About 25 people gathered at Pier 21 last Saturday to try their hand at the ancient art of Chinese Knot making.
The practice is primarily ceremonial and for decorative purposes. The Confucius Institute (St. Mary's University) put on the workshop in preparation for the Chinese New Year on Feb. 10.
Wendi Chen, one of the instructors at the workshop, said there are 14 basic knots in total, which can be expanded to create large intricate pieces.
"We use the knots at weddings, festivals and even in our clothes," Chen said. "We are showing some very simple, basic knots. It's a very important part of Chinese culture."
This workshop is a follow up to the popular Chinese paper cutting that was demonstrated last year.
"For us, knot making is like decorating a Christmas tree for you," Chen said. "In our family we use this to show that a new year is coming."
There were three different knots being made at the workshop, the first was an auspicious knot, a decorative knot traditionally made for good fortune. Participants also made bookmarks and bracelets with different knot styles.
"There are 14 basic knots and I know them all well, if I had enough time I could make all here," Chen said. "Personally, I enjoy doing it because it's fun. We always do it as a family together; it's what we do in China. It just feels good to do."
Future workshops from the Confucius Institute could include more advanced knot making, calligraphy, painting and Chinese games according to a representative.
One of those taking part in the workshop was Jennifer Trevors, who has run her own craft workshops in the past.
"I just like to learn new crafts any chance I get," Trevors said as she twirled the string, following along with the instructor. "So far it's not too difficult, pretty straight forward as long as you follow along. It's a very decorative art, and I like that aspect of it."
Trevors also runs a craft-making blog, thecraftinista.com, which is one of the reasons why she wanted to check out Chinese knot making.
"I've done other types of cultural crafts before, so I figured it would be a nice new skill to learn," she said, noting she taught a workshop on Amigurumi, a type of Japanese crocheting of small toys.
"For me, it's also all about the fun."
The Chinese knot making workshop was part of the Discover Culture program at The Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21. Discover Culture is an outreach and community development program designed to share Canada's cultural diversity as a result of our immigration history. The program invites local cultural groups or practitioners to share their cultural activity with the public at the museum. Workshops involve an introduction to the cultural history of the activity, followed by demonstrations and hands-on participation. The programs are not watch-and-learn activities, but are rather do-and-learn activities. Discover Culture provides practitioners or cultural groups with the opportunity to educate the general public about their cultural practices, inspiring greater awareness and understanding of how immigrant groups in Canada contribute to the diversity of the nation. For more information visit - www.pier21.ca