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Tuesday, July 7, 2020

An Interview with Karen Negus

Hello, Lovely Tatters!

Well, as promised, I have the interview with Karen Negus of Tatting for Spirit.  I have to admit to being very happy to "meet" her.  I have chatted with her and she's absolutely wonderful.  Charming, funny, and she's from Nova Scotia!  Not too far from my old stompin' ground, too!  Ah, such a small world, indeed!  And folks, she's a lefty to boot!  

Just to show you what kind of work she does, I "borrowed" a picture from her Etsy page to show you the exquisite work Karen presents and creates.  


Is this not exquisite?!

As I have done with previous interviews, I will present the question in black, with the response in red italics in Karen's own words.  So,without further "ado", I have the honour of presenting a conversation with Ms. Karen Negus of Musquodoboit Harbour, Nova Scotia Canada?!

1. How long have you been tatting?

I have been needle tatting since 1996, after watching a segment on Aleene's Creative Living Show. The kit they were selling had the 2 Book set of Needle Tatting by Barbara Foster. I had always been attracted to needle crafts, and as soon as I found out there were photographic instructions for left handed people, I knew this was the needle craft for me. I absolutely fell in love with the geometric designs, and have been tatting ever since. For a period of 3 years, I made my own tatting needle from wooden or bamboo knitting needles
With file and extremely fine drill bits, and my father’s old European miniature electric drill, I would turn knitting needles into tatting needles, so we could then tat with beautifully hand spun yarns and make wearable items in a fraction of the time. Life events lead to an indefinite hiatus in my
needle-making. If I have enough interest, I could start making them again.

2. What first drew you to learn?

See above

3. How did you learn; did you have a teacher?

The kit I purchased included both, Book 1 and Book 2, as well as 3 different sized tatting needles. I taught myself purely from the step by step photographic instructions. I continue to teach myself different techniques from other talented tatters. And some things, I simply improvise.

4. Needle, shuttle, both? Why?

I am a needle tatter, who for the past 20 or so years, has been saying she will learn the shuttle, but there just never seems to be enough time to relearn something. Although I would imagine it would come rather quickly. A few years back, I had been invited to join the Nova Scotia Fibre Festival, a yearly event held in Amherst, Nova Scotia. Many lovely ladies would stop by and watch a demonstration of needle tatting with yarn. I heard several times from different shuttle tatters, that the needle looked so much easier to do. And from another group of ladies, I have  old that there are things you can do with a shuttle that you cannot do with a needle and vise versa. But the one thing that amazes most of the shuttle tatters I have encountered, is that if you have made an error, you can untie back to the error, then carry on again. They like learning with a needle, you can tat any gauge of yarn or thread, hand or machine spun, as long as you have the right needle size. No winding bobbins, cutting, sewing in, or restarting. One day, I do hope to make it a priority to learn shuttle tatting. I have a lovely antique shuttle I would like to try.

5. What do you get from this artform?

Tatting for me is several things. I absolutely love tatting with handspun yarns. The texture and fibres bring a whole new dimension to tatting. I enjoy the challenge in transcribing patterns from shuttle into my own for easy legibility. I started doing this very soon after I began tatting. I found it time consuming trying to find my place in a pattern, especially the older ones that were written for magazines. I enjoy experimenting with different fibres to achieve different results.
And I really enjoy finding functional ways to use tatted lace. I have recently started sewing, and look forward to incorporating the two together. And lastly, I love how tatting is a small needlecraft that you can tuck away in your purse for
those long appointment waits.

6. Are any other family members tatters?

No, I am the only needle tatting. My mother is a lifelong knitter, my dad enjoys designing and making models. I did teach my youngest daughter once how to tat, and she did complete a small hexagon motif. In order to teach her, I had to teach myself how to tat right handed. Which ended up being rather useful when doing demonstrations.

7. Do you have an online “presence”; a blog or Facebook page you’d like to see folks visit
more?

No, I basically have my Etsy Shop, and my Tatting for Spirit Facebook page.

