The Big Acorn Race

A Squirrel Picnic Story with Crochet Patterns and Projects


Big Acorn Race Update: Podge’s Garden

Podge in her gardenI have had so much fun crocheting everything for Podge’s garden over the last few months. This particular project stretched my crochet skills to the max. Every detail, from the pumpkins to the strawberries, was done freeform, without a pattern. I just made it all up as I went along. Having just finished creating the patterns for the book, this was actually a welcome change. I really enjoyed the playfulness and freedom of winging it and not having to worry about keeping track of a pattern. Although, I did jot down notes for each plant in case anyone is interested in crocheting a garden of their own. Let me know if you’d like to see this and I’ll work on a pdf download to release after the book early next year.

My practice of miniature crochet last year really came in handy, as each one of the plants in Podge’s garden is pretty tiny. I used mostly sock-weight yarn and a size B-1 hook or smaller. Here are the yarns I used:

Soil: Plymouth Merino Superwash DK in Brown
Pumpkins and Carrots: Lion Brand Bonbons Beach Collection Orange, and Plymouth Merino Superwash DK in Peapod
Strawberries: Lion Brand Bonbons Beach Collection Red, White, and Yellow, and Knit Picks Wool of the Andes Sport in Grass
Lettuce: Knit Picks Stroll Fingering in Peapod
Cornstalks: Lion Brand Bonbons Beach Collection Yellow, Lion Brand Bonbons Nature Collection Green, and Knit Picks Wool of the Andes Sport in Grass
Sunflowers: Lion Brand Bonbons Beach Collection Yellow, Lion Brand Bonbons Nature Collection Brown, and Knit Picks Stroll Fingering in Peapod
Tall ‘n’ Fast Flowers: Patons Grace in Sunkissed, Orchid, Lemon Lime, Lotus, Aquifer, and Snow, and Plymouth Merino Superwash DK in Greenlake
Watering Can: Lion Brand Bonbons Beach Collection Turquoise

Now that we have those details out of the way, Podge would like to show you around her garden… Continue reading


See How Podge’s Flowers Grow!

Tall n Fast Flower Cycle by Jennifer OlivarezIn the Big Acorn Race, three little squirrels named Hodge, Podge, and Eric compete to see who can get an acorn out of a tree first, without climbing the tree. Each has to come up with a unique and creative way to get the job done. Of all the tricks they try, my favorite solution has to be Podge’s. It’s clever and simple. She grabs her packet of Tall ‘n’ Fast seeds, plants one in a pot full of soil, and sits back to watch her flower grow.

This past weekend has been spent crocheting Podge’s flower pot and the many stages of growth of a Tall ‘n’ Fast flower. First I crocheted 5 yellow flower pots and 5 brown circles that would become the dirt. Then I shaped 12-gauge wire to form the base (inside each  flower pot) and stem. I used cardboard circles inside the pots to add stability. After assembling the first two pots and adding a little sprout to the second one, it was time to crochet the flowers. First I crocheted the blossom which was a lot of fun. I had no plan in mind when I first set out to crochet it. It just sort of took shape as it went — magical! Then I crocheted the flowers themselves in 3 different sizes using the patterns in the book. The smaller flower is crocheted using the motif pattern for the Seed Packet Phone Case. The larger flowers are made using the actual Tall ‘n’ Fast Flower motif pattern. I haven’t assembled the final flower that Podge uses to reach the acorn yet. You’ll just have to wait for the book to see for yourself.

In the meantime, enjoy this gif I made out of all the flowers and pots that I crocheted this weekend. My, Podge, how your flowers grow!



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Big Acorn Race Update: Crocheting the Story

Dragonfly by Jennifer OlivarezThe next few weeks will be super busy for me as I attempt to crochet everything needed to tell the story of the Big Acorn Race. This includes all the props and even some of the characters themselves. It seems like I’m crocheting everywhere I go. I’ve been crocheting on the bus, on my lunch breaks, in line at the store. But if you know me, you’re probably thinking Weren’t you doing that before the book came along anyway? Yeah, you’re right. But now I feel like I’m crocheting with a purpose. Although it’s felt a little frenzied at times, so far I’ve been successful not to let the pressure take the fun out of it. That’s very important, you know.

And let me tell you, I’ve gotten a lot done! I even remembered to photograph some of my work to share with you. Continue reading

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Big Acorn Race Update: Time to Test the Patterns

Tall n Fast Flower Pillow (Kate)

Tall n Fast Flower Pillow (Kate)

Working with pattern testers for the first time has been a wonderful, eye opening, humbling, and gratifying experience.

