Noro Silk Garden Solo is available at Webs and Jimmy Beans Wool, and at your local purveyor of Noro.

Brenda’s Blizzard of Snowflakes

snowflake1.jpg
Dear Kay,
Snowflakes snowflakes snowflakes. That’s what I’m thinking about.
A couple of weeks ago, cruel, merciless Erin tweeted about crocheted snowflakes. Her Tweet sent me into an instant nostalgia spin about the crocheted snowflakes of my youth that my mom found long ago at a Christmas bazaar at Cheekwood.
I have exactly one of those snowflakes left, a dumpy and misshapen one which is the fate of treasured Christmas ornaments, I guess.
I wondered who in the world might still be cranking out crocheted snowflakes.
The answer is Brenda S. Miller of Warrensville, North Carolina.
Etsy makes many things possible, doesn’t it? It let me discover Brenda’s Christmas Shop, where there is a blizzard of snowflakes, drifts of them, gorgeous and intricate.
snowflake2.jpg
I asked Brenda about her snowflakes. She writes:

My grandmother taught me to crochet when I was five years old, although I did not know how to read instructions for several years.
I was always amazed at the snowflakes on Frosty the Snowman cartoons, or in pictures, and even the snowflakes that fall every winter here in the mountains of North Carolina.
I asked God to give me some snowflake designs and I started dreaming about designs and made drawings of them. I have over 1,000 drawings and I can make several snowflakes from each drawing. Now I just sit down and make snowflakes from drawings, from pictures, from just a thought. I made one that has eagles inside the snowflake, I even made some for a lady the other day that wanted snowflakes that were 1 1/2″ or less. To finish the story the set of snowflakes that you ordered, has stitches that are seldom used in snowflakes or anything else any more. I think it is because you can’t make money making snowflakes with complex designs, but I love them and I want to share my new designs with others.

snowflake3.jpg
You can buy a collection of her crocheted snowflake patterns, Brenda’s Snow Storm of Lace. But for the crochet impaired, she makes batches of snowflakes.
In the spirit of the season, I hope you all will give Brenda’s snowflakes as gifts. You can see them right here. They cost about as much as a box of store-bought ornaments, but these are completely handmade, out of string. Something from nothing. I love that so much.
I hasten to point out that snowflakes are the ultimate in ecumenical decor. I’ll keep mine up until the great thaw. Thank you, Brenda, for these spectacular snowflakes.
Love,
Ann

Tags: ,

38 Comments

38 Comments

  1. Snowflake Fever is real and catching! I’m not at all sorry to have inflicted it on you. I crocheted several but have been too lazy to get them all glued flat. This weekend, perhaps–now you’ve inspired me right back!

  2. Amazing. I followed your link to Brenda’s Christmas shop – just amazing.

  3. So let me get this straight: Brenda couldn’t follow pattern instructions until she was 8?
    So amazing. What an excellent match of snowflake artist to snowflake-obsessed patroness.
    My favorite part about crochet snowflakes is the starchiness. We need to use more starch, for more things. Keep starch alive!
    xoxox Kay

  4. Oh, Kay, I think you have found your calling: Stand Up For Starch.

  5. Though you’d hardly know it from my (usually wrinkled) appearance or home decor, I am your comrade in starched arms. LOVE the stuff.
    Why do I think this post might make Brenda into a 24/7 caffeine crazed crochet maniac when her etsy site gets the MDK bump?

  6. Can I hasten to add: many of Brenda’s snowflakes have six points.

  7. Isn’t it weird? I just cut the thread on a snowflake I made (in red, though, not white – we don’t get snow here anyway, so it doesn’t matter what colour the nonexistent snow is in, yes?) and then checked in my Google Reader and there you are, talking about the selfsame things. Weird.
    I made mine from a pattern from this lady: http://www.ravelry.com/designers/deborah-atkinson and she has many lovely patterns, too.
    After several years of crocheting I think I still have so much to learn, I used several new techniques in this pattern.

  8. A few years ago I made a whole bunch of snowflake ornaments for Christmas gifts. My hands hurt for a week afterwards. It’s been long enough that, with your post as inspiration, I’m kind of itching to make them again.

  9. My best friend, Julie, crochets snowflakes every year. I had always wanted some and last year, after nearly 40 years of friendship, a box arrived on my doorstep full of, you guessed it, snowflakes. They are some of my most treasured items.

  10. Beautiful, I agree they should stay up until the thaw. I’m thinking they would look lovely on my sliding glass doors to keep the birds from slamming into them!

  11. My mom used to make crochet snowflakes. Thanks for the nostalgia hit. These are very lovely.

  12. Thank you for this Ann! My Grandma taught me to make these and then I forgot and learned again from an old Martha article. This is wonderful! p.s. my Grandma used sugar water to ‘starch’ them and I remember my Grandpa telling me to never use Grandma’s sugar water method because it brought out the bugs!

  13. Love these, and love Brenda the Master Snowflake Craftswoman.
    You also say, “snowflakes are the ultimate in ecumenical decor.” That reminds me of Dave Barry’s long ago comment on his kid’s winter concert program. The songs were apparently so determinedly ecumenical and weather-related that “a visitor from another planet would assume that the children belonged to the Church of Meteorology.”
    —Dave Barry, Notes on Western Civilization

  14. I remember there was a year when my mom made crocheted snowflakes as Christmas gifts. They were so beautiful. She totally gave herself carpal tunnel though.

  15. I went through a crocheted snowflake faze about 25 years ago. I made them for everyone it seems. The hardest part was pinning out the glue soaked snowflakes – Ouch! I still have about a dozen on my tree and love seeing them each year.