8. Have you published any books or patterns, designed any gadgets or developed any techniques?

For a period of 3 years, I made my own tatting needle from wooden or bamboo knitting needles. With file and extremely fine drill bits, and my father’s old European miniature electric drill, I would turn knitting needles into tatting needles, so we could then tat with beautifully hand spun yarns and make wearable items in a fraction of the time. Life events lead to an indefinite hiatus in my needle making. If I have enough interest, I could start making them again. I have also written a set of Step by Step Photographic Instructions to teach yourself how to Needle Tat, for both left and right handed people. And I currently have 6 patterns in varying
levels of difficulties. I’m a super small business, and print these myself. If this constitutes as published, then I guess I’m published!

9. Does your family support your art? What kinds of accommodations do they make?

Most definitely. My daughters have modeled pieces, I’ve had friends test and try out my crystal healing pieces, and others who have tried out my headbands for warmth during bitter
temperatures.

10. What does tatting do for you?

I always have to have something to do and something to stimulate my mind. I suffer from a few musculoskeletal issues and arthritis, so tatting gives me something to focus on.

11. Have you entered competitions? Shows? Anything you’d like to brag about? 

I’ve won a few first place ribbons at the local country exhibition. And I have also had a pair of earrings reviewed for a fashion article on handmade lace for Lucky Magazine. 

12. What do you hope to accomplish with your art?

Nothing other than creative things that make people feel good, either by the fibres or colours
used.

13. Is there anything you DON’T like about tatting? 

No, I’m very particular about presentation, so my customers know they are getting a high quality handmade product.

14. Have you taught others to tat? Are any of your family members interested in learning? 

I have done a 3 hr workshop, only to discover that in order for someone to retain what they have learned, many more hours are needed. One of these days, I hope to teach a workshop that compliments my Step by Step Photographic Instructions.

15. Where do you see this art form in general in, say, 20 years? 

I don’t see any change in the artform itself in the future, but perhaps it’s application. Tatting is very time consuming. Most have discovered that. Which is why I really enjoy tatting with yarn and larger needles. For the same amount of time, the end result is so much larger. This will make it less intimidating making large projects. And hopefully more can enjoy this beautiful art of knots. 

16. Anything you’d like to say about tatting in general?

It’s not crochet! Whew, finally I have been able to say that. I don’t know how many times over the years, I have heard people say as they glance over a shoulder “Oh, that’s crocheted, I can do that!” It is not crocheted, it is tatted, and yes there is a huge difference, especially in the time.
Out of frustration, I taught myself some basic crochet stitches just to understand this comment. I haven’t gotten carried away with crocheting yet, but enough to make a flower in a third of the time it would take to make a comparable tatted flower. These are two different fibre crafts, one done more quickly and with far more stitches and design options, the other more time consuming and distinctive. Let’s give credit where credit is due to each respective crafts.

I have to admit, this was a fun interview.  Karen knows her stuff, she knows what she wants from her art, and she has the talent to get it done.  I've had a peek at her Etsy shop and you will NOT be disappointed!  You can see her shop, Tatting for Spirit, here:  http://www.tattingforspirit.etsy.com.

If you have any questions for this lovely lady, she has also included her email address: tfsfibrearts@gmail.com.

I can't think of anything else to say, other than go see what she has to offer.  She has OODLES of things to satisfy your fancy.  

Karen, chatting back and forth with you has been an absolute pleasure and I hope we can continue to do so!  I wonder if there are any other "secret places" along Eastern Shore beside Ecum Secum?  (inside joke, folks, sorry).

Happy Tatting!

Saturday, July 4, 2020

Some New Stuff

Hello Lovely Tatters!!  Just in case you hadn't noticed, I've been playing around with my blog layout and I've added a couple of things you might like.

I have to thank Theresa Clouatre for bringing to my attention the fact that I didn't have a "Followers" button that would allow people to keep up with my posts. You'll have to go all the way to the bottom of the blog near where there's a little information about me, but it's there. Thank you very much, Theresa, I'm sorry I missed that over the last few years.  Actually, if you've seen how irregularly I've been posting, it really shouldn't surprise anyone.

Another feature I've added is the "Contact Me" option.  Every once in a while I get asked questions and the souls asking have to either find me on Facebook, or snoop through all the blog entries.  I really do apologize for that.  Another oversight on my part that I hope has been corrected.

