handicraft

Growing up without toys, before the days of television and light years before the computers,

but after the days of mud cakes, tadpoles, smashing rubber seeds,
and climbing mango trees,
the need to entertain myself led me to creativity.

At around the age of five or six, my first doll, if you could call it a doll, was two short coconut skewers tied into a cross with a rubber band. I made paper dresses for the ‘doll’. Later, I had paper cut-out human figures with paper dresses. My paper dolls must be the most well dressed in all kinds of colourful fashion. I had my first plastic doll, far from a Barbie, as a prize from my dad, for being the top student in my first year at school when I was seven. She had lots of dresses made from left-over scraps of material.

Boredom led me to –

Art

At school, I was more into science, not art, thank you very much. I was often ‘volunteered’ by my teachers to enter art competitions. Such a nuisance and I could not understand why! I even painted a huge mural on a school wall along with two other students.

I did not consider being able to draw as a talent; I thought anyone could do it, just like writing. Water-colour was what I used as that was the only medium available to me at the time, other than colour pencils. It’s only much later in life that I tried oil and acrylics.

Crochet

is the first needle craft that I learned when I was about eight by watching grandma when she was making the in-thing, must have. Yes, crochet raffia bags! So hip! A crochet shell-pattern bag was the object to drool for. How easily pleased were we before the days of Prada, Gucci or YSL. Grandma also made crochet laces for her nyonya camisoles.

I saved up waste raffia strings that were used for tying shoppings and parcels and practised the stitches using those strings. When Grandma wasn’t looking, I would sneak a few stitches into her work. At that time, the stitches bore no names. It was amazing how Grandma could make things without the help of books and patterns or instructions. In time, as fashion comes and fashion goes, crochet raffia bags, hats and wool shawls were forgotten and the craft abandoned.

I picked it up again as an adult, to fill in my leisure time. By then, I discovered crochet books and the ability to read opened up a world of crochet possibilities. I worked using written instructions and also diagrams. Then, the busy-ness of life took over. The craft took a back seat when I learned to knit.

Now, I’m back crocheting again. I would love to show Grandma the results of what she started in me if I could take my work with me to heaven one day. I bet she would be happy.

Knitting

I learned to knit while living in Singapore, lovingly taught by a Sister. To this day, I use the casting-on method she taught me. Knitted jumpers or cardigans are not useful in tropical Singapore but life brought me to New Zealand where they certainly are part of most days of the year.

I knitted from designer patterns of Kaffe Fasset whom I have met when he visited. I also liked those of Alice Starmore. And yes, I designed many myself.

Quilting

My impression of quilting are those cardboard hexagons being ‘wrapped’ with fabrics and hand stiched together. So labourious and the result? A total waste of time and work, in my opinion, as they’re not my cup of tea at all. I have an aversion to ‘folksie’ or grannie looking quilts.

The request for a quilt started me off and fortunately, it was for a pattern that is simple and could be given a modern twist. It was surprisingly fun to work on. So, more quilts will be in the making!