Baba’s Story: Learning Needlecrafts

…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…

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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…

 

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”

Paper Embroidery

Have you ever tried embroidering on paper? It’s fun but a bit picky. Once a hole is in the paper there is no going back.

This week I did a little embroidery on watercolour paper. Turns out that it is, hands down, the easiest paper to embroider on that I have ever tried. I used an awl to punch the holes (after placing the paper on a piece of leather) and used only a variety of outline stitches. I think it is simple but effective.

It’s a long time since I hauled out the watercolours but I think it’s not too bad. Continue reading “Paper Embroidery”

Simple Crafternoon Pleasures

I taught five beginners to crochet today!

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.

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A Stitch in Time, William Henry Margetson, 1915.

Continue reading “Simple Crafternoon Pleasures”

The Trials, Tribulations, and Triumphs of a Left-Handed Craft Teacher

It isn’t always easy, being a lefty. Especially when you are trying to teach a right-handed student to craft. But it can be done!

The Dreaded LHKRPTSD (Left-Handed Knitting-Related Post Traumatic Stress Disorder)

When I was 12, in grade 7, I had to take a class called Crafts, that nearly turned me off string forever. Sadly, the teacher didn’t “believe in” left-handed (aka backwards) knitting.

Now, as a craft teacher myself, I look back on that class and wonder if it would be even be possible to do a worse job of teaching a bunch of kids the joys of needlework. It took me 37 years to even try to learn to knit again. Thank  Habetrot, she didn’t try to teach me crochet! Teaching an opposite-handed beginner to do yarn-craft takes a little extra work but it can be done very successfully.

Continue reading “The Trials, Tribulations, and Triumphs of a Left-Handed Craft Teacher”

Making Mobiles

Calder, eat your heart out!
Making a mobile in 14 fairly simple steps.

A few days ago I was at the centre where I teach various String Things, when I was asked if I could help someone make a mobile featuring origami cranes for her new apartment’s new Asian-inspired theme.

Now usually I wouldn’t be able to help as there are only limited amounts of string used in this craft but I did have a brief but extremely passionate love affair with kinetic art and thus have lots of experience.

Since I promised to teach her how to make her own version of my Cherry Blossom Mobile (above) I thought I might as  well share it here too!

Continue reading “Making Mobiles”

Converting A Newbie To The Dark And Crafty Side…

Everything I learned about teaching, I learned in child care.

Learning a new skill can be intimidating. How many times have you heard someone say, “Oh I couldn’t do that, I’m not creative?” Not to worry, there are things you can do that help the nervous new crafter blossom into a happy, healthy, and helpless yarn fiend, like moi. 😉 Continue reading “Converting A Newbie To The Dark And Crafty Side…”