I am a country girl at heart, having grown up near the very small town of Stilesville, Indiana. I had an amazing, happy childhood with my family. We lived on the 10 acres of land in a house our parents built. My childhood days were largely spent playing outdoors, riding the tractor, sleeping in the tree house and roasting marshmallows on a campfire. We also enjoyed learning the names of trees and flowers from nature guides while camping, doing 4-H projects, working in the garden and otherwise enjoying rural Indiana life. My parents taught us the value of hard work and instilled in us solid Midwestern values.
My artistic mother taught me everything she could about art, especially how to draw and paint. Along with my sisters, she taught us how to knit and crochet (my favorite!) in the family room around the fireplace. The dining room was our art room and there was always a fun project to work on.
I met the love of my life in high school, and Kurt and I got married after he graduated from college, then moved to Florida. After a year, he joined the U.S. Air Force, became an officer and then a USAF pilot. During that time, we saw a lot of the world, lived in several different states and enjoyed an amazing four-year stint in Germany. Along the way, we had two beautiful daughters; watched them grow up; now have a son-in-law and have recently been blessed with our first granddaughter.
I love designing unique, original patterns with complex designs. I think my art reflects my personality, which is a tad crazy, humorous (or so I think), happy-go-lucky and energetic. Years ago, my friend Jennifer gave me the necessary encouragement and confidence to finally begin to market my creations. She noticed that I was creating an abundance of work without an outlet for it, which really hadn’t even dawned on me until she pointed it out. On several occasions, she suggested I open an Etsy shop online. I finally looked into it and worked up the courage to just go for it. I’ve had an Etsy shop for about 10 years now in which my specialty and passion is creating crocheted Lace Stones, though I have also made and sold other items such as jewelry, clay beads, baby clothing, original drawings, cards and rubber stamps of my artwork.
Our home is where I dream up, design and create most of my work. To be honest, my studio is wherever I am. I use the dining room to sew and create jewelry. But I crochet wherever I am, and that could easily be in the living room on the couch, watching TV by the fireplace with my hubby, on an airplane, in bed, in the car … anywhere.
Artistically, I feel that crochet is my true voice, my native language.
When I am “sizing up” a stone to crochet, I’ll set it on a table to see which way the stone lies best. To me, each stone has a distinctly noticeable back and front, top and bottom. The flatter side will become the bottom of the finished creation. My favorites are very symmetrical stones. Some might think this odd, but I find it exciting to go to landscaping companies or nurseries and dig my way through large bins of stones looking for very smooth, beautifully colored stones that are as symmetric as possible. I also love finding stones that have some very unique features like holes or spots, or that sparkle in the sunshine. I consider these ‘gems.’ I visually match the stones up with the patterns that are floating in my mind and those are the ones that come home with me.
When designing a pattern, I envision the finished look and take into consideration how the design will stretch when crocheting the last few tightening rows. I rarely draw the pattern first. Most of my patterns are left unwritten but instead are just logged in my mind. I create and design the patterns as I go, letting them evolve as they choose depending on the shape and size of the stone. I study the stone first, choose the coordinating thread color(s) and begin, not always knowing if the idea will work out. Probably the most difficult thing to accomplish is precisely placing leaves, buttons, beads, fringe or ruffles on the very edge of a stone, due to the way the design stretches. This takes a while to master, and is much more art than science. It’s all about tension, precision and placement. I feel the design should fit the stone very tightly, so that it doesn’t move. The last few stitches may become intense, as the pattern needs to “grip” the stone tightly. If I see a mistake, I am not afraid to pull out hours of tiny, tedious work to get the creation to come out just the way I have envisioned it. I strive for perfection and even one mistake really bothers me. I like to challenge myself with projects that are increasingly complex.
I am profoundly inspired by nature. I love getting lost in it and all the incredible artistry of God’s work — the patterns, the colors and the intricacy. My all-time favorite flower, the peony, is a great example. If you hold one in your hand and look at it closely you can see how the layers are perfectly aligned, with each amazing petal ruffled on the edge, and the way that each petal curves and lies perfectly behind the next. Some peonies have an outer layer that is larger and smoother and seems to encase all the inner layers. And let’s talk about the colors … some are the palest pink ever, some look ombre, or variegated in color, some have dark centers with pale edges and some are just the opposite. The list goes on, with infinite possibilities. Each one is completely unique.
