Monday, January 30, 2012

Wool-crafts from Eras gone by and what is still in use today. By Mary deHaas

 I am one of those crazy people who cannot sit and do nothing.....

But it is more than just having to do something with my hands.
I see it as making the most of every minute available to me. In creating a useful and worthwhile object or gift that began from scratch, comes the achievement and pleasure of the completed article. Like these colourful crocheted butterflies!

In today’s world I believe time has become a most precious commodity, and one I will not waste. I am constantly sharing my valuable time among the ever growing list of things I hope to accomplish.Therefore I must utilize it wisely.

When travelling as a passenger, whether it be car, bus, train or plane, the need to keep my hands active as the miles whizz past, is a necessity. Thankfully I do not suffer from nausea that comes from having my attention given head down to knitting or reading a book
Even watching T.V. I will always find something to do, even if it is just cutting out pictures, such as used for the intricate art of decopage. Another interesting topic for later.

The opportunity to create is all around us so there’s not a minute to be spared.
In the past home crafts were not only for enjoyment and to keep wandering minds and idle hands busy, but also done out of necessity. Spinning and weaving the yarn, then using it to turn into clothing, blankets and wears. Knitting, hand stitching and embroidery, created a world of lovely garments, while darning gave life back to old or worn clothes and footwear, such as stockings and socks. It was a time when nothing was wasted or simply thrown away as we are inclined to do today!
In many European countries like Sweden, Germany, Bulgaria and Hungry, Folk Art was used to decorate the interior of the house during the winter months when occupants were snowed in.

I was lucky to learn many of these crafts from my mum, who created lovely pieces of clothing and beautiful needlework. I learnt knitting first, because two needles were a lot easier to manipulate than the fine mechanics and patience needed for one fine hook and thin cotton. It would be years later before I would be able to do fancy lacy stitching around face-washers and linen doilies, and make my own crotched squares for blankets.

With the introduction of the manufacturing age, hand-made articles declined. Time became sparse and numerous home-crafts were in real danger of becoming as extinct as the do-do bird. But in the past few years, many of these time honoured crafts are making a huge come back. And thank goodness I say. One can experience the calming effects of using these quiet skills, along with the, pride, joy and satisfaction that comes from completing something by yourself and with your own hands. More often than not, it has been my own experience to find the quality of handmade articles is by far more superior than anything made commercially or by bulk. It is also a pleasure to see a new, younger generation interested and eager to learn these old-fashioned skills. Wool and fabric shops are becoming popular once more.

So what kinds of wool crafts do I enjoy to do?
Many of the old hand-crafts are still in use today. The more popular ones and those which I am most fond of and enjoy to do are: Knitting, Crotchet, Cross stitch, Latch hook, Tapestry, Long stitch and Macramé.
Recently a lovely friend from the United States sent me a beautiful Cross-stitch of a fairy, complete with sequins and bead-work! With hours of dedicated work--you just know that people care when they gift you with such a time consuming gift. Thank-you Moira ... I will always treasure it.

You are never too old to learn a new skill. Last year my DH and I attended a medieval Festival in Queensland-Australia, near Bribie Island. The Fair itself was simply amazing but that will be a topic for another time.
While there, I came across another interesting form of wool craft—Lucet.
The Lucet, otherwise known as a chain fork, is a simple forked wooden device used to produce strong, non stretching braids, like friendship bracelets. During medieval times, braids were used to attach useful and valuable items to one's belt, as well as to produce headbands, necklaces and bracelets.

For me, it was a new way of working with wool, but in reality it was one that is 1000’s of years old. A usefulcraft that has been passed down from the times of the Vikings. I was so impressed I bought a tool and with a few lessons I was on my way.
Here are some interesting sites you may wan to check out on the Lucet.


Allison Butler said...

Hi Maryde,

Thanks so much for this fabulous post. It's great to hear many of the time-honored, home-crafts are making a come-back. Love the braids created using the Lucet:)

Anonymous said...

Thanks Allison :)
Yes I agree. How sad would it be that these clever crafts would be lost if we did not pass them on.
At the fair, the clever things and garments the people had created were really beautiful. Using Gold/silver threads and coloured patterns etc.

Cheryl Leigh said...

Mary, you are one talented lady!

Cross stitch and tapestry is so relaxing, but I'm envious of your knitting skills, something I've never grasped properly.

Thanks for the explanation about the Lucet. The Medieval fair sounded fun!

Cassandra Samuels said...

Oh how I wish I was more crafty with my hands. Alas I have no patience. I am sure I have a half knitted scarf somewhere.

Thanks for a great post.

Anonymous said...

What a great post, Mary.

And I'm in agreement with Cass, I wish I was also more crafty with my hands. Hate to say it, but I can barely knit. LOL

Tam ;)

Anonymous said...

:) Tamara, I'm sure we are all clever with our hands in one way or another.
Cheryl, the Medieval Fair is on annually. It is where I first met Suzi Love. *waving* to Suzi.

Cass, I think everyone has a half knitted or completed piece of wool/cotton-work somewhere.

Thanks for stopping by ladies :)