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Hina Nitesh of Papertown

Those are the cutest paper cats ever, don’t you agree? I commissioned Hina Nitesh to translate my Warp and Weft into images, and she lived up to my expectations with this wonderful reproduction.

I have the deepest admiration for creators who work with their hands to produce something so detailed and delicate.

We met when we began to participate in craft fairs together and I am thrilled to own a piece of her artistry.

Quilled paper jewellery set of earrings and necklace

Let’s hear what she has to say about her crafting journey.

Why do you craft? And why quilling? Was it a straightforward journey, something you always wanted to do? Or did you get there via other pathways?

Creating something with my hands gives me immense happiness and is also a stress buster. I love to experiment with different media, colours and techniques. I find it difficult to stick to one type of craft form for long so I keep on shuttling between different craft forms. I have tried oil painting, making zentangles, crochet, embroidery, decoupage, candle making, cold porcelain crafts, flower making – some learnt formally while others were self taught. These days (actually for more than a year, probably a record of sorts) I am quilling. It was not something that I started with the aim of making it my calling, but I find it fascinating and it has held my attention thus far.

Green and blue paper quilled jewellery set

Are you a process crafter or a product crafter? Do you do it for the joy of making something, or to enjoy what you’ve made?

I feel that the process and the product are deeply interlinked and it is difficult to distinguish between the two. I enjoy the process of crafting and this is reflected in the product. The joy is both in the making as well as in the product being admired.

What has been your most rewarding crafting moment so far? Can you reproduce it, do you think? Have you tried to?

There have been many rewarding moments, for sure. There are two kinds of people whose appreciation is important to me – one is the total stranger who sees my work at an exhibition or on my page and admires it. The other is my own children who don’t mince words when it comes to ‘honest’ opinion. So, when my children want to gift their friends something made by me, I am over the moon!

I often think of reproducing products that are popular with people. I have tried it with jewellery, but ended with a slightly different product each time. And why not, one of the charms of handmade is that it is different and can be customised.

Customised trinket box with quilled top

What normally gets you down or stops you in your tracks when you’re in the middle of a project? How do you then overcome the hurdle or circumvent it?

Before we talk of ‘stopping in tracks’, let me talk about ‘getting started’ for that is the toughest part for me. I keep thinking about the different aspects, like colours, forms, fonts, etc. In case of a custom order, I also think of the person whose personality I try to reflect. When I am stuck in the middle of the project, unable to decide the way ahead, I look at images (not necessarily quilling) for inspiration. Thankfully, with my craft, the entire canvas is an experiment till it is glued down. This leaves me with a lot of room to experiment. I leave the canvas overnight (or days!!) with strips in place. If I still like it the next day, I glue it all down!

Has your craft changed you? In what way?

Quilling, as an art form, is slow and requires a lot of precision. I spend hours on a project but there is little to show on the canvas. So one of the things that I have learnt is patience. Cutting the strips, rolling them, gluing them down in the perfect place with forceps in my hand – it all makes me realise how important it is to pay attention to the details.

Does your craft define you?

Yes, my craft is now one of the things that define me.

 

Some advice you wish someone had given you when you were still beginning your journey as a crafter?

If you wish to make your craft a source of livelihood, it is a big struggle, especially in the Indian context. I would say, take pride in your work and demand to be paid for it. There will always be people who will appreciate and encourage you – count on them and forget the sceptics. Be a thorough professional and pay attention to everything, from the product to its packaging. Think global by being social media savvy and have an online presence.

Are there still horizons for you to conquer? Which ones, specifically?

Paper is an amazing medium to work with. One, it is easily available and pliable. You can explore forms and geometry, cut it, tear it, fold it, roll it and make it resemble just about anything. With quilling I am just skimming the surface of the immense possibilities that paper offers. Then there are artists like Yulia Brodskaya, Caroline Rose, Gunjan Aylawadi, Parth Kothekar whose work inspires me. So yes, there is a long way to go…

Find Hina’s work on Instagram and Facebook.

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The Artisan Corina

I first met Rohinni Juneja (The Artisan Corina) when a quilting friend brought her home for her to see my looms. Thankfully she’d been forewarned that I’m eccentric, and we hit it off quite well.

