I’ve always enjoyed working with my hands to create original art pieces and because I’ve tried quite a few different areas of art, I rather quickly realized my likes and limitations and therefore developed a respectable appreciation for other people’s efforts as well. I’ve tried oil painting and water color and working in acrylics; wood carving, mask making and ordinary fabric sewing. When I was dancing, I created almost all of my costumes, which gave me experience in not only fabrics, but also in leather and silks and beadwork.
My sources for learning were teachers, friends and lots of books. In my day, there was no YouTube or Internet, so my discoveries were often somewhat different than they are today. I have to say, though, I really prefer learning from a person, in person, so that I can ask questions as I go and also get feedback and pointers from that teacher right away. If there is a certain correct way of doing something, I’ve also learned it’s best to learn the right way rather than try to unlearn a wrong way. This sentence recalls to my mind incorrect fingering while learning a new piece of music for either my piano or cello or bagpipes.
Now that the holidays are over and life is settling back to normal, I’ve been thinking I’d like to get back to doing a project with my hands, but didn’t know what I was in the mood to try. Years ago I used to crochet a little. That might be fun. And I’ve always wanted to learn to knit. I tried once and found I seemed to tighten up on my stitches as I went and my work didn’t look good at all. Maybe I didn’t give it enough time and experience. I didn’t have a teacher for that.
Then I remembered when I was living in Germany, my neighbors upstairs in my apartment building were avid latch hook rug makers. I remember they were a husband and wife who were working on a rug maybe 9’ x 12’ in size and they’d sit side by side a few feet apart, and work together on each row. It was a beautiful French pastel design and so elegant looking. They told me it was a kit, with precut yarn and they’d work on it whenever they were in the mood and had time. I was so impressed!
When I came back to the States, I found a latch hook pillow kit that was a 24” square and thought that would be a good size for me to see if it was something I would enjoy pursuing. I started it and really loved working on it and then somehow life stepped in and I got busy doing other things. Years went by and I forgot about it. So while I was trying to decide what project I could get involved with, I thought of finishing that one. I started searching for it and found it waiting for me in my studio. Luckily, all the pieces seem to be together and I still really love the colors and design of the pillow, so I think I’ll finish it. It’s about three-quarters of the way done. Here’s a photo. Wish me luck!
Coco Ihle is the author of SHE HAD TO KNOW, an atmospheric traditional mystery set mainly in Scotland. Join her here each 11th of the month.