By Laura Weltsch
Fondly referred to as "Queen
of the Thread Animals", Berta
from the Netherlands, a quiet,
yet determined woman, is bent
on achieving a mission which
she believes may not solve
any major worldwide problem,
but rather will bring joy and
creativity to the hearts of many!
Her noble quest is to restore
the waning needle arts,
particularly crocheting, so
that they may once again
flourish in the hands
of everyone, everywhere.
Road to Recognition
Since 1999, when her career
began, Berta Hesen-Minten
has increasingly become a name
renowned to teddy bear lovers
for her pioneering, innovatively
unique, crocheted ThReAdTeDs
bears and other animals.
Until a few years ago, crocheted
animals were regarded only as
children's toys, but Berta's fresh
design methods and perspective
have infused new life into this
time-honored craft, transforming
it into a respected genre, desired
More importantly, Berta is also
very well known for her kind and generous spirit.
She unselfishly shares her vast
knowledge and nurturing guidance
within the Yahoo bear making
and thread animal online groups
to which she belongs.
Berta has also provided countless
grateful crocheters worldwide
with some of her patterns
through FREE giveaways and magazine articles.
Last year, she opened the door
for even more thread animal
artists to access her designs
through her groundbreaking
book, ThReAdTeDs™ Secrets & Patterns© (Patronen & Trucs).
Berta's is the very first pattern
book ever published in the
category of crocheted, jointed, miniature animals and is offered
in two languages: English and
Additionally, her abundant number
of global awards and numerous
articles in crochet and teddy bear
collector magazines worldwide,
serve as public recognition of the
level of respect and love she has garnered within both fields.
Jodi Pattern Challenge
Recently, Berta designed a special
ThReAdTeDs pattern, named Jodi,
for use in a Pattern Challenge held
for members of ThreadAnimals,
a Yahoo online crochet group
to which she belongs.
Participants received the brand
new, never before published, soon
to be cherished, pattern FREE.
Each contestant then rendered
their version of the patten within
the rules set by Berta.
Berta singlehandedly organized, administered and publicized the
contest which was covered
editorially in several leading
print and online magazines.
The winner in each of the three categories received a Gold, Silver
or Copper Crochet Hook trophy
specially created for the contest
Yahoo Opens the Door
Berta had never considered the possibililty of selling her creations
outside her small area until she discovered and connected with
several online Yahoo teddy bear
and thread animal artist groups.
"These groups opened a new world
for me when I saw how many bear collectors were out there," explains
"Through the groups and the
wealth of information shared
by the members, I learned
how to sell and the full realm
"If I had remained within the
confines of what I could achieve
only in my own small town, it never would be possible to sell my work
so I did not think about it, until
I saw and learned that it could
be done and I could sell
worldwide through the Internet,"
Loving What You Do!
Thus began the real enjoyment
for Berta, as her passion was
ignited to produce her well-loved, miniature ThrReAdTeDs, created
in various sizes -- all the way
down to a teensy bear that fits
inside of a lipstick tube!
Fun is the order of the day when
Berta is working on her bears.
She gets so caught up in creating
that while she is working on completingone piece, ideas are already popping into her head
for other pieces!
Favorite and Current Styles
Berta is partial to the look of traditional bears, particularly
those which have been given
an "aged appearance".
She especially loves miniature
bears but believes, " they must
have the same intricate detailing
as the bigger bears."
Recently, Berta designed a center
seam bear, but there may not be
time to make many, because
her passion for translating the traditional style to her exacting,
intricate medium, commands most
of her studio time.
Outside of the traditional, this
year Berta has branched into the "funny, weird, wild and strange"
world of her mix between Anime
and Fantasy with her Jut and Jul series.
Jut and Jul can only be adopted
as a couple. However, other
family members can be adopted separately.
Further Ground Breaking
Many needle-arts occupy Berta's interest, and she incorporates
various forms into her bear
making; a knitted sweater here,
a tatted collar there, as she
dreams of creating a bear
of a kind that has never been
Just when she is beginning
to think there is nothing new
under the sun, two art forms
converge in her mind --
crocheting and needle felting!
Neither are completely new
to bear making, but in Berta's
talented hands, they emerge
as a whole new look.
Berta calls these blended designs, cRoFelT Bears. "I always strive
to make unique bears", she
"I don't like to repeat my bears
and designs...and if I do, it
would again be different, by
using another thread, or making
the arms wired, where they
weren't before, and so forth....
I do love working with all kinds
Berta's mixed-media cRoFelT
Bears are a combination of both techniques, crochet and needle
felting, firmly joined together
in a special process that renders them, a single piece.
A favorite design of Berta's is her
highly poseable Flip-Flop Bear.
The most recent ones, she has
filled with glass beads, which she
loves, because "it makes them
more putty-like, in one's hand."
These have wired arms for even
more expressive positions.
"I love the Flip- Flops fitting
in my hand, but I plan to make
a few bigger Flip-Flop Bears, too."
Striving for the Best
Berta's designs continue
to evolve. She always writes
down her stitching process,
disclosing that she would hate
to make a leg with an extra
row, or even a few stitches
more than the other leg.
"Even if it cannot be seen,
when I know one leg has
one more stitch than it should,
I pull it out. It is not that other
might see it, but because
I know it is not correct!"
Writing the steps down not only satisfies her perfectionist nature,
but also helps when she wants
to enlarge, shrink, or otherwise
alter a design.
With her trusty tool box by her
side, Berta is prepared to put
forth the five to eight hours
it takes her to make a miniature ThreadTed, which often will
include a costume incorporating various needle arts, and small
Having all of her creating needs
within easy reach, is essential--
hooks in several sizes, scissors, tweezers, forceps, stuffing,
embroidery thread, eyes, etc.
It's all there, right down to the
odd doo-dads that bring her
inspiration; things like magnets,
a small mirror, a plastic box,
a wooden stick...
All of these oddities spark ideas
in Berta's mind for future tiny
projects-- probably more than
a lifetime's worth of ideas!