Murakami Flower

murakami flower_1339

Last week I was totally flattened by an exhibit of Takashi Murakami’s work at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago. The use of pop culture references mixed with traditional Japanese cultural influences gives his work great depth.

I wanted a souvenir to take home, but nothing really compares to the real thing. So I decided to crochet my own Murakami style flower.

To start I used the flower head from Happy Sunflower by J.H. Winter that she posted on her blog. This flower had the right proportions but I needed to alter it a bit to make it like Murakami does. I needed to make 12 petals, instead of 13, requiring me to leave out the last two rounds of the center circle to make it fit.

Winter’s pattern was very helpful, explaining how to neatly form the flower center and attach the petals to the center. The most difficult part was making the crazy mouth that is creepy and happy at the same time. I almost got it right, close enough for jazz.

The back side of the flower:

Murakami flower_1341

If you want to see Murakami’s flowers and some info on his art, here’s a link to Artspace showing pictures of a few of his works including brief descriptions. Please note that anything you see online cannot compare to the REAL THING! If you have a chance to see any of his work on display do check it out.

I feel like I learned a lot about Murakami’s art by making this flower. There is more detail in the design than I expected, the eyes with the white reflections, the oddly shaped mouth, the fusion of happy and creepy.

For technical details see my Ravelry project page.

Nature’s flower:




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Mandala Madness 4, Book reviews


Lily mandala_1690

It’s time to review two books of Crochet Mandala patterns. What I love about these books is the beautiful color photos with lots of different ideas for color combinations. I find it easier to gauge color from printed photos than from the internet. Leafing through these pattern collections is an enjoyable way to look for inspiration.

First up is Mandalas to Crochet : 30 Great Patterns by Haafner Linssen, published by St. Martin’s Griffin,  2016. The photo above is the Oriental Lily pattern.

The book has nice photos and the patterns range from beginner friendly to intermediate. Many of the patterns are very simple designs but there are some fancier mandalas too. I find the color choices inspiring. For the Oriental Lily I stuck with mostly the colors used in the book, but added variegated yarn to the mix. You can see my pattern notes on my Ravelry project page.

Mandalas to Crochet has a very nice section in the beginning with illustrations of the crochet stitches, information about standing stitches, and how to make needle joins. There are helpful tips to trouble shoot and fix mandalas that don’t want to lay flat as well as information on blocking.

Each pattern has written instructions in U.S. terminology as well as a chart and full page photo of the finished mandala. There are no stitch counts for the rounds. Projects incorporating mandalas such as a bag, hot pad, and t-shirt yarn rug are also included.

I only worked one pattern from this book and did not find any errors in it. However one omission is that the yarn used is not specified for any of the mandalas. In the beginning of the book on page 7 it states “Mandalas made with a D-3 (3.25 mm) hook are made with light worsted yarn and those made with an E-4 (3.5 mm) hook are made with sport weight yarn.” I think this is a typo and that the smaller D hook should be used with the lighter sport weight yarn.

Overall this is a nice book that would be especially good for advanced beginners and those who appreciate useful technical information.

Next up is Modern Crochet Mandalas: 50+ Colorful Motifs to Crochet published by Interweave, 2016. The patterns are by several designers, Stephanie White, Kerry Bogert, Melinda Miller, and Sandra Eng.

The beautiful pictures really made me want this book. The color choices are wonderful and the mandalas are varied in style. There are some simpler patterns but this collection steers more towards intermediate level patterns. I am especially drawn to the texture of the patterns by Sandra Eng. Below are mandalas I made from the patterns in the Modern Crochet Mandalas book.

mandalas 5_1688


Instructions are written in U.S. terminology with charts and full page photos.

The first three patterns I worked from this book all had errors in the written pattern, chart, or both. I wish that the publisher would have taken more time to carefully edit these patterns for errors. I needed to use both the written instructions and the charts on each of the patterns. One of the simpler patterns had no errors.

The designs in this book are interesting, colorful and beautiful. They can also be challenging and offer a chance to use more advanced stitches and techniques. I think this would be of interest to intermediate and advanced crocheters who have enough background to be able to trouble shoot when the instructions get a little rocky.

Both of these books offer lots of inspiration for anyone who wants to explore color by making crochet mandalas. You might find both books useful, they are currently available on The Chicago Public Library carries them both so you might want to check your local library.

goin green mandala_1684

Mint Chips Mandala pattern by Kerry Bogert from Modern Crochet Mandalas. It’s a quick one to make, more of a motif than mandala but cute anyway. Technical details can be found on my Ravelry project page.

