An excellent adventure

If you should ever find yourself, as I did, driving the length of Alabama on a sunny day in June in search of a crochet adventure, you might find it equal parts amusing and incomprehensible when you drive over one of the many bridges and read the following: Bridge may ice in cold weather.

No doubt this is true, but when the temperature is a balmy 92ยบ with the mercury climbing, it is hard to imagine that the bridge you are crossing has ever seen ice that wasn’t from a spilled cold drink.

Such was the kind of weather I encountered recently when I had the opportunity to meet Melody MacDuffee, creator of the overlay crochet technique.

Melody MacDuffee’s Alabama adventure began when she moved to Mobile as a child. Her crochet adventure began three years later when she and her sister taught themselves to crochet, and crochet has figured prominently in Ms. MacDuffee’s life since then.

One delightful development Ms. MacDuffee has brought to the world of craft is a technique known as Overlay Crochet. I first became acquainted with it through a correspondence course that was, at one time, available through the Crochet Guild of America (CGOA).

So, when recently had the opportunity to meet Ms. MacDuffee, I was delighted that she allowed me to take this photograph of her first piece of Overlay Crochet:

overlay crochet motif
Melody Macduffee’s first ever overlay crochet motif

This motif forms the basis for the first 14 rounds of the Pillow Cover design featured in Crochet Master Class by Jean Leinhauser and Rita Weiss.

From this initial design, Ms. MacDuffee developed this medallion:

overlay crochet medallion
An overlay crochet medallion fitted over a round belt buckle

which you can see in even greater detail here:

overlay crochet medallion detail
Detail of an overlay crochet medallion

Ms. MacDuffee’s adventures in crochet eventually lead her to make crochet jewelry and to incorporate beads into her work:

overlay crochet setting for stone
Stone in an overlay crochet setting

overlay crochet amulet bag
A beaded overlay crochet amulet bag

As she began to publish patterns of this technique, one of the publications in Bead & Button, found its way to Somanya-Krobo in Ghana, West Africa, where her design caught the eye of someone there.

As a result of this, an inquiry was made: Would Ms. MacDuffee be able to come to Africa to teach them her crafting technique?

The letter of inquiry arrived at a fortuitous moment in Ms. MacDuffee’s life, and she was able to go to Ghana and from there, she has embarked on yet another crafting journey.

From this, Soul of Somanya was born, a project whose mission it is to develop sustainable employment in this far-flung corner of the world where opportunities are often limited.

Beginning with a mortar, pestle, and glass shards, these Krobo beads are fashioned from the available materials:

Krobo beads
Krobo beads

It is unlikely that the twelve-year-old Melody MacDuffee could see that her passion for crochet would lead her to this remote corner of the world working to help create a sustainable economy for people half a world away, but that fateful day that she and her sister decided to learn to crochet, a die was cast and an adventure begun.

If you want to incorporate Overlay Crochet into your own life adventure, you can find the resources learn this technique in Crochet Master Class (edited by Jean Leinhauser and Rita Weiss) or in the Leisure Arts publication #4014 Crochet Overlay Jewelry. These patterns can either be worked in the materials suggested or with any worsted weight yarn and a K hook.

And if you want to incorporate these delightful glass beads into your craft work, you can get to the link to buy them by clicking here.

8 thoughts on “An excellent adventure

  1. Thank you for introducing this beautiful work to this reader. The jewelry should be in fashion magazines!

  2. wow beautiful Mandala like patterns especially on her original piece.. so inspiring…. just goes to show you – where there’s a will there’s a way!
    reading your post is my favorite way to start each day! always sets a good tone….

  3. Currently working on the overlay crochet cushion cover in ‘Crochet Masterclass’ and it is a bit tricky but I’ve almost finished it. Working through a stash of coloured embroidery thread I had spare so using different colours to pattern. I’m on ravelry (username mrsmakedoandmend). Enjoyed reading your post.

  4. I am impressed with this her. Age 12 and she stock with it, not knowing she would end up helping a whole community. VERY IMPRESSIVE.
    I love how it looks like a Mosaic window in a church.
    I tried the bead link and it doesn’t work.
    Your posts are great to read.

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