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About Helen Jordan

How it all started

Helen Jordan learned to crochet from her cousin and made a granny square floor cushion to take to College in the mid seventies. Academia took its toll and she did not pick up the hook again until she found the February 1983 edition of 'Anna' magazine, with a lovely ’strawberries and cream’ crocheted jacket on the cover. After four or five years of working out what she was going to do with her ‘spare’ time, she met Pauline Turner at a number of craft exhibitions, went on a one-day course, signed up for the (now International) Diploma in Crochet and she has been crocheting ever since. Her one regret is being unable to crochet while fully occupied with either driving or sleeping.

Progress on the Diploma

Helen completed Part I of the Diploma in around 18 months. She now says, ‘I used to think I could crochet, before I started the Diploma … now I’m not so sure! There is so much to learn. It’s a brilliant craft!’  Having got bogged down with Part II, Helen sought Pauline’s permission to start on Part III – with the full intention of completing Part II at the appropriate time for her. Helen chose as her theme Edward Lear’s poem, ‘The Owl and the Pussycat’.

"The Owl and the Pussycat went to sea,
In a beautiful pea green boat.
They took some honey and plenty of money,
Wrapped up in a five pound note.
The owl looked up to the stars above,
And he sang to a small guitar,
Oh, lovely Pussy, oh Pussy, my love,
What a beautiful Pussy you are, you are, you are,
What a beautiful Pussy you are.

Pussy said to the Owl, ‘You elegant fowl,
How charmingly sweet you sing.
Oh let us be married, too long have we tarried,
But what shall we do for a ring?’
They sailed away for a year and a day,
To the land where the Bong Tree grows,
And there in a wood, a piggy-wig stood,
With a ring at the end of his nose, his nose, his nose,
With a ring at the end of his nose.

‘Dear pig, are you willing to sell for one shilling
Your ring?’ Said the piggy, ‘I will.’
They took it away and were married next day,
By the Turkey who lives on the hill.
They dined on mince and slices of quince,
Which they ate with a runcible spoon.
And hand in hand on the edge of the sand,
They danced by the light of the moon, the moon, the moon,
They danced by the light of the moon."

The majority of the photographs displayed here are of two of the projects: the Bong Tree, which is complete and the Pea Green Boat, which is very much a work-in-progress.

The Bong Tree

Helen enjoys working on a large scale and the Bong Tree grew from its early plans of being based on a free standing wooden coat rack and golfing umbrella, to a magnificent specimen based on a slightly ‘pruned’ garden parasol. The canopy was prepared as an inverted cup shape in thick yarn, with a very thick hook. The ‘eruptions’ of foliage were created over a number of years, including stints ‘manning’ the Knitting & Crochet Guild stand at the Harrogate 'Knitting and Stitching Show'. The trunk is woven strips of machine knitted mohair, some of which was hand dyed in vats of tea and/or coffee. The tree really does go ‘Bong!’ thanks to the insertion of a large wind chime, suitably modified to suit its location within the artwork. Thanks to a comment from her mother-in-law, the tree is also internally lit by a parasol lamp and three spot lights.   Off and on, the piece took around five years to complete and is currently in store in a number of locations in and around her home.

The Pea Green Boat

This is another project which has undergone a number of significant changes. The original boat structure was a child’s inflatable dinghy. This was sunk when one of Helen’s cats punctured the plastic skin, when the crochet cover was well on the way to completion. Fortunately, not too long after this scary moment, her long-suffering husband, Mike, spotted a boat shaped sand pit outside a local toy shop – and the rest, as they say, is history. The plastic boat moulding is distinctly smaller than the original and there was a great deal of consideration given as to how to proceed. The option of starting from scratch was rapidly discarded, as being too much like hard work. Cutting the crochet on each row and securing it back into a tube was deemed to be similarly time consuming. Gathering the fabric around the ‘hull’ was not successful and in the end a big pleat was made and placed at the stern of the vessel.

The sail is one of the 15 compulsory samples for Part III – "fill an irregular shaped hole with crochet". The shape of the hole is based on the initial letters of the leading characters. Helen is indebted to Dorothy Burton of Bentham, a fellow Diploma student for machine sewing around the hole to prevent it from fraying, as Helen generally reckons not to know how to handle a sewing machine!

Another of the compulsory samples – "join four same shape pieces of different types of textile" – were formed into the pennant.

Ideas for the interior fittings of the Pea Green Boat are under development.

Final Display

At some currently un-stated time in the future, Helen intends to mount a display of all the work related to Part III of the International Diploma in Crochet within a 3m square gazebo, as she has devised all the samples to form a part of a composite whole. With the scale at which she works and the distraction of running her own business, this is going to take some time. She would dearly love to make it a multi-media presentation, but is not sure how to achieve this.

Thread of Life

Towards the end of 2005, Helen started her own business, which she has called HJJ Thread of Life. The web site, www.threadoflife.co.uk is currently under construction. Do bookmark the site and have a look to see what she is up to.

Through her business, Helen is dealing with all aspects of crochet, from making and selling items, selling designs to yarn manufacturers, doing pattern checking/technical editing of other authors’ work, to submitting a proposal for a book of textured crochet patterns to a book publisher in London. She is also having a great deal of fun hand-dyeing yarns and she is offering these for sale online.

Helen is taking over from Pauline Turner the order-by-post side of the Crochet Design business from 1st July 2006. Details will be made available as soon as humanly possible.

Why the business name? Well, Helen feels that all of life is interconnected, with creativity being a basic human drive, so that forms one strand of the thread; another strand is the yarn that she uses in her own work; a third is her wish to be able to bring the joy of creativity to others, which she does through offering workshops to individuals and groups.

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