Squirrel Picnic

Handmade with Love and Stuff

In a Nutshell: News from the Picnic


Here in Colorado, summer is breezing along. It’s been a summer of exploration, discovery, and reflection.

Denali seen from TalkeetnaEarly on, I did some traveling. In June, my father and I went on a trip together to Alaska, just the two of us. It was the trip of a lifetime. We flew around Denali in a Cesna, took a jet boat up the Susitna to Devil’s Canyon Gorge, watched the Aialik Glacier calve into the bay in Kenai Fjords National Park, and hitched a ride with the sled dogs at Seavey’s Iditarod Tours in Seward. We saw moose, black bear, bald eagles, bighorn sheep, puffins, porpoises, sea lions, otters, and humpback whales!

Then earlier this month, Shelby and I, along with his dad and his dad’s girlfriend Dottie, road the Cumbres-Toltec train from New Mexico to Colorado. The route is full of switchbacks and turns around some beautiful country and steep mountain cliffs. Returning from these outdoor adventures, I have been keen to get outside as much as possible to enjoy Colorado nature, but to tell you the truth, it’s been just too darn hot. In the end, it all worked out because I have a lot of crocheting and designing to do, which I like just as much as being outside!

Some incredible things have been going on at the picnic. Regarding the book, there have been interviews and I’ve received some help getting the book into stores. It’s still a challenge, but I’m happy to make progress by baby steps. In other news, I’ve been hard at work on some new designs and some special plans. Here’s what I’ve been up to:


Kate Alinari and Tip Strano

Kate Alinari and her crocheted friend Tipo Strano (in English, his name means “Oddball”) interviewed Hodge and Podge and I for her blog. Tipo Strano is from another planet. No really, he is! And he’s interested in learning about earth. He had lots of questions about squirrels. But we also talked about how Hodge and Podge came to be and about The Big Acorn Race, of course.

We really enjoyed meeting Kate and Tipo Strano. Even though he is from outerspace, we found so much in common.

People I Think Are Cool Podcast with Liz Reed of Cuddles and Rage

Jennifer Olivarez for PITAC PodcastIn May, Liz Reed (one-half of the webcomic duo Cuddles and Rage) interviewed me for her podcast People I Think Are Cool. I don’t know if I’m really that cool, but I was so pleased to know that she does! We talked about Hodge and Podge and their friends around the world. I think I even mentioned some of you by name! We also talked about self-publishing, dioramas, cute things, copyright and police squirrels, and what it takes to pursue one’s passion. I think you’ll really enjoy our discussion.

Liz is so sweet and funny. I had a great time talking with her. If you ever need a quick pick-me-up, just stop by their website Cuddles and Rage and take a look at their comics, especially the recent ones about food. They are always good for a smile!

CGOA Conference Design Competition

Pineapple Sunset by Jennifer OlivarezAfter the book was released, I felt a big desire to do something totally different. I needed to just let loose and crochet something big, wild, and without a pattern! I learned that the Crochet Guild of America was holding their annual design competition again this year in conjunction with their annual conference. They even had a theme: pineapples! Right away the wheels started turning on what I could do to make a giant pineapple. I’ve been really interested in crocheting 3-dimensional pieces with various stitch patterns and colors. So that’s what I did.

“Pineapple Sunset” is a sculptural crochet piece that is 36 inches tall and 20 inches around. It uses a variety of stitch patterns including the Catherine’s Wheel, eyelash, chevron, seed stitch, and lattice. I even worked the bottom with a spiral flower reminiscent of my Tall ‘n’ Fast Flower design. Perhaps the spiral is my signature element?

I almost forgot the biggest news of all! “Pineapple Sunset” won first place in the Artistic Expression category!

The Very First Postcard to Our Pen Pals

Hodge and Podge in the GardenOur very first postcard will go out in the mail on Saturday. Hodge and Podge are hard at work penning their messages to you! If you would like to become pen pals with Hodge and Podge and receive occasional mail from them (we’re shooting for twice a year), send a postcard to

Hodge and Podge
c/o Squirrel Picnic
PO Box 740463
Arvada, CO 80006

Yet Another Way to Make a Squirrel Tail

My apologies that I haven’t been able to get around to this yet. It’s been near the top of my to-do list all month! Our dear friend Sandy has made quite a few squirrels already this year and I noticed that she has been crocheting the tail using the tail from my snow squirrel pattern, but with a loop stitch. I really want to get a pattern and video tutorial up for this on The Big Acorn Race blog early next month.

New Children’s Play Set Pattern!

