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?
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
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
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
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: email@example.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).