The Big Acorn Race

A Squirrel Picnic Story with Crochet Patterns and Projects


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2016 Tall ‘n’ Fast Flower CAL Closes, Winners Announced

Thank you to everyone who participated in the first annual Tall ‘n’ Fast Flower Pillow Crochet Along. I had such a wonderful time watching your pillows transform each week from spiral centers to colorful flowers in bloom.

The crochet along ran from early April through May, during which time I sent out 2-4 page pdf newsletters with tips and tricks that expand upon the instructions included for the pattern in my book The Big Acorn Race. Some special highlights included a coloring template of the pillow front to help crocheters choose colors for their pillows in advance and a brand-new pattern for a pillow back done with a spiral.

Let’s take a look at the finished pillows…

It was exciting to see the great variety of color combinations. From the vibrant to the subtle and delicate–each is so beautiful and original! From what I gather, everyone enjoyed most the spiral and the rounds that create the stripes and petals. Those are my favorite rounds too.

The back of the pillow is just as much fun to do as the front! I could tell that participants really enjoyed adding their own style to the backs of their pillows. Several participants chose the new spiral pattern for the back, and I was excited to see the magic created by combinations of colors with slight tonal variations and of solid colors with variegated yarns. Some participants chose to repeat the front for the back as well. I need to try this one myself. It looks so cool! Others created their pillow backs in bands of alternating colors. I love the variety!

And I was really pleased to hear that everyone seemed to learn something new from my tutorials. It’s my pleasure to share what I’ve learned over the years and to do my little part in helping to grow the popularity of crochet.

It has been very exciting to see everyone’s personality and creativity shining through in their pillows. I couldn’t pick a winner if I tried! So, as I usually do, I’ll let the Random Number Generator pick two winners for me. (I placed the names of participants who sent or posted photos of their completed pillows into a spreadsheet. Participants who filled out a survey received an additional entry.) And the winners are…

2016 CAL Winners

Congratulations Emily Simone and Katy Board!

Emily and Katy, to claim your prizes, please email me at squirrelpicnic(at)gmail(dot)com with a mailing address.

Thanks to everyone who participated in this first ever Squirrel Picnic crochet along. I had such a good time, and I hope you did too. Even if you weren’t able to enter the drawing, I’d love to see your completed pillows. Would you share a photo with me? I’ll even add it to this gallery if you like, so everyone can see your handiwork.

It’s been fun meeting you all and getting to know you better. See you around the picnic!


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Tips for Crocheting Rounds 14-19 of the Tall ‘n’ Fast Flower Pillow

In the next 3 rounds of our Tall ‘n’ Fast Flower Pillows we crochet the petals, a background for them, and a round to hold them flat. All while adding even more color and fun!

Rnd 14: Making Petals

Starting this round is probably the most difficult part. When you change color by pulling up a loop of the new color as your first chain, it’s rather hard to keep this chain from getting longer when you have to reach 3 stitches away to get to your first stitch. To help hold your chain in place until you are able to secure it by weaving the tail in, make the 1st petal over the tail end of your yarn. Position the tail so that it is just above and behind the stitch you are working into. Insert your hook and crochet the stitch around the tail. The tail will be enveloped by your stitch. This is also a handy trick to speed up weaving in ends. If you crochet your first 3-5 stitches like this whenever you are changing yarn at the start of a round, all you will have to do at the end is weave the rest of the tail in a different direction to secure it.

Crochet over the tail

When you get to the end of the round, join with a slip stitch to the 1st stitch.

join with slst to 1st st

Rnd 15: Filling in Behind the Petals

We will be working into the stitches of Rnd 13 (both the stitches we skipped and the bar of the hdc we crocheted the petals into) and the sc stitches of Rnd 14, which occur between each petal.

The key here is to hold the petals forward so you can access these skipped stitches from behind the petals.

fold the petals forward

The next stitch gives us an interesting situation, as it is the one we used in Rnd 14 to make our petal. The stitch itself is already occupied (pretty cramped actually), so we will need to crochet into the only available loop: the bar of this stitch. Hdc stitches have something called a “back bar” or a third loop below the front and back loops we usually use.

You can even use this technique of crocheting into the back bar to create a fabric that resembles knit stitches. Pretty neat!

After working into the next skipped stitches, work into the next single crochet of Rnd 14.

2 dc into the sc between petals

Continue the pattern around as instructed.

This round creates a vibrant backdrop to our petals, really making them stand out!

Rnd 16: To Hold the Petals Down

To make sure that everything lines up perfectly in this round, be sure to work your first stitch in the next tr stitch and not the tr at the base of your initial chain. (If you don’t do this your petals will lean to the right.)

crochet into the next stitch to get lined up

Your next stitch should be directly behind the chain space of the closest petal. Into this stitch and the chain space together, work 2 hdc. This holds your petals down neatly (and provides the increases needed for this round).

Repeat the pattern around. After crocheting into the chain space on the last petal, you should have just 5 hdc remaining. This is because we started with that 1 lone hdc in the beginning that got us all lined up.

Join with slst to End Rnd 16

Ta-da we’re almost done with the front of our pillow.

Rnds 17-19: Wrapping Up Our Pillow Front

These final rounds are like a breath of fresh air — so nice and easy. So sit back and enjoy some refreshingly mindless crochet. Well, you do have to count, but otherwise it’s a piece of cake. See you next time when we crochet the Pillow Back!


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The reviews are in… everyone loves The Big Acorn Race!

The Big Acorn Race is a delightful story filled with whimsy, magic, and fun. It inspires the imagination… and then gives readers the tools to crochet the characters so that they can let that imagination run wild. Original, unique, and unbelievably adorable!!” —Kathryn Vercillo of Crochet Concupiscence

“In The Big Acorn Race, Jennifer Olivarez tells a charming story set in a cheerful crocheted world, and offers fun projects with friendly illustrations and lots of step-by-step photos.” —Suzann Thompson, author of Cute Crochet World

The Big Acorn Race is super cute and extremely creative. I was particularly impressed with the level of detail and photography in Jennifer’s instructions!” —Twinkie Chan, author of Twinkie Chan’s Crocheted Abode à la Mode

“We love how The Big Acorn Race not only tells a heartwarming story but also inspires readers to create a mini crochet universe of their own.” —Liz & Jimmy Reed of Cuddles and Rage

“The story of The Big Acorn Race is cute and just the right length for kids with short attention spans. And what kid wouldn’t love to have the characters of their book to play with? Jennifer’s instructions are so very well done and easy to follow. I just can’t wait to pull out my crochet hook and yarn and get started!” —Lois Weaver of Zo Zo Fiber Arts

The Big Acorn Race by Jennifer Olivarez

A whimsical storybook and crochet pattern book in one!

The story takes readers on an adventure in a colorful crochet world. Here we follow three little squirrels, Hodge and Podge and their friend Eric, as they compete to see who can get an acorn out of a tree first. It sounds simple, but there’s a catch: they aren’t allowed to climb the tree. They each must use their wit and imagination to find an alternative solution. What will they invent and who will win?

But the fun doesn’t stop when the story ends! The Big Acorn Race also includes over 15 crochet patterns and projects to make the squirrels and their inventions, as well as accessories for you inspired by the story. Easy-to-follow, step-by-step instructions and tutorials will guide you in making your own squirrel characters, and the colorful photographs will inspire you to imagine new adventures for these crocheted friends.

Known for her ability to create patterns that are both simple in technique but truly creative and entertaining, Jennifer has taken great care to design projects that will be fun for the beginner and experienced crocheter alike.

Available from Amazon.com and other online retailers!


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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