Her aesthetic is so different from my own (non-existent) one, as you’ll see from the images of her work that she’s shared with us here. Delicate shades of pastels and pearly hues, and an immense attention to detail mark her output. She’s also an ace at photography, so I’m thrilled to be able to show off her work at its best.

In addition, she appreciates the same sort of absurdity and hubris in human nature as I do, so we’ve chatted late into the night on many occasions.

When first it occurred to me to have a gallery of my favourite craftspeople, she naturally featured, and despite a brand new baby, she very kindly answered all my questions and supplied images. My attempts at illustrating her crafting story likely do not bring out all aspects of her creativity, but I hope they draw you to her. I’ve given her social media links at the bottom of the post for you to explore her oeuvre yourself.

How would you describe yourself?

A highbrow eccentric with an eclectic mix of belongings (material and otherwise). (laughs maniacally for a good 5 minutes)

No, I’m not all that. I’m a simple homebody who finds joy and peace in sewing, embroidery and most other forms of handicraft.

Why do you craft? And why the specific craft(s) you pursue? Was it a straightforward journey, something you always wanted to do?

I craft because working with my hands brings me joy, the repetitive nature of the work brings me peace and the predictability of the result keeps my anxiety at bay.

I craft because working with my hands brings me joy, the repetitive nature of the work brings me peace and the predictability of the result keeps my anxiety at bay.

The final product will maybe warm someone’s home and heart (I’m hoping, most times, since I generally give away most things I craft as gifts).

Flower pouches
Made for my sister’s engagement

 

I’ve always believed that life must not have space for regrets and that’s why I make it a point to try/learn everything I’m given a chance at. I started when I was 6 maybe. My father bought me a wool weaving kit (because I threatened to HELP him with some bits of a hand knotted carpet he was working on) and that was it, there wasn’t any looking back from there. My mother taught me to knit, crochet, sew and whatever else she knew. As simple as it sounds, it wasn’t always so. Raw materials and most basic crafting supplies weren’t easy to find. Oftentimes we’d have to substitute and improvise.

Are you a process crafter or a product crafter? Do you do it for the joy of making something, or to enjoy what you’ve made?

I’m a bit of both. It’s mostly about the process. As someone who suffers from anxiety and insomnia, I find the process very soothing. Also, I’m extremely critical of everything that I make (I don’t eat when I cook (laughs) and it’s not because the food might be horrid) so I don’t think there are too many things on the list that I’ve actually enjoyed.

What has been your most rewarding crafting moment so far? Can you reproduce it, do you think? Have you tried to?

I haven’t gotten there as yet. I don’t believe reproducing items interests me in the least, and to be honest I wouldn’t even try. I am a sloth!

What normally gets you down or stops you in your tracks when you’re in the middle of a project? How do you then overcome the hurdle or circumvent it?

MATH!! I’m horrible with numbers. Of course, my sense of direction would like to compete. Almost always, I calculate and recalculate before I cut for any project. With all the calculation and recalculation (this could last a few days) I have always ended up with pieces of fabric that make no sense when sewn together.

I then recalculate (laughs) and cut the pieces that have already been cut and sew them anyway. So the idea, the interpretation and the final product are always VERY different.

Has your craft changed you? In what way?

Yes, it has. Patience, calm and tired fingers it has gifted me.

Does your craft define you?

It is a large part of who I am, but it does not define me.

(Ed.: The bag above was made for someone in a swap, who later sold it. The buyer was Shamlu Dudeja, known for her role in reviving Kantha.)

Some advice you wish someone had given you when you were still in the beginning of your journey as a crafter?

I wish someone had told me that it’s OK to give up sometimes. That it’s OK to put down that crazily failed product into the prototype bin and move on. That doing and redoing the “imperfect” bits may not always give you the desired results.

That doing and redoing the “imperfect” bits may not always give you the desired results. That it’s best to start over sometimes.

That it’s best to start over sometimes. And, that being stubborn isn’t always good.

Are there still horizons for you to conquer? Which ones, specifically?

I can’t even begin with that list (laughs). There is so much out there to learn. First on my list, at the moment, is to learn to organise my workspace. Once I’ve conquered that, I can’t wait to travel and meet the world.