“Let all that you do be done with love.”
— 1 Corinthians 16:14
I find it all incredibly intoxicating. That probably explains why so many of my patterns have a distinctly floral theme. I believe that everyone has a God-given talent, though it can sometimes take a while to reveal itself. Give yourself time to discover your passion then follow it to discover your destiny.
Maybe out of nostalgia I still use the dining room instead of a studio for art.
FREE LACE STONE ORIGINAL CROCHET PATTERN
by Monica Johnson
The basics of how to create a pattern of this type for various size stones.
beg – begin (ning)
ch – chain
dtr – double triple crochet
sc – single crochet
sk – skip stitch
sl st – slip stitch
sp – space
st – stitch
tr – triple
If crocheting a large stone (3 or more inches) use hook #8 and thread size #20. For a pattern like this, create a long enough chain to go around your stone tightly at the point where you want the pattern to lay. The chain count is different for each stone. The number of chains here is not important because it will be covered with sc’s. For this stone, (size 6 x 4 inches, 11/2 inches high) I chained 45, then (making sure the chain is not twisted) sl st in the first chain to form a ring.
Row 1: Ch 1, sc in the ring as many times as you can without twisting or crowding the stitches, count the stitches along the way and make this number divisible by 5 or 10, whatever you envision your pattern to need. Mine is divisible by 5, then sl st in the first sc.
Row 2: (In this row you will be increasing by 1 sc in every 5th or 10th st, due to the shape of the stone.) Ch 1 in the same st, sc (when you count the stitches include this st in your count) and then when you get to the 5th or the 10th st put 2 scs, repeat this around. Size the ring to your stone along the way to see if it looks like the right size. Sl st in the first sc.
Row 3: (For this design) Ch 5 (beg tr, ch 1), sk next sc, (tr in next sc, ch 1) around, sl st in 4th ch of beg, ch 5.
Row 4: Ch 1, sc in same st. Sc in ch 1 sp, (sc in tr, sc in ch 1 sp) around, sl st to first sc.
Row 5: Ch 1, (sc in each sc) around, sl st in first sc. (Size the pattern to your stone along the way; adjust stitches according to your stone size.)
Row 6: (My vision for this design was to have a symmetrical, larger design through the center of the stone. For this design I’ve sectioned off the stitches into 3 larger rows of stitches on the stone, then finished it with the smaller design on the other side of the stone.) Ch 9, (beg. dtr, ch 4) sk next 3 scs, dtr in next sc, ch 4, sk next 3 scs, (dtr in next sc, ch 4), around, sl st in 5th ch of beg, ch 9.
Row 7: Ch 1, sc in same st, 3 scs in next ch 4 sp, (sc in next dtr, 3 scs in next ch 4 sp) around, sl st in first sc.
Row 8: Ch 1, sc in first sc and in each sc around, sl st to first sc.
Row 9: Repeat rows 6, 7, and 8, twice.
Row 10: Ch 4 (beg tr, ch 1) sk next sc, (tr in next sc, ch 1, sk next sc) around, sl st to 3rd ch of beg 4. Now, this is where the fun begins, place the lace onto the stone with the beginning and ending part in the center of the back on the stone. The rest of the pattern will be crocheted onto the stone, rotating the stone as you go.
Row 11: Ch 1, sc in same st, sc in next ch 1 sp, (sc in next tr, sc in next ch 1 sp) around, sl st in first sc.
Row 12: Ch 1, sc in same st, sk next sc, (sc in next sc, sk next sc) around, sl st to first sc.
If after row 12 is complete and your lace doesn’t fit very tightly to the stone, then create another tightening row, repeating row 12.
If you are happy with how the lace fits your stone, finish off. After the sl st to the first sc, cut thread about 3 inches long and knot 3 times into the end of your pattern, then trim the thread close but not too close. Bravo — project complete.
CROCHET TIP: For beginners I would suggest starting out learning to crochet with yarn. Maybe a scarf or baby blanket would be a good first project. After you feel you’ve mastered yarn, then move onto thread. Once you feel you have tension mastered, and if you want to challenge yourself, move onto #20 thread and then #80 thread.