Karen C.K. Ballard, Featured Crochet Designer 2022

You’ve arrived at the annual NatCroMo Designer Blog Tour 2022! It’s a virtual celebration of National Crochet Month with new blog content daily throughout March, including featured crochet designers, pattern showcases, free patterns, coupons, discounts, giveaways, and more. This year’s theme is Pawprints on Our Hearts, so we’ll talk about our pets – furry, feathered, and scaly!

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About Karen C.K. Ballard

Karen C.K. Ballard wearing WWII Knitting Hat

Today’s featured designer on our NatCroMo Designer Blog Tour 2022 is Karen C.K. Ballard of Threadwinder. Karen is an amazing asset to the crochet community. She is first and foremost a needlework historian, but she is also an amazing crochet artist, often incorporating rocks and beads into her work. Karen has also taught crochet and is active in writing about and giving presentations on needlework and textile history. Karen has published articles on needlework history in: CGOA‘s Chain Link Newsletter, PieceWork Magazine, and the Center for Knit & Crochet‘s blog. Additionally, she serves on the Crochet Guild of America’s (CGOA) Information Committee, fielding inquiries that people have written to CGOA and has provided a similar service to the Crocheters Anonymous FB page.

On our blog today, in addition to showcasing some of her crochet stunning crochet necklaces, for our blog tour theme – Pawprints on our Hearts – Karen tells us about pets throughout her life and shares photos of her cat Feodora who she had for 17 wonderful years.

We appreciate our NatCroMo designers so much! They’ve so graciously shared their time (and often a special goodie) with us, let’s show them some love! ❤️

  • You can visit Karen (Threadwinder) on Facebook where she regularly shares the most amazing crochet and textile projects, artwork, and exhibits by creators and artists from around the world.
Karen C.K. Ballard at the US premier exhibition of Prudence Mapstone’s collaborative “50 Years of Flower Power” exhibited at the ArtFactory in Manassas, VA.

Karen’s focus is very different than most of Crochetville’s designers. Although she does do some designing, her focus is primarily on researching and writing about crochet. However, during October to early December 2021 she also sponsored the US premier exhibition of Prudence Mapstone’s collaborative 32’x5′ “50 Years of Flower Power” at the ArtFactory in Manassas, VA. This exhibition also included some of Karen’s (mostly freestyle) crochet, beading, and weaving.

CGOA Hall of Fame 2020
Karen was inducted into the Jean Leinhauser Crochet Guild of America Hall of Fame in 2020. A well-deserved honor for a person who is such a treasure in the crochet community!

Karen’s cat Feodora (aka: Fio, Fio McMeo, or FiFi).

Karen’s Pets

My father disliked cats, so I grew up with parakeets and dogs. One of our parakeets, Blue Boy, learned a few words and used to play a form of tag with my siblings and me.

Our first dog was an English Springer Spaniel named Fritz Wolfgang who was a gentle dog, but totally devoted to my father. Fritzie passed while we lived in Berlin, Germany and we got a German breed of dog: a Kleine Münsterländer Förster Hund (in English: Small {about the same size as the springer, but more slender build} Hunting dog from the town of Münster) named Baron Von Teckenburg. Baron was an even gentler dog than Fritzie; Baron refused to choose a favorite. My siblings and I would form a circle around the living room and all call Baron at the same time. The dog didn’t know what to do, going from sibling to sibling for a few seconds each, all the while wagging his tail.

As an adult, during my career, with a long commute and long work hours, we decided a dog would be too lonely, so we decided to get a cat. I got Feodora (aka: Fio, Fio McMeo, or FiFi) a small black American Shorthair, when she was 2 and had her 17 years of her long life. I was the one who usually fed her, and I played with yarn and beads, so naturally, I was her favorite, although she loved all humans. She was my crochet and beading buddy, always laying on my right leg (didn’t want to stay on the left leg!) overseeing what I was doing. I used to walk her on a leash outdoors. Although when she first wore the leash, she would just lay down–refusing to budge. But eventually my puppy-cat loved the leash, even begged me to put it on her so she could prance around the neighborhood.

