How to create a filet crochet chart from a photo


I think therefore I am -  René Descartes

Hello!  based on responses from a recent Facebook post, I thought I'd write up a short tutorial on how  to create a custom chart for filet crochet (or knitting) from a personal photo.  As you may know, I had a stroke last year.  This work is for a show I'm building called "Coming Unraveled."  Basically we spend a lifetime building our identites. There is that saying from Cartesian philosophy - " I think, therefore I am."  So the question I pose, is"If you stop thinking, then who the heck are you?!"  This is the bit on coming unravelled.  So I am crocheting a large portrait of myself in filet crochet which when finished.  I will set up a video camera to record a performance of me systematically unraveling the image and creating something new with the image.  That's been my life this past year, a long and difficult journey of accepting that I'm not the same person and that I have to construct a new life and new identity for myself. Make sense so far?

1.  Pick a photo you like. Load it up to photoshop and convert to black and white.   Crop just the bit you want.  Then Posterize it.  All of these commands are under Image.  Posterize is under Image>Adjustments.  Set the posterization to 2. Which will delete all grey tones and give you a crisp black and white image.  Erase any bits that are distracting. Save the image on your desktop. 


2.  Now Go to the website Free Cross Stitch Pattern Maker .  Click on the advanced form link.  Load up your image.  Set the color number to 2. I set my cloth count to 100 and 80 so I'd get a nice large print out that would be easy to read. Load up your image. And voila! Magic happens.


3.  Your print out will come in 4 pages.  So, I just taped them together and have an easy to follow chart for filet crochet. When I've completed my artwork, I might have to make some curtains featuring my crazy cute papillons.  


My New Work Motto

After decades of stitching often on works that took months to complete, I decided it was time to Work Smarter, not Harder. I have found that small works are just as satisfying.  I can work on small works and build them up to one large work, so as a collection is shown, it grows and changes from venue to venue which I find rather exciting.

 Medicine Man, 2015 and ongoing, beaded prescription bottles, photo Larry Sanders. 

Medicine Man, 2015 and ongoing, beaded prescription bottles, photo Larry Sanders. 

Medicine Man is one of those collections.  Every month I take an assortment of prescriptions. Rather than see this endless stream of plastic bottles end up in a landfill, I decided to save them to make into art. Each bottle takes about 3 days to make, so at a couple of hours a day, around 6-8 hours to complete one which isn't so long by my standards.

Working Smarter, Not Harder means creating obtainable goals and then exploring other mediums.  I am working to better understand the technology behind 3d printing, but ultimately I am a craftsman, so I like to have my hand directly involved.  Not sure where I am going with this. Of course, I am still painting a series of gouaches to push the ideas out, so I think I will soon start quilting or working in glass, a medium I have long loved, but never took the time to master. Time will tell.


Yes, one day I will be able to hold my brain....

I can't begin to tell you how excited I am.  I am completely geeking out.  As one who has always loved looking at our inner world, the world that lurks below the skin and only visible with a microscope or some high-end medical technology.  When I had a stroke two years ago, I couldn't resist asking for a copy of my MRI.  It took me a long time to recover to the point that I could emotionally make art using imagery from my body.  I mean really, how many times do you get to see your brain, the driver box, the center of YOU?!  Golden opportunity for an artist, right?!

The odd thing looking at this image is that I can recognize my silhouette taken from the back of my head.  Whoever sat behind me in high school could probably confirm it. You can see my brain from the back end.  It looks huge against my wobbly, skinny neck.  

And then look at this image.  Aren't the eyeballs amazing?! They look like glowing marbles in the image.  You can see how everything connects. 


I have not posted images showing the location of my stroke. I don't want you to focus on the damage, and there was considerable damage, I want you to focus on the miracle of the human body in all its complexity.  There are over 100 BILLION cells in the human brain.  No one has actually counted them and the number hasn't been supported by a peer-reviewed study, but it gives you a sense of the assumed enormity.(For more on this subject.) What strikes me as nearly as incredible is that we can even see the brain.  We are no longer limited to dissections to see inside the human body or dependent on the flat images of an x-ray.  The MRI (magnetic resonance image) makes a detailed image in such detail, that you can get a sort of three-dimensional view of the brain.  

I am geeking out as I have found several students at Washington University who are willing to collaborate with me on attempting to translate the images into code that could be used on a 3D printer to see if we can make a 3D print of my brain.  Imagine being able to hold a replica of your actual brain?! This project will require me first to learn how to operate a 3d printer.  I am hoping classes at the St. Louis Tech Shop will facilitate that hurdle and that the students can do the heavy lifting with the coding. I haven't done anything more than HTML since high school, so I am a little rusty.  A science, engineering, art collaboration!

One last thing, if you are a neurologist,  doctor of medicine or med student looking at these images, please be respectful.  I don't want to hear what you think you may see in them.  I don't need the unnecessary anxiety. I am healthy.  Sharing personal medical information is always a bit risky, but it is the only way to share with you what I am attempting to do.  And to keep from bursting with all my excitement.

ArtPrize 8

All photos taken by Larry Sanders.  Work dates from 2009 - 2016.

Art is not what you see, but what you make others see. Edgar Degas

ArtPrize 8 will mark my third time participating in this international competition.  I will be exhibiting work built over the past 4 years.  Mikros is my visualization of what I tend to think of as the good guys vs the bad guys.  How is it that something as microscopic as pollen can cause so much misery on a seasonal basis? And what is with those leucocytes / white blood cells. One day they are attacking and fighting off influenza and the next day they become a rogue army attacking my joints, in a disease known as rheumatoid arthritis.  It frustrates and yet fascinates me that I'm am controlled by the microscopic.  

My work will be in a group show at Western Michigan University- Grand Rapids.  It will open on 9/21, but close 10/21, several weeks after the rest of ArtPrize closes.   

Western Michigan University - Grand Rapids
200 Ionia Ave SW,
Grand Rapids, MI 49503