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Thursday, August 6, 2020

"Our Canada" Magazine

Hello, Lovely Tatters!  What a time I'm having in my garden!  I have tomatoes going gangbusters, a strawberry "patch" that just keeps on giving, raspberries of my own for the first time in my life, and a potato condo that looks like it's going to be a really wonderful idea!  My one lonely corn stalk, however, may cause me and Beloved to draw pistols over the one ear of corn it is producing.  My philosophy is that this is a "learning garden" and learning I am!  My broccoli and cauliflower are not usable at all, and my carrots are so small we will likely just make a meal out of the whole crop.  I have learned a great deal, though.  Container gardening gives me far fewer problems than gardening in the ground directly, that's for sure!

I wonder if any of you have ever heard of a magazine called "Our Canada"?  It's published about 6 times a year, and once in a while they publish stories that catch my eye.

In the October/November 2017, there was an article printed in their "Crafty Canadians" column that was titled "And Sew On".

Now, ordinarily I wouldn't give it another look, but there was a word that caught my eye just under the title:

...tatting...

I used to live in Nova Scotia, where this article is penned.  I didn't think there were other tatters there, although I have learned that Karen Negus (with whom I have done an interview) lives not too far from where I was, and now I find the author of this article lives not too far from there, too.

Here is the article:



This article is written by Barbara Watson and outlines how very special a bond can develop over a craft of any kind.  I have to admit to thinking "why didn't I know about any of these talented Bluenosers (that's what folks from Nova Scotia call themselves) when I was living down there 20 years ago and feeling like I was the only one that tatted?  

Well, it only goes to show that talented people don't like to blow their own horns.  At least, not tatters.  I have never met a more humble group of people than tatters, and more-so among Canadian tatters.  We love our chosen art, we love talking about it, we will help you until the cows come home, but as for bragging about our own skills?  Ah, no, we just don't do that.  Most Canadian tatters I know prefer to work in the shadows and quietly help those that find us with questions.

This is why I'm doing interviews with Canadian tatters, and snooping out articles and Canadian entries into the blogosphere.  I look for Canadian tatters online, something I couldn't do when I started because going "online" when I was learning just wasn't possible.  The internet didn't exist!  We muddled along in silence, not knowing where to look for information but overjoyed when we found a book in a library or found someone that knew what we were doing!

Canadians, as a whole, are exceptional craftspeople, and the world needs to know we're here and we're not going anywhere!

Happy tatting!

Monday, July 27, 2020

An Interview with Jeff Hamilton

Hello, Lovely Tatters!!!

Well, here we are in a week where the guy on the radio keeps warning of rain and thunderstorms and the app on my phone says it's going to be dry and warm, or vice versa.  Either way, I find myself daily ill-prepared for the weather that we get.  I would love more rain because it means less heat, (heat drives me downstairs)and allows things to cool off while giving my garden a fighting chance.  You should see my tomatoes!

I got a WONDERFUL note today from a gentleman named Jeff Hamilton, who agreed to answer my interview questions!!  There are a couple of things that I wanted to know about Jeff beyond the fact that he's a "knotty" guy.  One thing that I find interesting is that he lives in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, which is where my daughter lives!  I hope one day to be able to sit down and have a coffee with Jeff and spend time just getting to know him better.  He seems a lovely fellow (and tatters have great stories!)

However, yes, I was hoping to get a perspective on how he might feel being a big burly guy engaging in a delicate artform like tatting when it's perceived as a "ladies' " kind of craft.  I was so pleased to see he has had really positive receptions.  I know a lot of men that would never try something remotely like this.  Personally, I found it very refreshing!  I get so tired of "women's work" analogies because most men I know that do any kind of fibre art are doggoned good at it!

Jeff has a very nicely laid-out blog at Bridge City Tatting (link is in the list to your right), and there are a couple of patterns there that I find quite intriguing.  He's not just a tatter, either, but also enjoys knitting and crocheting, which are also featured on his blog.

I know you didn't tune in here to hear me yack.  As before, answers to the questions I asked are in red italics, and are copied word-for-word. Now, here we are with "An Interview with Jeff Hamilton":

1. How long have you been tatting? 

I’ve been tatting for about 21 years. I first learned when I was around 16 years old. 

2  What first drew you to learn? 

found a tatting shuttle amongst my mom’s stuff that belonged to a relative who tatted. I was curious about what it was for. I later found a tatting booklet with my mom’s crochet magazines. Recognizing what the shuttle was for I decided I wanted to learn how to tat.

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

I first attempted to learn from a tatting booklet I found. I later went on the internet and found additional information, including a website with very basic videos/animated gifs (by today’s standards), that allowed me to see and understand the movements. I should point out that the internet had only been around for a few years at this point. 

4. Needle, shuttle, both? Why? 

I can do both, but mainly shuttle tat. I learned shuttle tatting first, then gave needle tatting a try. I think I prefer shuttle tatting just because I learned it first. Both types have their advantages and disadvantages.