Favorite Crochet Reference

What is one of your favorite crochet reference books or websites that is a go-to source of crochet information for you?

My favorites are my oldest ones, those dating from 1829 to the 1860s. After that, I like the crochet histories and design books like Lis Paludan’s Crochet: History & Technique, Daina Taimina’s Crocheting Adventures with the Hyperbolic Plane, and Ellie Baker & Susan Goldstine’s Crafting Conundrums: Puzzles and Patterns for the Bead Crochet Artist.

Gears Neckpiece (front) {Unpublished crochet design by Karen C.K. Ballard}
Gears Neckpiece (back) {Unpublished crochet design by Karen C.K. Ballard}

Design Showcase:
Gears Neckpiece

Design name: Gears Neckpiece

Not yet published: It was to be published in Michelle Maks’ Mainly Crochet, but sadly she went out of business. I may publish the pattern on my website someday.

About the design: My version of steampunk neckwear.

On Golden Sands {Crochet design by Karen C.K. Ballard, published as an artwork}

Design Showcase:
On Golden Sands

Design name: On Golden Sands

Published: Published as an artwork (no pattern available) by the International Free Form Fiberarts Guild in Ocean – The Color of Water, Fiberart Works by 60 Free Form Artists (2015).

About the design: Includes bead-crochet “sand” and “starfish” as well as beading in various off-loom techniques.

About the Book:

“In 2015, members of the International Freeform Fiberarts Guild were given the theme Ocean/the Color of Water for the Annual Challenge. 50 artists participated, including 13 first timers, interpreting the theme as it inspired them. The range of art created matches the depth of the theme.

“They were encouraged to share their inspiration as well as the actual artwork.

“None of the artists saw any of the other’s work until the online gallery went live.”

NC Necklace {Prizewinning crochet design by Karen C.K. Ballard}

Design Showcase:
NC Necklace

Design name: NC Necklace (see: threadwinder.info and CGOA 2012 Design Competition Results)

Not published: No pattern available.

About the design: Prior to taking Prudence Mapstone‘s Freeform Jewelry class at the 2011 CGOA Chain Link Conference, I went to a nearby gem mine and found raw crystals/minerals. Prudence gave me permission to use her techniques to do my own thing, incorporating the gems I had found. This necklace won first prize in the Small Wonders Category of the 2012 CGOA Design Contest.

Karen’s NatCroMo Special

In support of her research, Karen collects old and vintage needlework publications, inevitably accumulating duplicates. Sometimes others donate publications to her, knowing that if she can’t add them to her collection, she will find them good homes. Rather than deal with the headaches of trying to sell them, Karen prefers to offer her duplicates to people whom she knows will appreciate them, the participants in Crochetville’s NatCroMo blog tour.

Lot #1 The “Newer” (1935-2005) books
Lot #2 Hardouin & Beading books
Lot #3 Early 1900s Booklets

Karen is giving away 3 lots of vintage publications, which are duplicates from her collection. The giveaway will be hosted on the Crochetville blog, and runs from March 31, 9:00 am through April 9, 9:00 pm Central Time. Visit this link to enter the giveaway: https://crochetville.com/vintage-needlework-publications-giveaway-natcromo-2022

Follow Karen Online

Here’s where you can connect with Karen online!

Thank you for joining us on the NatCroMo Designer Blog Tour 2022! Today is the is the last day of March and National Crochet Month, but there are still discounts, coupons, and giveaways going on! Please stay with us as we wrap up all the fun over the coming days here on the blog and @Crochetville on Facebook.

Explore Blog Tour Featured Designers

1 thought on “Karen C.K. Ballard, Featured Crochet Designer 2022”

  1. Thank you, Donna, for all your hard work putting the Natcromo 2022 blog tour together! And thank you, Karen, for your wonderful prize donations!


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