Sunday, September 22, 2013

Quilted and Crocheted Magic Mushroom Basket

You know how sometimes you make one thing and put it away, and then you make something else, and then one day you realize the two things should be together?

For example. This fun and experimental quilted strip, about 16" long by 4 1/2"  has been sitting in my stash for years. It was quilted only through the top and batting layer, with no backing.

That was some serious psychotherapy. There's a ribbon-yarn wandering across it in waves, and lots of raw edges and variegated threads. 

Then, a couple of days ago,  I crocheted this objet with mostly vintage yarns. (The squiggly blue yarn I used to make bobbles is especially groovy).

Here's a quiz: What do you call this thing? There was a time (a few months ago), when I would have called it a doily, a word that has deeply anti-feminist connotations for me and women of my Boom generation.

But I have recently been immersed in a new world of courageous crochet (which includes "yarn bombing," the coolest thing ever) and have discovered that I can call things like this "mandalas"!  (Do an etsy search for "crochet mandalas," and you'll get several talented crocheters selling patterns.)

Shortly after finishing my improvised, uh, mandala, I was sifting through an unfinished project pile and found the artsy strip. They looked kinda cool together! (It helps that I've been using the same color scheme for years, jewel-tone peacock colors. Must. Break. Out!)

I had a yen to make a basket out of my strip. So I fused the strip to a blue-and-white batik and stitched a side seam. Zig-zagged over the seam edges with thread, and set in a 4 1/2" circle (two layers of fabric, with fused batting in-between)::

Stitched them together, turn right side out, voila.

Back in the pre-feminism days, I would have plopped that basket on top of  the doily on top of a bureau or sideboard or knick-knack shelf or whatever display cases 1950s people enjoyed. But this is the 21rst century, so I tried plopping the doily on top of the vessel!

But it sagged:
Nothing worse than a saggy mandala. 
So I crocheted a lining for the mandala, from dark yarn, slightly smaller than the top. With gold yarn, I crocheted the edges of the top to the bottom.
This pulled in the top, gave it the sturdiness it needed, (Here's it's leaning against the vessel.)

The extra layer also made it look kind of like a mushroom cap!  Mandala Mushroom Vessel Alert!

What's not to love? Well, a lot actually. I'm going to continue to explore the mandala-vessel- lid possibilities. I need to figure out an elegant way to make a hinge that attaches the top to the bottom. In the meantime, I firmly believe that crochet and quilting are natural allies. Both are improvisational, relaxing, serious color therapy and a lot of fun! 

Do you crochet? Have you combined it with quilting? I would like to hear about it!

PS I just realized that the lid also doubles as a yarmulke. Having written a book on yarmulkes, I'm surprised it took me this long to figure it out!

UPDATE 10/7/13 Another vessel with a crocheted lid is here.


  1. Very nice! I am a knitter, art quilter, weaver. Trying to toss in some recycled art for an upcoming challenge. I think all of these mediums expand our creative consciousness. Good for you. Keep at it. Your colors are great!

    1. Thanks so much for your encouragement! I can fully imagine that weaving/knitting/art quilting would have fabulous synergy!

  2. This is so totally cool. But I didn't know doily was a dirty word. What are the anti-feminist connotations?

    1. Hi, Margaret,
      Doily = homemaker = women's traditional unpaid work and avocations. Feminism circa 1970s-80s = success = working out of the house, at a job that is traditionally male territory. (See the movie Working Girl)

      Related subject: Men's art (oil paintings) vs. women's "craft" (eg needlework). See the Guerilla Girls, who ask, Do women have to be naked to get into the Met? (even when they ARE oil painters).

  3. Ah. I see. I had never thought of doilies as something one made. I thought of them more as lace or even paper things you put under plates or on coffee tables. No one in my family actually made them, although my grandmother had many lace ones. I also think of doilies as something we used to make Valentines.

    I heard the guerrila girls speak at the Armand Hammer museum early in my grad school career. It was really interesting. Speaking of mandalas, I always read feminism into mandalas. When male Buddhist monks made them and then let them blow away it's a deep symbol or impermanence. But every day the work of women in the home teaches that same lesson (think of your kitchen) and no one thinks there is any meaningful lesson there.

    1. You're so right about intransient women's work! I think I'd be a better chef if every meal was preserved in plastic rather than devoured. I'd have a shelf of my favorite meals to gaze at lovingly.
      As for doilies, the handmade lacy kind are before your time. My grandma's generation!
      Eli directed me to the Guerrilla Girls. They've given me a lot to think about!

  4. I see a small cloth city of brightly patterned yurts.

  5. Yurts!!! You're so right!!! Thanks so much, LynDee!

  6. this is great . have some potholders of a vintage that world make great lids . great post