5. What do you get from this artform?    

Like most of the needlework I do, I mainly tat as a form of relaxation. It helps with stress relief as well and I get a pretty and/or useful object when I’m finished.

6. Are any other family members tatters? 

Unfortunately no. I’m the only living person in my family who tats. There has been a few in the past that tats, but I don’t know anything about them. I only have a couple shuttles from one of them.

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

I have a blog, http://bridgecitytatting.blogspot.com, that I've been documenting my tatting adventures.  unfortunately, I haven't updated it in a while.  I am also on Instagram @jeffhamilton2, which I set up to share my needlework.  Alas, it doesn't get updated as much as it should, either.  I should probably get on that!

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

I’ve released a few tatting patterns over the years. I still have a couple that are yet to be released.

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

As a single guy, I don’t have to worry about it. I think for a most part, my family supports my tatting and other needlecrafts. My mom especially loved my work as she was unable to craft later in her life. I hope to one day have a partner who also does some form of needlecraft, so we can work on our projects together.

10.What does tatting do for you? 

It’s relaxing and I get a piece of lace when I’m done. 

11.Many people still have the old-fashioned idea that any kind of needlework or threadwork is “women’s work” and are shocked or embarrassed to see a gentleman engaging in anything like that. Have you had any comments made about your tatting? 

I’ve done some form of needlework since I was a kid. I used to do a lot of crocheting in public as a kid when my mom had a table at the local Farmer’s Market. Frequently had older ladies make lots of positive comments about it. They absolutely loved seeing a young boy doing some form of needlework.

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

Sadly no. Although I have considered it many times. I was one of many tatters that were interviewed for an article in Maclean’s magazine in 2012. 

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

I hope to keep the art form alive. Tatting is still not as widely practiced as knitting and crochet are. I do want to publish more patterns and give back to the tatting community.

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

As I know many tatters are aware, tatting supplies aren’t as readily available as other crafting supplies. Finishing the lace, hiding ends, etc, are not as easily done and tend to require planning to look good. Definitely wish it could be done as easily as crochet or knitting.

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

Not yet. Haven’t had anyone express interest, sadly. 

16.Where do see this artform in general in, say, 20 years? 

I honestly don’t see tatting becoming as popular as knitting during this time, but I do expect that it will still be alive and well. With tatting gaining popularity in many other countries, and many pattern books coming out of countries like Japan and South Korea, they’ll be plenty of new patterns for many years to come. The internet will continue to be a very important means for tatters to continue to share their work, patterns, new techniques, and of course access to supplies. 

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

For anyone who doesn’t tat, you should totally give it a shot! It’s cheap and portable and you can make just about anything. Tatting may not be a mainstream craft, but it’s not lost!

I can't thank Jeff enough for his responses here.  I'm so very glad to be able to present these interviews with Canadian tatting artists from so many areas of the country and from such diverse backgrounds.  That's what I love about tatting!  We can all speak the same language and backgrounds be darned!

Happy tatting!

Friday, July 17, 2020

A Salute to "Lap Warmers"

Hello, Lovely Tatters!
It's a stinkin' hot day outside, I have work to do inside and I'm just not inspired to do it.  I'll get to it, but I have to get my work hat on and I just don't think it will fit without another cup of coffee, so here I am.

I make no secret about having pets, but I've had a great many inquiries about what I mean about a "geriatric cat".  Seems a lot of my knotty friends have a furry lap warmer and are always looking to see what someone else's looks like.  

Well, here is the story of Mrs. Katz.  This is her, in her favourite relaxation pose:


In case you can't see it, she has one wee white toe and her underside has white markings that look remarkably like a little teeny weeny bikini.

Mrs. Katz will be 13 years old next month, but you'd never know it.  She still hunts, fights with the neighbour's yearling cat (they cannot tolerate each other), and she is rarely home during the day in the summer.  She even has a boyfriend, although I don't know why as Mrs. Katz's "fun in the sun" days were taken care of by the vet shortly after she arrived at our house.

I "inherited" her when she was about 4 months old.  She was the tiniest little bit of fluff you ever saw and even at that small age, a complete and fully realized diva.  She demanded food at the most unforgivable hours of the night, loved to lay on my neck when I was sleeping, and followed me like a shadow.  Mind, I wasn't supposed to NOTICE that there was a tiny black puff-ball following me, but she did.

This is her supervising the cleaning of the bathroom:


I wasn't supposed to know she had quietly slinked her way into the bathtub, but you know that feeling when you think someone is watching you? Yeah... 

My most remarkable memory of her is of when she fought off three coyotes from under our step.  Yes, three.  We live in a very rural area, and it's nothing for the coyotes to gang up on housepets and other animals.  

I heard a really awful ruckus outside the door, and when I went to investigate, I saw three coyotes desperately trying to get at something under the step.  Suddenly this little black paw comes out from under that step and I think it did some real damage because that coyote yipped away across the road and into the field.  Another swipe with that paw and the second coyote yipped, but it wasn't until another swipe with that same paw had it shake its head (spraying blood on my step) and it, too, ran into the field behind his friend.  