When I started the book, I thought that I wouldn’t need to have my patterns tested. Where would I go to find people who would test them? Would anyone be willing to do it for free? I don’t have much money to spare, but I realized I could acknowledge them in the book and even send them a copy when it came out. But would that be enough compensation? I was really worried that it would be an imposition to ask someone to lend their talents and so much of their time for so little reward.

Squirrel Accessories: Baseball Cap and Apron (Grace)

Squirrel Accessories: Baseball Cap and Apron (Grace)

But as has happened so many times before with my blog, I was utterly amazed by the outpouring of support. Every single crocheter I approached was more than just willing to test a pattern or two for me, they were excited to be a part of my project.

Asking for help has always been a little difficult for me. I was brought up to “do it yourself” with what you have on hand, but as I get older I’m realizing there’s a much easier way. It’s called community and friendship. It’s a blessing to have people in your life that you can count on, people who will support you and lend a hand whenever you need one. And it’s a blessing to be able to be there for them in their times of need. What can I say, I feel so lucky to have my friends.

I’m also doubly blessed that my friends are also such talented artists! Let me introduce you to my fabulous group of pattern testers… Continue reading


Big Acorn Race Update: New Beginnings

Podge's ApronThese past two months have been such a whirlwind for me. I had the goal to get all the patterns for the book to the pattern testers by the middle of July and to get all the preliminary text files and photos for most of the patterns  to my wonderful friend, the super talented Sylvie by the end of last week. It was a tall order, but somehow I did it! Continue reading

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Big Acorn Race Update: Tall ‘n’ Fast Flowers

The past six weeks have been all about flowers – well, one flower in particular. The Tall ‘n’ Fast Flower is a very special one that is native to Squirrel Picnic. In “The Big Acorn Race” story, Podge has to grow a flower, fast. Luckily she has a packet of seeds that will do the trick. Sure enough, her Tall ‘n’ Fast Flower grows both tall and fast. You’ll have to excuse my cryptic description there – I just don’t want to spoil the story.What I can tell you is that just like many of the items in the story, there will be patterns to make your own Tall ‘n’ Fast Flowers. This month I designed a Tall ‘n’ Fast Flower barrette, wall hanging, and 14” round pillow. I even designed a seed packet phone case! So far these are my favorite patterns from the book. I hope you enjoy these photos of them…

Tall n Fast Flower RGB IMG_8429 Continue reading

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The Big Acorn Race Update: We’ve Got a Cover!

Squirrel Picnic

This has been an exciting month! It’s also been extraordinarily busy. (Isn’t it funny how the two always seem to go hand in hand?) I promise to write a separate post about designing and creating all the new patterns, working with pattern testers, choosing fonts, and hashing out what will go in the techniques section. But for now I just really want to share with you something near and dear to my heart, something I’ve dreamed of for over two years now… we have a cover for Squirrel Picnic’s very first story and pattern book!The Big Acorn Race by Jennifer OlivarezBig love and thanks go out to Sylvie Abecassis for designing the graphics and working her magic on my photos. I am always amazed by the talent she possesses. She has a big heart, a wealth of design knowledge and skill, and a generous and caring spirit. I can’t thank her enough for this beautiful gift.


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The Big Acorn Race Update: Oak Leaves and Acorns

Squirrel Picnic

May was an unusually wet month for Colorado. The state prides itself on its 300 days of sunshine, but this month we had only 3 days without some form of precipitation. Rainy days are perfect for crocheting and I crocheted up a storm all month long!

I focused on designing, crocheting, and photographing the first four patterns and projects for the book. These include an oak leaf motif, an oak leaf clutch, an amigurumi acorn, and an oak leaf and acorn garland.

I also created the storyboard and began laying out a mock up of the book, starting with these four patterns.

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Big Acorn Race Update: Getting My Squirrels in a Row

Squirrel Picnic

Hodge helps me sew up the seam on the last tree. Hodge helps me sew up the seam on the last tree.

April has gone by in a blur. I couldn’t tell you where the time went. My full-time job has been keeping me so busy that I am surprised when I have the energy to work on the blog or the book in the evenings. I have a feeling I will need to take some time off this summer to get all my squirrels in a row.

Tree Trunk I played with freeform crochet to create the exposed roots on the trees.

This month – in the car, on the bus, in parks, and mostly on weekends – I concentrated on finishing up the set and creating the first new pattern for the book.

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Big Acorn Race Update: Backgrounds and Foregrounds

Squirrel Picnic

The first full month of work on Squirrel Picnic’s Big Acorn Race is ending, and I am pleased to say that progress has been made. My main goal for this month was to make the backgrounds for the main set for the scenes in the book. As you may recall, the objective is for everything in the book to be crocheted, including the grass and sky.

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