, bowls, pillows, a blanket, a scarf, a shawl and even a beaded spiral necklace.
       Carol's guidelines for designing your own unique tapestry crochet projects make it easy for anyone to be a designer! Carol has developed special charts that represent the unique shifting tendency of sc and help make your designs come out the way you envision them.
      The author has done extensive research, traveling around the world, and presents a brief history of this technique along with photographs of examples of the craft from Europe, the Middle East, Africa, and the Americas.

Library Journal, Vol. 127, No. 20, December 2002
In tapestry crochet, the artisan works with smooth yarns or threads in a variety of colors and a comparatively small hook in relation to fiber size. Those colors not currently in use are carried within the piece until needed again. The result is a dense fabric somewhat reminiscent of woven tapestry. Ventura first discovered tapestry crochet as a Peace Corps volunteer in Guatemala when she acquired some of the colorful tapestry-crocheted shoulderbags that are part of traditional Maya male attire. Her first book on the subject was Tapestry Crochet. The present work repeats much of the instructional material of its predecessor but includes an illustrated history of tapestry crochet, expanded information on natural fibers, and many new projects, including hats, baskets, bags, and pillows. An excellent choice for textile collections and public libraries.

Crochet!, November 2002
While serving as a Peace Corps volunteer in Guatemala, Carol Ventura was inspired by the colorful tapestry crocheted shoulder bags made there. Since then, she has explored the design potential of this technique and has developed a system of diagramming patterns. She shares this technique in More Tapestry Crochet in which she features a variety of flat and dimensional projects. Carol holds a Ph.D. in art, an M.A. in ceramics, and an M.F.A. in printmaking, papermaking and book arts. Widely published in both scholarly journals and magazines, Carol's latest book is 176 pages filled with illustrations, photographs, projects and history of the technique. Instructions are included for both right and left-handed stitchers.

Tapestry Crochet (1991) is my first book, written when my name was Carol Norton. It teaches the basics of the sturdy, multicolored technique. Right-handed and left-handed tutorials, ten projects (with easy to understand instructions without abbreviations) and design information are included to start you on your way to making pillows, bags, baskets, and tapestries. Unfortunately, this 110 page paperback book is now out of print (ISBN 0-932394-15-9), but it is available from some Amazon.com sellers. Please look at the errata sheet!

Tapestry Crochet Book Reviews:
Beadwrangler, March, 2007
Carol Ventura, PhD, has authored a series of tapestry crochet books and this book was her first. She has traveled extensively throughout the world and studied textiles during her excursions. 
     While serving with the Peace Corps in Guatemala, Carol was introduced to the art of tapestry crochet. She immersed herself in the craft, gained knowledge of the culture, history and symbolism combined in these tapestries. 
     When she returned home, Carol brought this craft to the US by teaching classes and creating tapestry bags. She embraced the folk motifs and created her own designs. Her book evolved from this experience. 
    There are complete step by step instructions and illustrations for both right-hand and left-hand people. The illustrations are very clear and easy to follow. There are blank graphs for you to create your own patterns. 
    The projects include beautiful baskets, wall-hanging tapestries, change purses, eyeglass cases, a pillow and clock faces. Various motifs are charted to follow when making these items. The techniques include working in the round and in rows, forming two and three dimensional tapestry art. Many of the motifs are steeped in history and others contemporary. It is interesting that the graphs on pages 88 and 89, and the photo on page 87; "Someday" tapestry, is reminiscent of fractals in chaos theory. 
    You will find tapestry crochet easy to accomplish and you will not have to keep changing threads and having hanging loose thread at the back of your work.  Both sides will look finished as you go. 
    Tapestry Crochet should be on a prominent bookshelf every crocheter's library. Lydia Borin, Tampa, Florida

Spin-Off Magazine, Fall 1992
Tapestry crochet forms a sturdy texture in two or three colors. It is worked at a tight tension that hides strands of unused colors which are carried within the row of stitches. The materials are simple - crochet cotton or heavy rug wool and a sturdy crochet hook. Norton starts with the basics of crocheting with either the right or left hand. Her explanations are very clear and they are accompanied by explicit drawings.
    Because the finished stitches appear to be slightly angled, Norton developed graph paper to facilitate designing; the elements of the grid look like rounded shingles or overlapping bird feathers. The graph comes in different proportions, corresponding to the number of colors used, because carrying more colors makes taller rows.
    Though the work traditionally is done in the round, Norton uses two methods to work flat - working in the opposite direction across the row or working with the other hand. Several projects lead you through different aspects of increasing complexity toward designing your own projects. The idea of tapestry crochet is very simple, and this book gives you the explicit details that ensure immediate success in accomplishing it.

Handwoven Magazine, November/December 1992
Inspired by the shoulder bags that are part of the Mayan Indian man's traditional outfit, Norton presents tapestry crochet, a form of sturdy crochet worked in two or three colors. The basics of crocheting with either the right or left hand are described and accompanied by clear drawings. To facilitate designing, Norton developed a graph paper that represents crocheted stitches; the elements of the grid resemble rounded shingles or overlapping bird feathers.