By this time, I had realized it was my sweet kitty underneath that step, and these beasties were bent on making her their lunch!  I grabbed the broom and beat the third one away, and when I called to her, Mrs. Katz came into the house in a big hurry.

I know I shouldn't, but I still have to giggle at this 8-lb. cat standing stiff-legged and wild-eyed in the middle of my kitchen, tail straight in the air, and every hair in her coat standing straight up on end.  Her eyes were the size of loonies, and she looked like a black cotton ball with eyes glued on it.

I've not had to fight off any critters trying to make a meal of her, but she's still one tough little beastie.  She's my cuddle-buddy at night and purrs so loud I think she's going to burst, but sometimes it's the only way I can get to sleep.  It's an excuse to make sure she's in the house at night.

Anyway, I really should go get my work done.  Do you have any lap-warmers that help you?

Happy Tatting!




Thursday, July 16, 2020

Adding to the Shops List!

Hello again, Lovely Tatters!!  I'm just puttering along with all these wonderful places that are coming to me out of the woodwork!  I'm happy to keep adding to the list.  Even just a little bit of supplies is better than nothing.

May I present to you "Aunt Debbie's Knit & Stitch Shop" located at #6-5016 Vedder Road in Chilliwack, BC.  Because of the current pandemic, their operating hours are reduced, of course, but I think it would be a real treat to go visit the Fraser Valley's largest and oldest yarn shop.  You just know you're going to find something special when they advertise things like that!


Does this not look like the most inviting little space?

Again, Aunt Debbie's might be a place that has predominantly catered to the knit and crochet crowd, but they acknowledge, as do a growing number of vendors and suppliers, that tatting is growing in popularity and people need to be able to access supplies!  

In requesting her permission to add her shop's information to the blog here, the shop's namesake, Debbie Cote, did say that her suppliers were a bit slow lately with re-stocking.  Given the current global situation, that's not terribly hard to understand.  Everything is slowed down to nearly the speed of a rampaging sloth.  It's better than a standstill, but it's still really slow. She also indicated she was going to put more pictures of what they offer for tatting supplies on the website, so be sure to check back there frequently!

Anyway, if you're looking for something specific, I might encourage you to give the shop a call at 604-824-7790 and ask directly for assistance and if they have a specific item in stock.  Their site address is http://www.knit-and-stitch.ca/.  Go have a look!  There are a couple of things in their "Pictures" tab that I would really like to try for myself!  So many projects, so little time...  Story of my life.

Again, if you have any other resources for tatting stores in Canada, please let me know.  I'd love to hear about any place that offers supplies, from thread to tools to beads and beyond.  It all helps.

Until next time,

Happy Tatting!






Wednesday, July 15, 2020

Shopping is Growing!!

Hello, Lovely Tatters!  Here I am again.  I'm actually writing this ahead of posting because I want to be sure I have everything in here that I've been working on the last few days.

I have TWO more shops for you!  

First up is Romni Wools on Queen St. West in Toronto!  These folks are predominantly a store that caters to the knitting and crochet crowd, but they do recognize that tatting is an important and growing art form and are stocking more for knotty folks like us.  I received an email from them and Rachel has kindly provided photos of the items they've not yet had a chance to add to their shopping site.

     

Needles and Shuttles and Thread, oh MY!


Romni Wools has a lovely and easy to navigate website address at http://romniwools.com/ where you can shop from the leisure of your own home.  If you're a "gotta touch it shopper", their brick and mortar shop, located at 658 Queen Street West, Toronto, ON., is open 11-5 Monday through Saturday.  You can email them at info@romniwools.com, or call them at 416-703-0202.  Tell them you heard about them from me!  

Pursuant my recent interview with Karen Negus, she also has an Etsy site where she sells a great many things, including some truly interesting patterns! This is one of the patterns available:



Karen calls this the "Milk Hill Crop Circle" and the pattern is on her Etsy site.  I love this and can see it used many different ways.

Karen is based in Nova Scotia, and if you've been there, you know there are any number of beautiful things there to offer inspiration to designers.  I invite you to visit her site and browse through.  You won't be disappointed!

Have a look at her shoppe here: 
https://www.etsy.com/shop/tattingforspirit/?fbclid=IwAR1Yi0psLxXaY2utP9xTA8nCR34n-1ZKv3huQ-it2d2NOcd7si_s1Ydeegs&section_id=26256825. She does wonderful things by tatting with yarn, believe it or not, and she is very easy to speak with if you have questions or need more information.

I'm hoping to have some other resources for you shortly.  Please support Canadian shops.  I wrote before that they can't stock a lot if they don't have the business. I was told by one proprietress that they are actually penalized if they don't purchase a specific amount!  And that's from a CANADIAN supplier!  Sounds counter-productive on the part of the supplier to me, but we need to ensure that the Canadian stores continue to be available.  As they say, shop local as much as possible!

Happy Tatting!