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 ‘Rechenka’s Eggs’, a wonderful book by Patricia Polacco)
My Inner Crone, Babushka Renata. (Illustration from ‘Thundercake’, 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 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.
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?
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.
I’m the kind of person that always has a piece of string in her pocket…just in case. You never know when a bit of calm might be desperately needed.
That’s actually not a flippant title. I really did find my zen (or mindfulness or peace if you prefer) through string. And now playing with string is pretty much the organizing principal of my life. It’s a large part of what makes my life worth living.
Well that and teaching my beloved Arts Of String to anyone who wants to learn. I will be sharing my thoughts, tips, and techniques for helping unsure beginners discover their Inner Spirits of String in this blog too. And yes, all of those caps were necessary!