I have, however, been asked to update my "background".  Apparently, some folks haven't really looked at it, just that it's dark and sometimes difficult to read.  Well, here's the reason I chose the background that is here: It looks like a living room.

Think about it!  There's an easy chair with nice arms on it, where you can curl up with a good book, your tatting, or just to watch some television (which is conveniently placed nearby).  The phone is there on the wall.  I know, we all have cell phones or cordless phones at home, but I used to work in Sherbrooke Village in Nova Scotia and it's one of the only places in the country that has an active network that can power the antique phones like this.  I've actually used one of those things, and it's a real hoot!  Just that little piece you hold up to your ear was heavier than my tablet!  I guess it's how they kept people from having lengthy conversations and tying up the line.

In short, I chose the background because it felt like home.  My safe place. A place where I can bring my friends.  A place I can have knotty conversations with anyone, even just myself.

We all need a "safe place".  I know I've been in many places in my lifetime where I didn't exactly feel comfortable, but if I had something in my pocket to do, I could go to that "safe place" in my head and I really did feel better.  We ALL need that.  I don't care who you are or what you do, we are all human and human beings need to be able to have a place to go where they are free of needing to protect themselves against those that try to bring us down or threaten our well-being, physical or emotional.  Your "safe place" can be a physical place, but I have built myself a lovely comfy space where no one comes in unless I expressly invite them.

Now that I've explained my background, I hope you find your own "safe place".  And I hope you go there often to get some privacy from what maybe makes you feel not-so-safe. 

Happy Tatting! 






Friday, July 3, 2020

Coming Soon!

Hello Lovely Tatters!!  I appear to be on a roll!  This is the third post this week!

In case anyone is interested, I'm going to have two interviews to present soon.  I've already presented some questions I posed to Samantha Melnychuk, author of three books ("A Veritable Tatted Blizzard", "Teeny Tatted Snowflakes" and "The Psychedelic Shuttle") and Gloria Nelson, developer of the Bare Threadspace and Picot Tool, the genius behind Sparkling Light Creation Studio and administrator of "Needle Tatting: for beginners" on Facebook.

Shortly, I hope to have submissions from Victoria Clarke, author of "Brace Yourself" and "Tatting the Stone", and another from Karen Negus, proprietress of the Etsy shop "Tatting for Spirit".  Victoria is from Ontario and Karen is from nearby my old stomping ground in Nova Scotia.  I was pretty excited!

Someone asked why I am endeavouring to interview Canadian tatting artists.  Well, because they aren't as well-known as some of the other artists out there and we (Canadian tatters) are a pretty talented bunch!  Unfortunately, Canadians as a general rule aren't all that great at tooting our own horns, so I decided I would like to try and blow the horn for them.

If you're like me and struggling along trying to learn how to do this on your own, please reach out to someone.  When I learned, as is the case with so many other tatters that are old enough to remember life before YouTube and the internet, we learned from poorly written books, badly rendered pictures, or from grandma or a great auntie that just wasn't all that patient with small fingers anymore, even though they tried their best to impart their wisdom.

When I was learning, I felt alone.  I didn't think anyone did this anymore.  I had certainly never heard of needle tatting, then I got reading some books written a long time ago by some very narrow-visioned people who stated that the shuttle was the only "true" tatting tool.  Unfortunately, I followed that assumption for a very long time and if I've offended anyone by telling them they weren't doing "real tatting", I'm truly sorry.  

I've since met and interacted with some extremely talented needle tatters and I'm proud to say I'm dedicated to doing both.  If I have a skill in shuttle tatting, I do what I can to find a comparable way to make that same technique with a needle.  When I write a pattern, I make sure I can do it with both tools.  If I don't like how it looks, I adjust things so that it can be made with either a needle or a shuttle.  I'm not going to lie; using a needle does cause me some pain so I use a pair of vinyl-jawed pliers to pull my needle through the stitches when needed, but we all have to do what we need to do to finish our projects.  I'm not going to apologize for hurting, but I will try and do something to the best of my ability the way that works best for me.

