It’s not hard to remember my first project as it was only 5 years ago! A friend had given me an old, soft and beautiful English linen tea towel printed with William De Morgan’s peacock and fish. She knew that I love the Arts and Craft movement. Although I had never embroidered, something about the idea of glorifying and honouring the humble tea towel and the anonymous feminine work that it represents tickled my feminist fancy and I thought I would outline a few lines. Ha!
I had never stitched but as a weaver-in-training (loom and tapestry) I was very comfortable experimenting with thread and yarn so I bought some DMC floss and a pack of needles and thought I would just doodle a bit.
By the time I was done, around 250 hours later, it was heavy with thread. It turned out to be a vivid and naive piece that I am still very proud of. And I have been stitching ever since.
These days I really enjoy learning, adapting, and practising different traditional styles of needlework, but I think that embroidery is, at it’s base, the most intuitive and natural of all the yarn and thread crafts. That first piece showed me that picking up a needle and thread, even with no knowledge of proper stitches, is enough to create a work of beauty.
I wonder what your first project was?
…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.
Detail. 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.
Crochet alpaca arrow stitch scarf. Renata Bursten 12/2016.
Detail showing wide swing of the coat. Crochet alpaca coat and matching scarf. Renata Bursten 12/2016.
Continue reading “Baba StringThing’s December 2016 Round-Up of All Things String.”