  16. Thank you so much for featuring my snowflakes on your blog. I also need your talent for taking pictures, they are so beautiful! It is my pleasure to crochet snowflakes and I love the comments that people have made about my work. If you stop by my shop and see that I haven’t many snowflakes, be assured that there will be more next year. I list snowflakes all year long.

  17. What beautiful work! Truly lovely.

  18. Oh, such fun!
    The snowflakes are so beautiful….. Thanks for this post.
    :)
    ….going to ETSY

  19. Every year when I unpack my ornaments, there are those snowflakes my Grammy made at the bottom of the box. Brenda’s are beautiful. This post put me in the holiday mood :)

  20. I am happy to report that I am still in possession of many crocheted ornaments from my grandmother including the elusive crocheted oreo, a Christmas favorite. Brenda’s snowflakes are gorgeous and very intricate. Love them!

  21. And, hey Brenda tats too! I use to tat snowflakes for my tree. Then give them away to visitors. Guess who has no tatted snowflakes.
    Brenda’s are lovely. I would keep them up till the Crocus come a calling.

  22. Beautiful. My piano teacher when I was in elementary school made each of her students crocheted snowflakes – one year she even embroidered our names in the center. I still have 1 of those snowflakes and got such a memory rush when I hung it on the tree this year.

  23. Thank you for the posting. I might love to knit, but crochet? A whole other story.
    I’ve just ordered some of Brenda’s snowflakes for family and gifts. What beautiful work!

  24. You mentioned your one original crumpled crocheted snowflake that started this post…you are starching/ gluing/ or sugar watering and blocking said snowflake so it can compete with the newest ones? :) I love buying this kind of thing at bazaars as I don’t have the patience/time/talent to do it for myself…at least not at the price people are selling them for and I do want to encourage them to keep doing it.

  25. My great aunt used to make snowflakes but she didn’t crochet them, she tatted them. I have about half a dozen of them (starched to the nines) and love them. Does anyone even tat anymore?

  26. A thousand years ago I was pregnant and nesting (okay it was 40 years ago) and I made a zillion of these things. Back then (in the olden days) we used some kind of sugar/water mixture to starch the snowflakes. This proved not to be sustainable. I have a couple of them left and they’ve turned a yellowy color and mushy in texture. But they were very satisfying for my nesting needs. Also did a Christmas tree with leftover red velvet, little pom-poms cut off some leftover trim (avocado green, of course) and many little bits of sequins and seeds. That was sustainable — my daughter hangs it now every year in her home. I love that little thing! Thanks for the memories!

  27. Beautiful!! I know someone else who is crocheting snowflakes, popsicletote on Ravelry – but she’s only doing them for friends, I think, and I can’t find any images.
    I’m going to link her to this post, though, she will love it.

  28. My grandmother crocheted and tatted some snowflakes for my mom once. I wonder if she still has any?
    I crocheted a really basic one with Sugar n’ Cream and a big hook recently. Kind of pathetic looking, but I think the potential is there for a quickie holiday hostess gift washcloth paired with some frankincense & myrrh soap or something. (I’m betting someone makes soap that smells like festive like that…)

  29. Gosh, all the tatting comments. I used to tat doilies with my grandmother, we are Jewish, so no ornaments. That said, my husband is catholic, and he loved the snowflakes too, including some that are sort of evocative of the sea (a captains wheel, a starfish), and one that sort of resembles a Jewish star for our windows and our tree. Thanks for the link!

  30. A co-worker and I were just talking about crocheted snowflakes yesterday! We both crochet a little and decided we weren’t up to it. However, about 15 years ago, I tatted a number of snowflakes. I think now I”d be more capable of crocheting them — tatting is hard!

  31. if the thread on your old snowflake isnt compromised, you should be able to make it look a bit better. soak in some warm soapy water with some OxyClean, then rinse. spray-starch it within an inch of its life, and pin out to block.

  32. How magical. I’m scrolling over now to check out her shop!!

  33. Since this is Mason Dixon Knitting, not Mason Dixon Crocheting, I wondered if you were familiar with Knitted Snowflakes by Margaret Heathman. Sadly, it appears to be out of print, but if you ever happen to run across it, it is great. I’ve been making snowflakes out of it for years.

  34. For our first Christmas tree I bought some tiny hooks and white thread and announced that I was making “snowflakes” for our tree. My husband wrinkled up his nose and actually had the nerve to say that WASN’T going to look good, but I persisted. Once they were on the tree (vigorously starched) he admitted he had been grievously wrong and that they were his favorite ornaments that year and many years afterward.

  35. Elizabet Zimmerman’s “Knitter’s Almanac” has a chapter on knitted ornaments. I don’t remember snowflakes, but i do remember knitted stars.
    LoveDaine

  36. Thank you so much for turning us on to Brenda! It was the final touch on my Christmas shopping. Photos don’t do justice to Brenda’s work…She got my snowflakes to me so quickly I almost fainted. Happy happy joy joy!

  37. At one time I had over 1,000 different (to the best of my knowledge) patterns for crocheted snowflakes. I had crocheted about 100. During a move I lost about half of them. I’ve been able to find some, but not all, of them. My goal was to have a tree decorated solely with crocheted snowflakes.
    I didn’t use starch to stiffen them; I used a mixture of half white glue and half water.
    I also collect other snowflake ornaments — crystal, silver, pewter and so on.

  38. I bought a number of snowflake items from Etsy this year (not these I am sorry to say). There are a ton of beautiful quilled snowflake ornaments that are thrillingly gorgeous.