On a Learning Spree, Part 1: Crafts

Just imagine me spending hours combing through these 60s through 80s magazines, searching for fun projects to update for today’s sensibilities!

I’ve noticed something new about myself in the past few months. Coinciding with a general good mood and attitude towards life has been a giant uptick in curiosity. If there’s something I don’t know much about, I dive in and learn as much about it as possible (you might have noticed that in my long-ass articles on dog coat genetics). I read every book I can get ahold of, and if I can, I take a class.

I thank the Master Naturalist program for jump-starting me back to being my old curious self. My brain is so happy, though probably the people around me are growing tired of me spouting off about something I just learned. They’ll really get sick of me after the conference coming up in October!

Over the next few days, I’ll share what I’ve been thinking about lately, along with some resources.

So, What about Needlework and Crafts?

This is NOT a new interest for me, as anyone whose looked at my rather dormant Ravelry profile would notice. I have been stitching something or other pretty much since I could read a set of instructions. I even still have my second embroidery (my first was a sampler that seems to be lost). For years I concentrated on knitting, my favorite. I knitted a lot of garments, and then in the 2000s I got into teaching knitting classes, which was fun while it lasted. I had a pretty popular knitting blog and still have a lot of online knitting friends.

Here’s a book co-written by Lynda, the woman who introduced me to Navajo weaving.

But I’ve branched out and tried some new things, like Navajo-style weaving (which I hope to do again in the fall). I also spent a year or two doing needlepoint, which I hadn’t done in a long time. I guess I was on knitting hiatus. (And needlepoint is easier to keep away from young dogs who like to chew holes in as many things as possible.)

I’m back, though, and am almost finished with a big blanket that I had a lot of fun with. I love new techniques, and this combo of motifs and colors got me all excited again.

This is called Mitered Throw, and is from a Noro Knitting magazine.

Big Thrill #1

That brings me to the surprise boxes of needlework pamphlets and magazines I just “inherited” from a friend’s mother. I wasn’t expecting much, but when I opened the box, I found dozens of issues of magazines I already collect, from the years just before my collection started (I started in 1980, when I got my first real apartment in grad school). Score!

Oh, drool. McCall’s Needlework and Crafts was just a great magazine, and having even more of them to pore through makes me practically giddy. Some of the things are just plain hilarious, while others are as wonderful as they were when the magazines first came out, and can easily be adapted for use today. The other magazines and pamphlets will be fun, especially some that are from an old needlepoint magazine I never saw before. I may review that later.

My favorite page of four-way bargello illustrations. It’s a way to do long-stitch needlepoint.

But, wait, what’s that at the bottom of the box? It’s a copy of my favorite needlepoint book EVER! Four-Way Bargello! I think there was only this onebook ever written on that, and used to check it out of the library repeatedly as a young woman. I have memorized some of these illustrations. I could swear I have another, smaller, book with some four-way bargello patterns, but it may be just regular bargello (which is long stitches over needlepoint or cross stitch canvas).

This is the piece that combines four-way bargello with regular tent stitch needlepoint that I made for my mother while I was in college. It is in her favorite colors, and hung on the walls of her periwinkle bedroom. It now hangs in my periwinkle bathroom, which is sort of a tribute to Mom.

As you can see, I liked it a lot. I used to have a little sign I made in college that had my motto at the time, “Life Is Rough” surrounded by perky bargello.

Oh, while researching stuff on four-way bargello, I came across a lovely blog called the Bargellist. If you want to learn more about this stuff, she will have you covered. I’m following it now!

Big Thrill #2

The giant boxes of patterns aren’t the only things that have gotten me all worked up about crafting lately.  I also took a couple of knitting classes last weekend and learned some new information I can’t wait to use. I have to thank my craft buddy Chriztine for suggesting we do the classes.

This is a great view of the kind and talented Franklin Habit, the amazing rural fiber arts palace known as Yarnorama. He’s showing off the tiny little embroidery I made on a piece of knitting.

I’d always admired Franklin Habit, who is a very talented writer, cartoonist, knitting designer, and marketer (that dude can really market). I missed him when he came to teach before, because, well, I sort of fell off the local knitter radar thanks to being a hermit.

So, I was happy to join Chriztine in one class woth Franklin, and take another class all by myself (with other attendees, just no friends) at scenic Yarnorama, in Paige, Texas. I’ve always liked that place, and many of my old friends used to spend a lot of time there spinning, weaving, and knitting. It’s been around for ten years, which is amazing for a shop in the middle of nowhere. It’s become a destination, thanks to Susan Fricks’s hard work at building a community!

Here’s a close-up of the cross stitch. It’s much smaller in real life. I used sock yarn for the stitches.

Anyway, I took a class in shadow knitting with Chriztine, and forgot to take a picture. I already knew how to do this, but got some great insights from Franklin, and met nice fellow knitters. The next day I did the thing I’d really wanted to try, which was counted cross stitch over knitting, which is what you see above. You use waste canvas to do the cross stitching, then pull it out. Ta da!

It’s energizing to me to meet new people, get to know people I’ve only known online before, and learn a new skill. Um, and I also bought a lot of yarn.

So, this very long post has just one point: crafts have me in my happy and curious place right now.

What’s yours?

PS: Stay tuned for more things I have been curious about!


Author: Sue Ann (Suna) Kendall

The person behind The Hermits' Rest blog and many others. I'm a certified Texas Master Naturalist and love the nature of Milam County. I manage technical writers in Austin, help with Hearts Homes and Hands, a personal assistance service, in Cameron, and serve on three nonprofit boards. You may know me from La Leche League, knitting, iNaturalist, or Facebook. I'm interested in ALL of you!

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