A Perfect Day, A Perfect Hook, A Perfect Book, And A Piece Of String.

Tea and crochet is a thrifty pastime, but good hooks, (and books!) are worth the money.

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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.

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“Plain and Fancy, American Women and Their Needlework 1650-1850

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.

Continue reading “A Perfect Day, A Perfect Hook, A Perfect Book, And A Piece Of String.”

Meet Dziparu Mate, The Latvian Holy Mother Of Yarn

“Dear Dziparina Mamulina, help me keep this damn yarn from tangling so I can knit another pair of damned mittens!”

I would like to introduce you to Dziparu Mate, one of my very favourite Goddesses. She is one of the Latvian Mother Goddesses or Mates, and She rules over Wool, Coloured Wool and Yarn.

Knitting was very important in the life of young Latvian women. Girls were expected to knit over fifty pairs of mittens before their wedding day, and the number of pairs a girl had made was one factor in finding a husband.

That made mitten-making a very serious business. Can you imagine the pressure of knowing your prospective husband’s family would be examining your mittens in order to decide if you were worthy of marrying their son? On the wedding day, the bride would give out the mittens she had made to her new in-laws. Hopefully, the mittens (and the bride)  would be a big hit.

Continue reading “Meet Dziparu Mate, The Latvian Holy Mother Of Yarn”

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.

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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”