Which brings me to another thought:  tool choice.  I see so many new tatters ask "which do you prefer, needle or shuttle and why?"  Oh, my, that answer is unique to each tatter.  Just because there are two tools does not mean you have to choose one over the other and be forever chained to your choice!  If you're able to wrap your head around both tools, then do so!  You'll be so much better able to understand what it's like to be in another's shoes if you know how they're using their equipment.

There is no right or wrong way to hold your needle or your shuttle.  If you're making the stitches the right way and you're having fun, then it is no one else's place to tell you whether you're doing it right or wrong?  There are artists in this world that are tatting with one hand!  Are you going to tell them they're holding their shuttle the wrong way?  I'm certainly not going to!  Are you going to tell a blind tatter she isn't holding the thread the right way?  I'm not going there!  i am simply amazed they're able to do what they do, and I hope that if one day I meet a challenge to my art, then I can find an adjustment to how I'm doing it so I don't have to stop!

Watch now as I step off my soap box and stow it neatly under my chair so I can get back to my current project;.

Happy Tatting!



Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Why?

Hello, Lovely Tatters!  Happy Canada Day to you all!!  Soon it will be International Lace Day (July 5, 2020), so I hope you're all prepared to get yourself to a comfy public place with your current project and show the world what a "dead" art looks like when it's not dead at all!  

Whenever I hear someone say stuff like that, I think of Groucho Marx's quote that went something like:  "The news of my death has been greatly exaggerated!".  It's true!  There are SO many people tatting, and more learning how every day.  Seriously, it's knot a lost art!  My Jeep even says so!!


I have one of these on either side of my vehicle on the back wing windows.  It certainly makes people take note.  It also makes my Renegade easier to find in a parking lot because it seems EVERYONE here drives an SUV of some kind!  (By the way, if you'd like one for YOUR vehicle, email Shawna Wachs at shawna.wachs@gmail.com.  Tell her Shelley sent you!) 

I got asked today "why do you write a blog if you aren't sure anyone is going to find it?"  Well, that's not really all that hard to answer.

No, I'm not sure anyone is going to read my blog.  It doesn't have the reach a great many other bloggers might have, but that's okay.  The reason behind doing it is simple: It's important to ME.  Yes, it is.

I spend a great amount of time on my own.  I don't have many places to travel so I can't have knotty conversations in person with like-minded people all that often.  The last two years I was able to go to Indiana and actually MEET the people behind the names on the vitual tatting groups.  It was amazing.  The one thing that bothered me, though, was how few Canadians there seemed to be in the groups.

I know I spent a good many years tatting away on my own, not knowing if there were other tatters anywhere nearby.  It felt very isolating, and the comments such as: "I didn't think anyone did that anymore" or "I thought that was dead" or "my gramma did that but I couldn't be bothered" really annoyed me!  

Another thing that I found very inconvenient was the lack of places to purchase supplies in Canada.  Yes, there are shops in the United States that will happily help you, but then you're paying the exchange, duties, and higher shipping costs.  That didn't work for me, either.  Not everyone lives in a border town. A ball of thread that's $3.50 USD can end up costing significantly more in Canadian dollars.

Furthermore, I thought it would be a very cool idea to showcase Canadian tatters.  It's always interesting to see where they came from, how they learned, what they're thinking, and where they'd like to see tatting go.

So, I thought I would try to research and source places or people that would be Canadian, accessible, and willing to cater to Canadian tatters, be they needlers or shuttlers.

That, my dear friends, is what has led me to this blog, and I hope that answers the question I have been getting frequently, "why do you write a blog?"

Oh...one last reason:  I write this  because it's fun!

Happy Tatting!

Sunday, June 28, 2020

Surviving a Pandemic

Hello, Lovely Tatters.  Here we are, in full swing with a re-opening after a global pandemic that has seen many of us weather upheavals we really hadn't expected.  Some of us are coming out on the other side of this completely unscathed and our families are unaffected.  Still others are still in a place where health measures are in effect  because they still have actively increasing numbers of infections.  Sadly, there are far too many others that have been directly affected by this destructive virus and have either cared for someone that was ill or suffered the loss of someone close to them.  I offer my very deepest and most sincere condolences.

