If you’ve known me for any length of time, chances are you’ve found out that I looooove Tasha Tudor. When I came across a book about her life quite by chance in a bookstore bargain bin, I knew I’d found a kindred spirit. I was a poor college kid at the time, but I knew I had to have that book. Thank goodness the cover had a tear in it and I got it on markdown. Thus, a life long love affair was born….
A talented artist, writer and craftswoman, Tasha Tudor is an American treasure. I can think of few people who can match her in crafting a life that utterly suited their passions and interests. And I can think of even fewer whose passions and interests so mirror my own. From painting at a little table with a dog under foot, to making dolls or spinning up yarn or wearing funny little old timey outfits, all the things she loved are things I love too. I am, obviously, a hopelessly besotted fangirl.
And while that first book I found about her, The Private World of Tasha Tudor will forever be a favorite, another book I’ve been pouring over lately and loving is Tovah Martin’s book “Tasha Tudor’s Heirloom Crafts.” It describes and beautifully shows (with the photos of photographer Richard Brown) all the old fashioned crafts and skills Tasha retained and took part on throughout her life.
From spinning and dyeing to quilt making and basketry, Tasha indulged in a treasure trove of heritage crafts. Now I am dabbling in these sorts of crafts, and it makes me admire her all the more. How she did it all, who knows; but I’m starting to feel a real fascination and connection to these old ways of creating.
In my yarn dyeing pursuits I’ve played around with manmade dye as well as natural and I have to say….nature’s colors are always the most interesting and are the ones that catch my eye. The synthetics are too….I dont know…bright and perfect. They are almost sterile in their perfection. A good natural dye, however, has an innate earthiness to it (because what is it really, but earth?) and the hues are much more interesting. It can be varigated too—- which makes for a more interesting yarn and knitted project. And amazingly, all the natural colors seem to harmonize much better than synthetic hues, which can clash. I continue to be amazed by how much nature always compliments itself in these projects.
And so, even though I am far from perfect or not even close to the craftswoman Tasha was, I keep at it. Because I get a little better each time I knit something or sew something or make new yarn. There is no ‘app’ to improve these handcrafts; it can only be honed by repetition and time. Keep on going, and keep on improving.
And perhaps one day, several decades down the line, I will have reached Tasha Tudor status in my abilities….one can only hope!