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Mandala Madness 3, Thread crochet

Doily Mandala_1669

Who says you have to use sport or dk weight yarn for a mandala? Since I have many colors of size 10 crochet thread I decided to make a few mandalas in thread.

Above is the Bougainvillea Doily designed by Zelna Olivier. The pattern is available on her Zooty Owl’s Crafty Blog. I decided to do this with size 10 crochet cotton, the pattern calls for DK  weight cotton yarn. I had to make a few alterations to the pattern because of the switch to thread. But I think it turned out pretty well. Check my Ravelry project page for colors used and hook size.

The pattern includes a photo tutorial and several beautiful examples made in different color combinations. I would rate this as an easy pattern. The photo tutorial should be helpful to advanced beginners.

fine mandala_1666 - Version 2

I had to try Sandra Eng’s Fine China Mandala with thread because my color stash of larger cotton yarn was very limited. The pattern is in the book “Modern Crochet Mandalas 50+ Colorful Motifs to Crochet”. I worked this from the chart exclusively. It worked out great until the final round. There is a mistake, the chart shows double crochet and my final round was not laying flat. When I looked at the written pattern I saw it should be half double crochet. Once I fixed that it was fine but did need blocking. You can see technical details, thread and hook size, on my Ravelry project page.

Coming soon, crochet mandala book reviews.


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Mandala Madness 2, Texture

mandala madness two_1680

One thing many of my favorite mandala patterns have in common is texture. The bottom two mandalas in the photo above are examples of how nicely textured stitches work when using multiple colors.

This is the Mini Rosette Mandala designed by Sandra Eng. She uses overlay crochet to create the beautiful pattern.

rosette mandala 1660 - Version 2

When I finished making this I was surprised to see from the back that I was just making rounds of each color!

rosette mandala back_1664

The Mini Rosette Mandala was a great opportunity to learn a little about overlay crochet. I would say this is leaning towards the advanced level. Using front loop only, back loop only, and post stitches things seem a bit complicated. But if you know how to read your stitches it isn’t that difficult. With this one I also found the instructions a bit confusing in places. I used both the written instructions and the chart to sort things out and I’m very happy with the results. If you’d like to see my notes on the project visit my Ravelry project page here.

This is the Quandry Mandala designed by Sandra Eng. Incorporating puff stitches, clusters, post stitches and using chains that extend to previous rounds this mandala has a lot of visual interest.

quandary mandala

I had some issues with the Quandry Mandala which took a little figuring out. If you’d like to see my detailed notes check my Ravelry project page.

I used Patons Grace for both of these mandalas.

Both these patterns are from the book “Modern Crochet Mandalas, 50+ Colorful Motifs to Crochet”. I used the photos from the book for color inspiration.

I will have a book review in a future post so stay tuned.

You might want to check out Sandra Eng’s blog mobiusgirldesign.

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Mandala Madness

Mandala madness_1656

Crochet mandalas have been gaining in popularity for the last few years and I finally caught the bug. After seeing so many bright and colorful mandalas on Ravelry I decided to try my hand at it. In the process I found a favorite designer, Sandra Eng.

All of the mandalas above are designed by Eng.

Puffs mandala_1665 - Version 2

This is the Puffs & Picots Mandala. It’s available as a free pattern on Sandra’s blog Mobiusgirldesign and includes a photo tutorial. If you’re thinking of making a mandala this is probably a good one to start with.

What I like about Eng’s designs is that they incorporate post stitches, puffs and other techniques to give the mandalas more texture. Some of these techniques fall into the intermediate level, but I think this one could be handled by an adventurous beginner.

Most of the mandala patterns I have seen call for sport weight or DK weight cotton yarn. In the U.S. this can be hard to come by, especially if you are looking for a yarn that comes in many colors. I used Patons Grace yarn, which comes in fairly many colors and can be found online or at some of the big chain craft stores.

The other two mandalas are from the book “Modern Crochet Mandalas: 50+ Colorful Motifs to Crochet”. Several designers are featured in the book but I find I am drawn to Eng’s designs. Shown in the top photo at lower left is the Fine China Mandala, and at top is the Rosette Mandala. You can find more information about my Puff & Picots Mandala and the other two mandalas by clicking on the titles to go to my Ravelry project pages.

I’ll share more details about these in a future post.