Click on image to enlarge

With this video (or DVD), you will be taught the basics of tapestry crochet while making a two-color eyeglass case. By increasing the number of stitches, the same techniques can be used to crochet a change purse, shoulder bag, or pillow. My video, Tapestry Crochet, is available from Yarn Barn (search Tapestry Crochet) or call (800) 848-0284-0035. 

Tapestry Crochet Video Reviews:
School Arts, Vol. 92, No. 8, April, 1993
This program illustrates the crochet techniques as applied to tapestry making - also known as Jacquard, Mosaic, or Hard Crochet, and it enables the craftsperson to create unique and sturdy clothing accessories, baskets and intricate wall hangings for only a few dollars worth of equipment. It differs from ordinary crochet in its texture, tension, and the way colors are worked. This program thoroughly illustrates the basics of tapestry crochet, and demonstrates how this technique can be used to make a variety of craft items. Well produced, and easy to follow, this videotape will be most helpful to anyone at or above middle school level interested in this technique or fiber arts in general.

Video Rating Guide for Libraries, Vol. 3, No. 2, Spring 1992
Audience: High School to Adult

This instructional video teaches the basics of tapestry crochet, which differs from normal crochet in texture, tension, and use of colors. The instructor, Carol Norton, who wrote a book of the same name, learned this technique in Guatemala; Guatemalan men crochet their own bags, which are a part of their working wardrobe. The bags created using this technique are heavier than normal crochet and often have complex designs worked into the fabric.
    Norton is a very good instructor; each technique is clearly demonstrated. She begins with an explanation of materials needed for the simple project, which can be completed using the video as guidance. She then demonstrates the basic crochet stitches and techniques. The creation of an eyeglass case with a simple, two-color design is followed by sections on blocking, increasing and decreasing stitches to create shapes, spirals, flat tapestry crochet, and borders. the final section concentrates of designing tips; Norton explains her unique charting method that allows very precise reproduction of designs and photographic images.
    Video is the perfect medium for this type of instruction; sometimes even pictures in a book cannot adequately illustrate a needlework technique. there are close-up shots of all procedures needed to complete the stitches. Pauses are also suggested to practice some of the basic techniques. The instruction is aimed at the beginning crocheter, though as an experienced crocheter, I would want to start with some practice in basic crochet stitches before moving on to this technique. Two pages of supplemental information accompany the video. The video does include page-number references to the Tapestry Crochet book, which must be purchased separately. the video stands alone, but the book could be a useful adjunct.
    I highly recommend this video to public and school libraries where there is an interest in needlework techniques. This technique goes beyond craft to art, if the viewer is so inclined. Tracy Kaltenbrun


Library Journal, Vol. 117, No. 8, May 1, 1992
Carol Norton, who learned tapestry crochet while a Peace corps volunteer in Guatemala, introduces the basics as well as more advance techniques on this well-produced video. Even those who have not crocheted before would be able to follow directions for casting on, calculating, gauges, and basic stitches. The project, an eyeglass case, can be completed in a couple of hours and requires limited investment in materials and equipment Includes printed diagram of design). There are on-screen references to Norton's book, Tapestry Crochet (not seen). Good close-ups and clear directions compensate for Norton's rather flat delivery. Recommended for craft collections. Joan Greenberg, Upper Moreland Free P.L., Willow Grove, PA.

American Library Association, Vol. 88, No. 14, March 15, 1992
Tapestry Crochet (still used by Guatemalan Indians to make decorative shoulder bags) has a texture, tension, and method of working in color that are different from regular crochet. Instructing viewers in this technique, Carol Norton creates an eyeglass case. Good camera work illuminates hand, hook, and yarn positions as Norton demonstrates and provides easy-to-follow instructions for the basic stitches, checking the gauge, and blocking the finished products. During her relaxed presentation, the published author suggests other possible projects. Title screens permit easy access to this well-produced craft video. Ages 12-adult. Nancy McCray

One of the best things about tapestry crochet is that you can do it anywhere because it does not require a specially equipped studio. It is relaxing and regenerative - in fact - it is a proven fact that endorphins are released during repetitive activities - and tapestry crochet qualifies! On the left I am tapestry crocheting in a gondola on the way up to the Great Wall of China! Please email me pictures that I can add to a "you can do it anywhere" web page of the places where you tapestry crochet. At home, outside, on vacation - wherever. 

I hope that you will discover the potential of tapestry crochet and share it with your friends and family. I also hope that you will teach tapestry crochet classes, design your own tapestry crochet pieces with the help of the tapestry crochet graph papers in the book, and publish the instructions. The exploration of tapestry crochet has just begun. Now it's your turn to discover what can be done with it!

Link to Carol Ventura's Home Page  
Link to Carol Ventura's Backstrap Weaving Page  
Link to Carol Ventura's
publications  
For more crochet information, go to the Crochet Guild of America  
Link to Fiber Images 
Link to Victorian Crochet 

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