I’m working hard to meet a deadline to submit a brand-new play set pattern for consideration in a well-known crochet magazine. I think you will really like this design. It’s got lots of pockets for hiding toys and flowers that button on. Wonderful opportunities for busy little hands! I’ll keep you posted on where and when you can find this pattern.

Big Plans for Sleepy Bear

Sleepy Bears by Jennifer Olivarez

Next month I’ll be releasing free patterns for accessories for one of my favorite toys, Sleepy Bear! Then I have a huge surprise. A dear friend of the picnic, Maureen Speerly, has written a story about Sleepy Bear, which I plan to share with you. This will be in conjunction with a special call to action.

It’s no secret that Sleepy Bear makes a great gift. He is so cuddly, just wrapping your arms around him makes you feel good. What a lovely gift it would be for a child in need to receive the bear along with a printout of her story.

During this series, I’ll invite crocheters to make a Sleepy Bear for a child in need and I’ll offer suggestions for organizations that they might donate to if they don’t already have a specific child in mind.

This call to action will be announced mid-August, so stay tuned for all the details and to get the pdf of Maureen’s story.

I hope you all are enjoying your summer (or winter if that’s where you are). I can’t wait to finish up some of these projects so I can share more with you!


11 thoughts on “In a Nutshell: News from the Picnic

  1. A lot of fantastic news, me and Tipo Strano are so happy for you! XXX Kate

    • Hi Kate! I’m so glad that you saw my post today. It was so much fun talking with you earlier this year. I know you and I and our crochet characters will be lifelong friends!

  2. I have to say that reading about your adventures made me smile 🙂
    It must have been wonderful to travel around with your Dad like that 🙂
    I’m so pleased you are getting more recognition for Hodge, Podge & friends, and for your wonderful book, too, and I have to tell you that I think your pineapple is amazing – Pineapple Sunset suits it to a T 🙂
    I can’t wait to see what your plans are, for both the child’s play pen, and the scrumptious Sleepy Bear – but I guess I can hang on for a few more weeks 🙂

    • Hi Katy! It’s so good to hear from you! It was a wonderful trip with my dad. We didn’t get to spend much time together, just the two of us, when I was growing up, so this was an especially nice time for us. I will remember it always! I really think that you will like all the new patterns coming out this year. They are very sweet indeed. Worth waiting for, if you ask me. 😉

      • I’m so glad for you 🙂

        I lost my Dad last year, so I know just how precious the few times I was able to spend with him were 😦

        I hope you are able to have even more memories to treasure with your Dad 🙂

        As for new patterns, that’s always something to look forward to, and definitely worth waiting for 🙂

        • I’m so sorry to hear about your dad. You message really hit home for me. That’s exactly why I wanted to go on this trip with my dad. It is a time I will always treasure. It is good that you have some wonderful memories of your dad as well. Hold on to those, tightly! Lots of love and hugs to you!

  3. What a fun trip you had! I am going to google those places and in particular, the railway. I think the pines are wonderful and I have always loved sleepy bear. I have been having fun with lambs and tweaking my lambs story and plan to update the story and post the lamb pattern over the weekend. The Big Acorn Race will be available in our local library tomorow and the city library in the next week or so. I will send a pic of them on the shelf at some time.
    Hugs, Sharon.x

    • Hi Sharon! The Alaska Railroad was a lot of fun. We saw most of the wildlife from the train! They also employ high school kids to narrate the trip. I learned a lot from them. Your lambs are adorable and the story was so sweet. I can’t wait to see them again. Thanks again for working with your local library to include The Big Acorn Race in their collection. What is the name of the library? I would like to send them a thank-you. You are so sweet. Thank you!

      • I have done a bit more work on my story as I sort of threw it together to meet the deadline and I am more pleased with it now. I will email you the details of both libraries soon. I hope to get the pattern post out later today. ❤ ❤ ❤

  4. Here I am!! I listened to your interview some days ago but didn’t have time to sit down and write my impressions up till now…. oh, I do not work but still can’t understand where I spend all my time… anyway….
    I loved so so so much to hear you and to learn about the huge background The Big Acorn Race has ( by the way, it was ‘ ARCON’ for me for a very long time…). I haven’t realized it was such an enormous work and you did an excellent and amazing job with your book indeed! Chapeau!! Now I understand much more your hesitations about the translation in Italian.

    • Hi Tajana! Thank you so much for listening to my interview with Liz. It was a lot of fun. Reflecting on all that the book required was very gratifying, but also exhausting just to think about! Yes, I have been thinking more about your offer and I don’t think that now is the right time. Perhaps in the future it will be easier for me to pursue an Italian translation, and then I would love to work with you on it. That was so sweet of you to offer. Until then, we will crochet to our hearts content!