By Carol Ventura
Carol Ventura gives a brief introduction to Tapestry Crochet
|The triangular Turkish bag and Finnish glove on the right were tapestry crocheted in the back loop, while the Guatemalan bag and hackey sack, Cameroonian hat, and Jewish kippa were tapestry crochet in both loops.|
This type of crochet was called "hard crochet," "mosaic crochet," and "tapestry crochet" when my first book was published. Not wanting to invent another name, I chose "tapestry crochet" because the finished pieces look tapestry woven. Today this method of crocheting with multiple colours has also been published as "fair-isle," "colourwork," and "intarsia," - confusing - since these terms describe other techniques, too.
|This woman is tapestry crocheting a hat in Cameroon with acrylic yarn. Although designed for a local market, tourists also buy her hats.|
Although tapestry crochet has been around for a long time, it's only now becoming well known. What distinguishes it from regular crochet is that two or more colours are switched back and forth while crocheting a patterned cloth. I was introduced to the technique in Guatemala, where colourful bags with regional variations are popular, but have since found tapestry crochet done around the world.
Its portability and versatility have made tapestry crochet a successful cottage industry for both men and women because it requires more time than money to produce items that appeal to both locals and tourists. Tapestry crocheted products are also easily exported, being neither heavy nor fragile.
|I insert the hook under both loops and change colours while 2 working loops are still on the hook to place the final loop over a stitch of the same colour.|
Single crochet (known as double crochet in the UK) is the most common stitch used, but other stitches are also utilized. While the non-working yarns are often carried, they are sometimes dropped, then picked up again or allowed to float behind the work. The manner of changing colours also varies; being done either after completing a stitch or while 2 loops of the previous stitch are still on the hook. There's also a number of places to insert the hook; under the back loop, the front loop, or both loops! All of these variations produce different results.
|My hand and wrist prefer hooks with handles. You can see how these polymer clay handles were made in the free video on my web page www.tapestrycrochet.com.|
The choice of tension is another variable; patterned fabric with wonderful drape is obtained with loose stitches, while tighter stitches are perfect for more substantial projects, like purses that don't need to be lined. My tight tension and secure knife grip were responsible for breaking the tip off my favourite steel crochet hook more than twenty years ago! Today I tapestry crochet with slightly larger hooks that have handles.
|Both sides of the tapestry crocheted cloth are patterned with colourful thread and beads.|
Last, but not least, is the choice of material. I've tapestry crocheted with super fine linen and bulky wool and just about everything in between. Plant, animal, and synthetic fibres all work; even non traditional materials like wire are also perfect for tapestry crochet.
|This bead felted bag is one of 16 projects in my|
Bead & Felted Tapestry Crochet book.
My most recent book features bead and felted tapestry crochet. Since more than one thread is used, beads of one colour can be strung onto one thread and another colour on a contrasting thread - eliminating tedious counting and stringing in order beforehand. The threads are switched as the bead colour is needed, producing colourful patterns on both sides of the fabric. The pattern on felted tapestry crochet is also seen on both sides of the cloth since it is incorporated into the structure.
|The instructions for designing and crocheting this flat tapestry are in my first Tapestry Crochet book.|
I need to warn you, though - there's definitely a learning curve with tapestry crochet; stitch consistency and the ease of switching colours come with time. While some people thrive on the challenge of following a complicated graphed motif, others prefer much simpler patterns. Whatever your preference, I hope you'll give tapestry crochet a try. Yes, it can be frustrating at times and addicting, but it can also be therapeutic and relaxing.
Want to know more?
And one little request, if you learn to love this craft even a little, please teach it to your friends - and family - and everyone!
Also see in this issue Carol's Tapestry Crochet Market Bag pattern