Welcome to “An Introduction To Defining And Categorising Craft Techniques”, a mini series on the roles of language and taxonomy in crafting! I’ll walk you through some popular techniques in the fabric and thread arts, discuss definitions and their translations to Finnish and Swedish, and how they differ from other similar techniques.
The Blog Posts
These are the blog posts in this series:
- What Is Embroidery?
- How Rug Hooking, Needle Punching And Tufting Differ From One Another
- What Is Pile Knotting?
- How Latch Hooking, Locker Hooking And Rug Hooking Differ From One Another
- How Latch Hooking And Ryijy Making Differ From One Another
Links will be added when the post is published.
The tools used in each technique will be discussed as will the foundation fabrics.
The two significant times I realised the importance of understanding techniques and language in crafting happened years ago, first in some beginner-level knitting class on Craftsy. The teacher talked about “the fabric”. Huh? We’re knitting here! What’s fabric to do with this?
Knitting and crochet are two techniques with which you create fabric from yarn. You start with yarn, and through various simple or complex motions, that very same blob of potential can turn into the most breath-takingly intricate fabric.
But store-bought fabric is flat!? Yes, it can be. There are many types of fabric, though, one of which is the “flat”, woven kind using warp for strength in the length-wise direction, and weft for “added interest” in the cross-wise direction. Weaving requires great skill to create sturdy fabric that holds together. Sewers and quilters are familiar with this, too, especially when cut pieces of woven fabrics begin to fray quickly.
Then there’s knits. These you find in the typical t-shirt, but it doesn’t stop yet. Jersey is one kind, another is interlocked. They don’t fray like wovens thanks to being constructed differently. Knits give hints to what happens in both knitting and crochet.
The basic knit and purl stitches of knitting create regular yarn loops, which lock into one another. They just happen to be larger compared to those found in knit fabrics.
This brings me on to yarn, the second major a-ha moment back in the day. Yarn is a type of thread. All yarn is thread, but not all thread is yarn. Yarn is often thick compared to threads such as sewing thread, whether intended to be used by hand or machine.
I’ve never looked the same at crafting since these experiences.
Where I’m Coming From
I have a degree in science and have been reading books since five years of age. Language matters and I don’t want to participate in diluting it any further.
When launching Sentti & Tuuma last year, I opened a can of worms. There are numerous sellers of craft supplies, who choose to sell products in their native languages by not translating the names. Why?
We have two perfectly good, working languages in Finnish and Swedish, so there’s no need to introduce English as standardised names unless absolutely necessary. It’s pure laziness to publish a product in a webshop with its English name only.
Precision matters in translating techniques as well. A recent flop is to call needle punching “tufting” as translated to both Finnish (tuftaus) and Swedish (tuftning).
Sure, you can start the tufting process with a tufting gun to make a rug, but it’s only the first step that creates loops like in needle punching. To achieve a flat, cut surface of the tufted rug, loops are then cut open for a “tufted” finish.
My inner taxonomist screams a bit when someone, again due to pure laziness, didn’t do the work before introducing both technique and tool in these countries. Why dilute borders between techniques?
In the age of the internet, we have one chance to get it right when hitting “publish” of products, blog posts, pages and other materials. Categorising correctly, being meticulous, and taking pride in one’s work, well, doesn’t this matter today when everything should be so fast and no real thinking has to happen? When did precision, craftsmanship and honing skills go out of fashion?
Maybe it’s old-school but I subscribe to the idea that rules are broken only after I can demonstrate the original way it was done. Improvements to techniques are obviously welcome in order to optimise time and resources spent, but I shy away from the haphazardly thrown together stuff that can’t even be called dabbling in something. Do some research first, and all that jazz 🙂
I recently took a course in latch hooking and there were so many errors in addition to general sloppiness that I thought it unfair to pay actual money to get access to the material. This is an unfortunate side effect of today’s otherwise fantastic attitude that anyone can be a teacher.
I hereby declare Sentti & Tuuma to be a safe haven for introverts in particular, the quietly beautiful and contemplative work, and where precision is a guiding star. I wish you welcome to join me on this slower journey of exploring mindfully, with non-judgemental curiosity and joy of discovery!
Photo credit: Amador Loureiro.