I hope you will be inspired to crochet a mandala.



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Filet Crochet!


Today I’m happy to share with you a chart for an adorkable filet crochet cat.

Filet crochet is a technique to make designs using open and filled squares or blocks. Usually filet crochet patterns are charts, without written instructions.

If you would like more information on working filet crochet I would recommend this article by Kathryn Vercillo on the Spruce.

Size 10 crochet cotton
1.5mm steel crochet hook

Finished size 4.25″ wide, 4″ tall, blocked
Abbreviations in US terminology
dc = double crochet
ch = chain
sk = skip
sc = single crochet
st (sts) = stitch(es)
yo = yarn over

Special stitches
dc2tog =  2 double crochet together worked over 2 sts of previous row. Yo, insert hook into st and pull up a loop, yo and pull through 2 loops, yo, insert hook into next st and pull up a loop, yo and pull through 2 loops, yo and pull through all loops on hook.

dc4tog = 4 double crochet together, worked over 4 sts of previous row. Yo, insert hook into st and pull up a loop, yo and pull through 2 loops, (yo, insert hook into next st and pull up a loop, yo and pull through 2 loops) three times,  yo and pull through all loops on hook.

The grid chart is read right to left on all odd number rows, and left to right on even numbered rows.

new chart_1622

To start: ch 48, work a dc into 4th ch from hook, dc into each chain of the row. 46 stitches, ch 3 at beginning counts as a dc here and throughout.

Row 2: read from left to right on the chart. ch 3, 3 dc (first filled square made), ch 2, sk 2 dc, dc in next st (open square made). Work in this manner across following the chart. When you reach the last 4 sts make 4 dc (filled square) to end the row.

Continue on reading the chart in the same manner. When working a filled square over an open square work into the chain space.

Beginning on row 11 I have added a few stitches to the mesh to make the cat design look more cat like. For these groups of stitches I have used traditional crochet chart symbols,  see the key on the chart. For the dc2tog and dc4tog see the special stitches section above.

When you are done I highly recommend blocking to even out the stitches. I soaked mine for about 10 minutes in cool water, then rolled it in a towel to extract excess moisture. I pinned it out on a blocking square but an ironing board cover also works well.

I am happy to be participating in Crochetville’s 5th Annual NatCroMo Blog Tour. Check out the featured blogs at Crochetville.



McDuff checks out the work in progress. Is that a cat treat under the yarn bowl?



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Crochet Workshops at Yarncon

I’m excited to offer several crochet workshops on April 1 & 2 at Yarncon in Chicago.

tunisian crochet_1611

I’m teaching a beginning workshop on Tunisian crochet. Above is a photo of some Tunisian crochet stitches worked in several colors. I think this will become a scarf; even with the most basic stitches you can create something beautiful.

pink cables_1613


Above is a photo of the crochet cables I’ll be teaching in a workshop. I’ll cover how to make cables and offer instructions on how to make a cabled headband or ear warmer. This is a really cool technique and a fun project for anyone who wants to try cables for the first time.

baby suri scarf- 513

The Tunisian Crochet Lace workshop is an introduction to lace stitches. We will begin making my Skinny Mint Tunisian Scarf (shown above) using the techniques we have learned. This is the perfect spring accessory, light and airy. Add this to your crochet arsenal.

Yarncon is one of my favorite fiber events. Indie dyers and yarn stores sell their wares. It’s a great place to shop for unique yarn, spinning supplies, various knit and crochet supplies, project bags etc. I’m excited to see what the vendors have to offer this year. With so many local yarn stores closing this is an opportunity to see the yarn and fibers in person and still buy from indie shops.

Here is the schedule for my workshops.

Beginning Tunisian Crochet Saturday April 1, 12-12:50 pm (beginner level)

Crochet Cables Saturday April 1, 1-2:50 pm (intermediate level)

Beginning Tunisian Crochet Sunday April 2, 11-11:50 am

Introduction to Tunisian Crochet Lace Sunday April 2, 12-1:50 pm (advanced beginner level) Take the beginning Tunisian Crochet workshop and you’ll be able to do the Tunisian Crochet Lace.

Yarncon April 1 & 2 2017
Chicago Journeymen Plumbers Union Hall
1340 W Washington St
Chicago IL 60607

For more information or to sign up for classes see their website.

Coming up: NatCroMo Blog Tour on Crochetville.

My blog will be featured on March 21, 2017. I’ll be featuring a new crochet pattern.



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