My husband and I have both been laid off since at least the end of March.  While he has been called back to his job for a few days here and there, there is hope that he will be able to go back to work, even part-time, in the near future.

I, on the other hand, have been advised that my layoff is permanent.  A full-time job we depended on because I had extended health benefits has vanished into thin air.

This break has, however, given me some perspective.  I have to admit that I did NOT like my job.  My co-workers were very exclusive.  I wasn't "into" going to church or making greeting cards, and I didn't know any of the same people they did. Going to work was an exercise in loneliness toward the end because even though I did more physical work and worked hard to learn the new system to make me more viable as an employee, it didn't make me any more comfortable in the office.  They continued to ignore me.

So, here I am, actually thinking about a future where I can do what I want for a change.  What does that look like?

Well, for starters, I've started on a book of patterns.  Yup, I'm finally listening to my tatty friends and putting all my knotty thoughts into a book to share with others.

I am sewing again for the first time in a long time.  I have some lovely fabric I'm going to make into some dress shirts for Beloved for when he has to go back to work (He has to wear a dress shirt to work in summer.  It's miserable, but lighter fabric and a properly fitted shirt will make him more comfortable).

I've started a vegetable garden.  I will actually even look at expanding same next year!  Our potato "condo" looks to be producing between 30 and 50 lbs of taters this time round!  I can just imagine looking up recipes for what to do with potatoes no one else wants.  I'm having nightmares where I show up with potatoes at people's houses and they chase me off because they can't use any more, LOL.

I'm thinking of starting to paint ornaments again, too.  It has been 10 years since I painted an egg or a lightbulb, but I will go see if I can still manage to make something someone might like to have.  I sure hope my paints are still liquid!

I supposed what I'm trying to say is:  Look for the glass and fill it as full as you want.  You don't need to be miserable.  If you have a craft, take advantage of your time away from the stress and strain of having to juggle everything OUTSIDE your home and make the most of the time INSIDE your home and indulge yourself in your craft.  You will be astonished at the quality of your result when you have unlimited time to devote to what you like to do.

Become a better friend to yourself and you'll be surprised how much better a friend you can be to others.  Start something new and take this time to learn about it.  I knew nothing about gardening, but I'm learning lots!  It helps to keep from dwelling on all the nasty outside.  It makes you happier.  It makes you healthier.  It surely makes you more fun to be with!

As for me, I'm off to see if I can figure out a new way to make a Catherine Wheel Join work right after another feature.  Wish me luck, folks!

Happy Tatting!

Sunday, May 24, 2020

Online Tips and Tricks by Gloria

Hello, Lovely Tatters!

I've been thinking I'd like to be more pro-active in posting things that aren't so much about MY day-to-day life but more helpful to those of us that maybe don't have access to, or don't know about, resources and information that are intended to help.

There are lots of videos and tutorials out there, and I don't have the time or the space to list all of them, not even in subsequent blogs.  I'm going to post them as I find ones that I find or have found to be particularly helpful.  For a new tatter, this can mean the difference between learning a new technique and using it with confidence or throwing your hands up in frustration and using words that are not knotty, but definitely naughty!

The first resource to which I'd like to introduce you is from an established tatter named Gloria Nelson.  You may remember her as one of the first "interviewees" from a few months back.  She's a self-taught needle tatter and has made it her mission in this art to ensure that artists new to this tool have as much support and access to resources and information as possible.  While using a needle might not be the first tool you  might think of when thinking of tatting, it's definitely on the rise in popularity in the tatting community and many shuttle-tatting folks who SWORE they would never learn to use it are now realizing that to be a fully "rounded" instructor, they need to at least be passing familiar with both tools.  It's definitely worth learning.  This is the link to her Sparkling Light Creation Studio - Tatting by Gloria Nelson Facebook page, where she frequently posts tidbits that prove useful:


A complete list of what she has researched and prepared is located here (and she's always adding more):

She is also an administrator in the Facebook Group Needle Tatting: for Beginners.  It's a closed group and you do need to acknowledge you know what tatted lace is before you are granted entry to the group, but this kind of "gate" is required.  You'd be amazed how many folks think "needle tatting" is some kind of tattooing ink page.  Hmm...nope, sorry, wrong kind of tatting.

