Life has been a bit difficult lately, but playing with string is always comforting.
I thought I’d do a bit of a round up of the projects I’m working on right now, and well as a bit of what I’ve just finished.
My proudest recent achievement is definitely learning how to knit socks. I spent months doing nothing else.
I’m doing a bit of simple embroidery too. This is actually a napkin that I found in Ikea’s ‘as is’ bin for $1.00. It has four lovely little motifs, I’ve done two so far, a teapot and two hares.
I finished embroidering a very cute little lady. The variegated floss is hand-dyed by Bathtub Studios and I found it on Etsy. It’s a real pleasure to use. Her ruffled underskirt is done in Bayeux stitch and I am very happy with how it turned out!
…The most difficult part of learning any new skill is learning to tolerate the distress of being bad at it. Everyone feels clumsy and frustrated as they work to get a new skill from their mind to their hands…The feeling you get when the skill just clicks into focus, it’s just indescribably satisfying…
One of my favourite blogs, Crochet Concupiscence, has a list of questions that people can use to self-interview. This blog is all about crochet, and I do a number of needlecrafts, primarily sewing, weaving, embroidery, spinning and crochet, so my questions/answers are a bit different. Still, it’s a good way to think seriously about how string became the organizing principal of my life. And since I am currently snowed in following a blizzard, here is section one: learning to craft with fabric, thread and yarn…
My Inner Crone, Babushka Renata. (Illustration from ‘Thundercake’, a wonderful book by Patricia Polacco)
My Inner Crone, Babushka Renata. (Illustration from ‘Rechenka’s Eggs’, a wonderful book by Patricia Polacco)
All About Learning The Textile Crafts
Q1. When did you learn needlework?
A1. I came very late to the textile crafts. I was already in my mid 40s before I began and I am only 50 now. My grandmother had taught me a bit of crochet when I was 8 or so, but she had difficulty teaching a left-handed kid with learning disabilities that included directional confusion. It was frustrating for both of us.
In grade 7 I took a class called crafts (very unwillingly). The teacher was old-fashioned and refused to let me knit ‘backwards’ aka left-handed. The two of us struggled over a 12″ teddy-bear made of horrid blue variegated acrylic for the whole semester, with her smacking my left hand with a knitting needle every time she found me knitting left-handed. To this day I don’t like to knit!
My real start in needlework came via a general commitment to living more simply, I wanted to learn to sew enough to make myself a simple wardrobe of long dresses and pinafores. Basically I was aiming for the life and wardrobe of the Crones pictured above. (One of those is me!) And now that’s pretty much my life! Continue reading “Baba’s Story: Learning Needlecrafts”
I am pretty sure I don’t need to tell you what a colossally anxious year-end 2016 has been. And added to that, my yearly resurgence of feeling crappy has made it even worse. It seems to be dark ALL of the time…The upside? Lots of quiet middle of the night crafting. Here’s a quick round up of December’s projects.
Will this dreadful year ever end? Thank goodness for the Zen of String.
In Winnipeg, talking (aka complaining, bitching and/or ranting) about the weather is not small talk. It’s an all-important preoccupation. So please bear with me…
I am pretty sure I don’t need to tell you what a colossally anxious year-end 2016 has been. And added to that, my yearly resurgence of feeling crappy has made it even worse. It seems to be dark ALL of the time. Here’s today’s: Dec 26 – Daylight. 8:26 am – 4:33 pm 8 hours, 6 minutes. But of that there was only 3 hours of sunlight because of cloud.
May Biewe, the Sami Goddess of the Sun, Spring, Fertility and Sanity, who restores the mental health of those who go insane because of the continual darkness of the long winter, bless us all with strength, light and sanity. I think we are going to need it! (My fervent wish for all of us)
I have trouble with my circadian clock anyway, but this month it has been spinning around wildly. The upside? Lots of quiet middle of the night crafting. Here’s a quick round up of December’s projects.
Brenda’s Rectilinear Home-spun Scarf: This is a scarf I made for my mom out of my handspun yarn. She watched me use my new tiny lace-weight Turkish spindle to spin and ply the yarn…and then skein, soak, stretch, wind and crochet the yarn into a lovely little scarf for her. Completed 12/2016, Fibre is hand-dyed fair-trade merino from Manos Del Uruguay in the colourway ‘Wildflowers’.
Yarn being spun for Brenda Barrie’s Hand-Spun Crochet Merino Rectilinear Stole. Renata Bursten 12/2016.
Brenda Barrie’s Hand-Spun Crochet Merino Rectilinear Stole. Renata Bursten 12/2016.
