Zen and the Art of String: Weaving, Spinning, Embroidery, Crochet and More
Author: Baba StringThings
I am a middle-aged mother of three grown-up sons, a thrifty, creative, and dedicated born-again spinster, and I have a serious string addiction.
I teach crochet, knitting, bobbin lacemaking, hand-embroidery, weaving, spinning, kumihimo, darning, mending, and how to upcycle clothing. When I'm not doing that I pretty much play with string.
All. The. Time.
And I have an unholy love of Pinterest.
Clearly the product of a crochet craftavist’s happiest hallucination about a trip to an alternate crochet circus universe. Wow.
Without a doubt this is the most fantastical excursion into a surreal crocheted reality ever. I think my favourite part might be the lovely lace parasols of the stilt walkers. Or maybe the woman filling her crochet grocery cart with crochet food. What a fantabulous yarn bombing. A must watch.
A lovely little yarnbombing video that’s relaxing and enjoyable to watch. Take a few minutes to breathe and enjoy! The stilt walker’s umbrellas are my favorite. See photos on Facebook
I was immediately caught up in the wonder of the intersection between non-Euclidean geometry, feminism, crochet, and environmentalism, and I set out to make my own Hyperbolic Crochet Coral Garden.
I have a crochet coral reef in my living room.
My Coral reef is full of tiny sea creatures, mostly sea turtles, octopuses, and snails, because I find them the most fun to crochet.
When kids come to visit, I like having something completely indestructible for them to play with. It’s extra fun when they find a tiny albino sea turtle hiding inside a sea-weedy coral. Very often, a guest will pick up a coral to play with and sometimes I send the coral home with them. Everyone should have an encounter with a coral garden I feel.
The trip to London concluded to one of my favourite museums, the Victoria and Albert (V&A) museum. Whenever I’m in London, I always try and visit the V&A and I’ve still only seen a small fraction of the incredible collection they have.
Everything about the V&A is fabulous – the building, the exhibitions, the entire scale of the museum. If you can think of it, they probably have a collection on it. I’ve seen everything from a collection of locks and locking mechanisms, to armour for animals alongside more traditional pieces of art.
As it is a British national museum, entrance is absolutely free. You do have to pay to see the special exhibitions (tickets are around £15 for non-members) they have but that is it. They have an extensive gift shop and cafes if you want to support the work they do, which I would wholeheartedly encourage. There are…
Michelle is my extremely talented twin from another mother. Look what she’s doing!
Michelle is my extremely talented twin from another mother. She lives and makes beautiful art in Tokyo. (Almost literally twins, we share the same birthday and in fact are both turning 50 this month.) Look what she’s doing on her birthday!
I am so proud of her. Click through to take a peek at the three pieces she will be displaying. They are incredible.
Mazal Tov Michelle!
Three of my drawings will be in Zen at the Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum in Ueno park from August 22-29, 2016. After the Abstract Narrative group show at the Artcomplex Center of Tokyo, I was contacted by someone who saw my work and wanted to know if I would participate in a large group show…
Finding a half finished and abandoned craft project always makes me so sad…
Finding a half finished and abandoned craft project always makes me so sad…
I always wonder what happened? Did the crafter just get bored? Or did someone’s mother get old, and in the process of sorting their stuff out, a son or daughter decided to donate a half completed project?
S0, as you Winnipegger’s may know, Wolsley’s Neighbourhood Bookstore and Cafe is closed (temporarily I am POSITIVE). I encourage action!
Anyway, I just read this wonderful post about finding fibre-love treasure in second-hand bookstores ad thought to share it with you.
Two of the best finds I ever made at the cafe were ‘Plain and Fancy: American Women and Their Needlework, 1700-1850’ by Susan Burrows Swan (found last week!) and the ‘Woman’s Day Book of American Needlework’, by Rose Wilder Lane. (Yes, Laura’s daughter!) It still had it’s companion box of patterns too!
Have you made any amazing finds second-hand?
A good second-hand book store is a pearl beyond price.:-)
I enjoy roaming the aisles of used book stores. Over the years I have found some amazing books for very little money. Recently I came across a 1956 edition of A Handweaver’s Workbook by Heather G. Thorpe (originally published 1936, reissued in 1974). Not surprising given its age, the book is hardbound, and the pages are printed on heavy acid-free pages. It is also in perfect condition, nary a pencil mark! What a find!
Browsing through it, I was impressed by its thorough yet not overwhelming approach to introducing weaving. I learned some interesting facts I’ve not seen newer weaving survey books or learned in a weaving class.
Did you know (I didn’t!) that …
There are different names for crosses on warps made withe a paddle dependent upon their position: The first cross at the end of a warp is called a porrey cross; the second cross is called…
I am a craftswoman, not an artist. I am a Craftivist too. Let me tell you why…
The Personal Is Political
Words can be unexpectedly powerful. The difference between a craftswoman, needleworker, crocheter, fibre or textile artist, and artisan, etc., may be only a matter of terminology, but what you call yourself makes a real difference in both self and public perception.
I blistered my fingers pin-loom weaving but it was hella fun!
Pin Loom Weaving Class
Yesterday I went to a fun class at Wolsley Wool, my local independent yarn store. Kari taught us how to weave on a pin loom. I had flirted with the idea of doing pin loom weaving before, and the Schacht Zoom Loom is exactly the kind of small loom that tempts me the most, but I could never justify the cost and I never ran into a second-hand one.
So when I saw a workshop offered, including a handmade pin loom, taught by the delightful Kari, I jumped at it.
Tea and crochet is a thrifty pastime, but good hooks, (and books!) are worth the money.
Today was one of the 10 or so perfect days of the year here in Winnipeg. It wasn’t too hot or cold, there were no mosquitoes to speak of, the sun was out and the sky was beautiful. In short, a perfect day to walk down to my local second-hand book store and coffee shop, the Neighbourhood Cafe, with my crochet.
I found and bought a wonderful book, “Plain and Fancy, American Women and Their Needlework 1650-1850” by Susan Burrows Swan.
It showed many of the tools our foremothers used, and it started me thinking about the tools that I use everyday.
Most of them are virtually identical. Any weaver from 1650 could sit down at my loom and be up and weaving in seconds. My spinning wheel may have a bike wheel instead of a wooden spoked one but it hasn’t changed in it’s essentials at all. And although my hoop, needles, threads and scissors are really wonderful, my very best needlework might be as fine as the average 17th century six year old’s!
Crochet in it’s present form is a very new type of needlework, only from the mid-1800’s, but people have been using hooks to pull loops of string through loops a lot longer. Netting is most likely crochet’s direct forebear. It really came into its own during Ireland’s Great Famine and then in North America, but that is a story for another day. Originally hooks were all very small, and were made of silver, pewter, bone, and ivory, and wood. A vintage hook is a real treasure today, but for everyday use, I prefer mine.