So, I spoke with Gloria and asked her how she would prefer to have her information presented.  I asked if I could post references to individual articles or posts.  She asked that I post a link to her page in general, and to her Tips and Tricks list.  Her logic, with which I have to agree, is very sound. Her words were:

"If I update or modify them, then people can easily see the new version on my Page."

If you're looking for advice, especially for needle tatting, Gloria is amenable to answering questions and will answer you confidently and knowledgeably. She is a dedicated individual that knows her stuff and is very happy to share.

Please don't look at this as a "Needle versus Shuttle" discussion. As I have stated before and will continue to state, your choice of tatting tool is your own for whatever reason you choose to use it. I firmly believe there should be no right or wrong tool choice. Sorry, correction: The only wrong tool is one that is not right for you. My reasons for showcasing Gloria's work here is because I happen to know this lady personally. She is dedicated to the art of tatting, she is very well-educated in what thread will work for what project, she is an award-winning designer and artist, and she is very good at explaining what she wants you to know. She also agrees strongly that the only wrong tatting tool is the one that you are having difficulty using. She might prefer a needle, but that's because it's comfortable for her. She and I have lots of very serious discussions about the uses and benefits of both tools, but the discussions always involve lots of laughter, teasing, and all-round good feelings and that is exactly what tatting is supposed to do; make you feel good!

Give her a look-see! You won't be sorry!

Happy Tatting!

Saturday, May 16, 2020

And Now We're Both Laid Off

Hello, Lovely Tatters!

Yes, again, it has been a while since posting.  It has been a difficult couple of months here as both my husband and I have been laid off our jobs due to the pandemic situation.  He got his notice three weeks before I did, but my layoff came on a day off, and they called me on the phone by getting me out of bed.  

I've been trying to stay busy with tatting, and it has worked somewhat since I have worked up Jon Yusoff's "Threads that Bind" tatalong.  If you've not tried it, here's a link:


It is also called the "14-Day Challenge", so you might see both names floating around.  The link I posted is all 14 days together.

My daughter has requested one of these made in dark garnet red with a touch of pink and mounted in a frame for her wall.  She has decided she wants artwork done by friends to put on her walls.  She asked if I would either paint or tat something for her, so I opted for this.  It's actually easy, just be sure to pay attention to where your joins are.

I've been keeping busy with tatting, making masks for friends and family, and now I've agreed to make masks for my husband's job so they can open.  Well, at least ONE of us knows when we'll be back to work!  My job hasn't even had the courtesy to sneeze in my general direction, so I haven't got a clue.

I've started a vegetable garden, and it's in containers, so let's see how that goes, LOL.  I've even got my husband to build me a "potato condo".  Look it up, it's really cool!  I've not got the greenest of thumbs, so wish me luck, please!

I think the hardest part of all this "isolation and distancing" is the uncertainty.  I don't handle uncertainty and unknown factors well at all.  Cancellation and rescheduling of everything I usually do and count on to add routine that I depend on to help with stability in my life has really been difficult.

If you're having issues with keeping busy, try learning to do a small thing you never thought you'd have time to do.  I'm learning to garden, I'm trying to connect with people both online and at a distance in my community, I've dedicated myself to making things for other people so I'm obligated to at least speak to someone face-to-face so I can deliver them (at a distance, of course). I've decided I want to learn a tatting technique, but I need to find someone to SHOW me because I'm not really good with photos because I need to be able to see what is being done as it's done.  That has been an issue.

Folks, if you're having issues feeling isolated, there are lots of folks in the groups that feel the same way.  Contact one of them and have an old-fashioned knotty conversation.  You'd be surprised at how much good it does for you!

I don't want to get "preachy" here, but if you're finding things aren't as easy as you usually find them and need more than just a few giggles with online friends, there are vast numbers of places you can get advice.  We're all in the same boat, so you're not really alone but some folks need a bit more to get them through troubled times and that is okay!  We all handle things differently, and that's what makes us unique.  Heck, you can even contact me, I've got broad shoulders!

Happy Tatting!