Alpaca Coat Of Many Colours + Matching Scarf: Also, while my mom was here, I made a crochet alpaca coat of many colours and a matching scarf. There was no pattern, it is just an elaboration of a circle vest but I am very happy with it. It’s light but warm and I have been wearing it a lot. It took a bit more than three days to crochet and the beautiful multicoloured yarn that inspired the whole design came from a stitch’n’bitch buddy, Linda L. Thank you Linda! The scarf was made just to use up the last bits of yarn, but it turned out amazingly well. It uses arrow stitch, a cabling stitch I had never tried before, and it’s a new favourite.
Back. Crochet alpaca coat and matching scarf. Renata Bursten 12/2016.
Front. Crochet alpaca coat and matching scarf. Renata Bursten 12/2016.
Greetings my fellow String Sistren and Brethren, I have missed you all!
This has been a really busy few weeks for me. I have been working on finishing a commissioned crochet peacock feather blanket, my depression lace is looking better and better, and I have bought a brand new lace weight Turkish spindle and some beautiful fibre. I seem to be spinning all of the time now.
My teaching has been chugging along nicely. I have many new crocheters, lots of new kumihimo braiders, and a few people interested in trying embroidery for the first time. Exciting!
I have a special love of religious string things, and dreamcatchers certainly fit into that category. But they can be just for pretty too…
Here is a post that is worth checking out. It is a beautiful series of interpretive dreamcatchers, made by one of my favourite inspirations, Renate Kirkpatrick. She’s an Aussie but her dreamcatchers would be popular here in the Cree/Ojibwa lands too.
And yes, she is another Renata like me, different spelling, same pronunciation. Extra bonus!
Check out her freeform crochet, you’ll be happy you did. 🙂
Lots of love,
Baba StringThings (aka Renata from Winnipeg)
Dreamcatchers… something new & different from me that I’ve wanted to try for some time. I’ve created these Dreamcatchers, not as authentic representations but as my own personal artistic interpretations.
I’m an Aussie, so my interest in dreamcatchers isn’t cultural… I simply love them & more over, I love the idea of them.
Dreamcatchers originate in Native American tradition, believing both positive & negative dreams flow through the night & that a Dreamcatcher, hanging freely over or near a sleeping person, will allow the good dreams to pass through while capturing the bad dreams, which will perish & vanish with the rising sun…
I used patterns from this collection of 16 Crochet Motifs & embellished with wooden, glass & plastic beads & attached swivel cams so the dreamcatcher can rotate freely…
Today was an awesome day. It didn’t start well, but it improved rapidly.
On my way to teach at my Crafternoon group, while getting on my first bus, I stepped on the hem of my brand new dress and it tore in several places. Luckily, I had my needlework chatelaine pinned to my apron and a good assortment of thread on me. So while waiting for my second bus I sat on the grass under a tree and mended the holes.
People walking by looked at me as if I were performing an arcane bit of magic. A needle and thread! What is she doing? Two minutes later a quick and dirty repair job was done. I got a huge kick out of the teens trying to figure out if I was actually sewing or doing a bit of performance art. It was a small but real pleasure.
Oh wow, I am so inspired to try this with some of my deluge of doilies! Has anyone else tried this I wonder?
Lots of love,
Yesterday I shared an exercise for framing your crochet to create art, as a practice in honoring your own creative self-expression. There are so many different ways to display your crochet, including many different types of frames that you can use. One unique idea that many people have started adopting recently is to use embroidery…
It’s been a hell of a overcomsumption party, but the fun is over and the guests are puking in the bushes outside. It’s time to relearn the wisdom of Making Do and Mending.
The Japanese have a really beautiful set of aesthetic traditions that, to me, are the exact opposite of the frantic, febrile spasm of over consumerism that the world seems to be caught up in. We are literally consuming ourselves to death.
One of the most beautiful and healing of these concepts is wabi sabi.
Wikipedi says, “Wabi-sabi represents Japanese aesthetics and a Japanese world view centered on the acceptance of transience and imperfection. The aesthetic is sometimes described as one of beauty that is “imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete”.
“the wabi-sabi aesthetic include asymmetry, asperity (roughness or irregularity), simplicity, economy, austerity, modesty, intimacy.” (Wikipedia)
Those are such beautiful concepts. There is a coolness, serenity, naturalness and acceptance that feels like the exact opposite of anxiety in these concepts. Now I am no expert at all, but I think I really get this right down to my bones. These are my guiding principals as a craftswoman. Continue reading “Visible Mending: The Beauty Of Broken Things”