Mixed media mini quilt
Mixed media mini quilt

There you have my tiny snapshot of a crafter who amazes, enchants and inspires me. Before you go, I can’t resist sharing what might be my favourite example of her work.

 

Cross stitch owl
Cross stitch owl

You can find Rohinni on Instagram and on Facebook.

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Product or process?

Franklin has just written about this.

We have a Question of the Week thread at the South Asian Crafters forum on Ravelry, and someone asked for our favourite three projects, that make us proud. I couldn’t offhand think of any and had people jumping on me because I said so. I feel I am a Process knitter (or crocheter or weaver) because most of the time the things I make are irrelevant to my location/situation, but I make them anyway, because the process interests me. How about you?

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Amazing Clare

I met someone on the Georgette Heyer mailing list who mentioned that she crochets. I couldn’t stop myself, and wrote to her, asking her how and what. She sent me this photo of a debutante dress she made for her daughter. I thought it was amazing, and had to share with you:

amydebsdress.jpg

She made it with double knit cotton and most amazingly, made up the pattern herself. I thought it was lovely. Don’t you? Clare lives in Ireland.

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Rara avis

I flew back to Cochin from Hyderabad last week, and while I was waiting in the security lounge at Hyderabad airport (for the last time probably, as a new one is scheduled to open next month), I saw a lady walk past, wearing a silk blouse and pale green trousers, with matching shoes. Through my mind ran the thought…I wonder how she keeps those clean, and if one ought to have shoes that match different clothing. I’m lazy myself, and generally buy brown or black ones (in handbags also) so that they match everything! I’m always in awe of anyone who can perfectly accessorise. And my lighter coloured clothes are sure to get stained very shortly after being worn.

I’d scarcely finished the thought when she sat down, and took out her knitting! Yes, I finally met a knitter in public (not in someone’s house). She kindly allowed me to bust in rudely and spoil her peace sit with her and chat until my flight was called. I’d packed away my hook and thread because I’m not very sure about passing them through security. Jennifer, if you’re reading this, thank you! It was so exciting!

Knitting in public!

As you can see, she’s knitting the continental way with the yarn being fed by the left hand. I watched her, and it’s the middle finger that does the feeding. The yarn is wrapped around her forefinger for tension. I told her I doubted my middle finger has enough control to do that work. My forefinger is of course used to controlling tension for crochet, but with a single wrap only.

So far when I’ve tried the picking method, I assumed that the end of the right needle should pick up the yarn from my left hand, but obviously, without a hook on the end, this is an iffy business at best. All I end up doing is poking a hole in my left forefinger, and getting back to throwing the yarn. Perhaps that’s why I’m a slow knitter. What I need is someone to sit with me and show me how. I don’t think I could learn from videos.

Jennifer also sent me a picture of a baby set she made for a friend, very cute! Almost convinces me I need to try colourwork.

vidhus-babys-outfit.jpg

Isn’t that cute? I wish I could have talked more with her. It is a rare bird, a public knitter in the circles I move in.

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The things you learn

I was checking my blog stats today from the dashboard and I noticed a click-through from a new-to-me blog. I went there and found she has me on her blogroll 😳 Yay! Then I checked out her bio and her “50 things“. I especially like her yarn holder, as I’ve been using a Yarn Thimble on my latest project and have some issues with it (it makes my finger sweat, and leaves it stiff because I cannot bend it as I would if it weren’t there. I think Lucy wanted to know about it when first I received it a few months ago.)

Check out her Yarn Holder. And I thought listing stuff you’ve finished this year under 50 things was cool.

She’s made the same Hook Caddy I’d made, but in a much preeetier colour :mrgreen: And she’s got interesting things poking out of it. Are they ergonomic hook handles, I wonder? Maybe I should just ask her.

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Sappy question

In a blatant attempt to get more comments, I have a sappy question to ask my faithful (mostly silent) readers.

Do you have someone who asks you how you are doing? Who notices your moods? Does it matter to you if you do or don’t? (This may seem like several sappy questions, but it’s all the same thing I’m talking about, really). Do you have someone to vent at? Or are you of the class that believes what happens inside you should stay inside, no matter if it kills you?

Answers awaited with bated breath.

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Saying no

How do you say “NO” to Lady Catherine de Brough?

Especially when she’s hard-of-hearing and not the sharpest needle in the stash?