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Thursday, July 18, 2019

Tat Days and an Interview with Samantha Melnychuk

Hello all you lovely folks!! You'll never guess in a zillion years what I was doing all weekend!  

I went to Tat Days in Anderson, Indiana!  I had an absolute blast!  Lisa Greenlea Adams, who runs Tatting Corner, is a friend of mine and let me tell you, she can throw a party!  I'm tired, I'm still unpacking all the wonderful things I bought at the Tatting Corner and still trying to percolate all the wonderful things I learned, but another awesome experience.  You really need to try to attend at least one of these events.  You do know that the Fringe Element Tatters are having their convention in September, right?  And that it's in CANADA!  It is being held in Cambridge, Ontario and if I hadn't already committed to going to Indiana, I would be going there.  Put it this way, folks, events like these are where we can have "knotty thoughts" and say "knotty words" and do "knotty things" and no one can say we're misbehaving!

So, I have another interview for you lovely folks to read.  This nice lady is Samantha Melnychuk from British Columbia.  She has been tatting for quite some years, and has even published some very impressive books.  Three, to be exact!!  Of which have a copy of each, by the way!  So happy to have those in my library!

Without further delay, I introduce you to:  Samantha Melnychuk!!

1.  How long have you been tatting?

I started when I was around 12 or 13, so around 1995-ish.

2. What first drew you to learn?

I was looking through my grandma's copy of Ms. Beeton's needlework and asked my grandma what tatting was (because the pictures weren't very clear, being old-timey pics) and she said that it was an old craft that nobody did anymore. Because I'm so contrary, I had to prove her wrong by learning how to do it.

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

I taught myself to tat in an afternoon, maybe two. I used many different books: Weldon's Needlecraft, Better Homes & Gardens Needlecraft Book, and others. I would have LOVED if YouTube video tutorials existed back then. I would have gotten the 'flip' so much more quickly.

4. Needle, shuttle, both? Why?

I'm solely a shuttle tatter, if only for the sole reason because that's what I learned, and I find I can get much more uniform stitches with the shuttle. Also, I'm not limited by the size of gthe needle as to how small of thread I work with, because my favourite is 100 or smaller.

5. What do you get from this artform?

I like that I'm one of the people who carried on this craft into the future. I get a tactile experience with working different kinds of fibres. I like designing and figuring out how I can get one element to move to the other and one round to the next without having to cut and tie. I love that it's lace and I made it.

6. Are any other family members tatters?

I'm not 100% sure. My grandma had a yellow Bakelite shuttle that her mom had, but she doesn't ever remember her mom tatting. My great-grandma on that side was British, so it's possible she did when she was younger.

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

I don't really have any online presence anymore, other than a very fledgling Etsy shop for dog accessories called "Amazing Pet Stuff by G & T" that is currently offline while we finish unpacking, painting, and decorating.

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

I've self-published three tatting books: "A Veritable Tatterd Blizzard", "The Psychedelic Shuttle", and "Teeny Tatted Snowflakes". I also have a couple of individual patterns, one of which I know is floating around Pinterest.

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

My husband is amazingly supportive of all the crafty hobbies I have, even when they did end up accidentally injuring him (hook on the end of a shuttle in the butt HURTS! 😉) He enjoys driving hours to take me to specific craft stores in the 'States or Alberta or even across BC. He puts up with me yelling at him for interrupting my counting on weird patterns, and even the dogs understand what just another round/repeat means.

10. What does tatting do for you?

I don't do a whole lot of tatting anymore due to inflammatory arthritis, but it is so relaxing and allows me to just focus on what I'm doing.

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

I've entered some of my doilies in the Creston, BC Fall Fair and they've all won Best of Show. All of my books were also published before I turned 19, as well.

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

I'd like to publish another book or two in the future, maybe design a doily that is non-traditional. I'm only really able to tat in high summer, so it'll probably take a while to accomplish.

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

I don't like how joint sensitive tatting can be, even after stretching your fingers and wrists, warming them up.

I also don't like how fragile antique thread is, LOL. It's so pretty yet it doesn't hold up well with tatting.

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

I have taught a couple of people to tat over the years. Nobody in my family is particularly interested in learning to tat, but I have a baby niece incubating in my sister who may want to learn in the future.

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

I would love to see tatting have the resurgence that knitting and crocheting have been enjoying. I would like to see it become a more mainstream craft with younger people picking it pu the same way they are with knitting and crochet. I think it would be so cool if tatting were incorporated more in different crafts the same way crappy store-bought lace is, but in place of the crappy lace.

I hope you'll consider looking up Samantha's books and purchasing at least one.  I have all three and love them.  They're easy to understand, quick to do, and you can decorate a whole tree with the little snowflakes in very short order.  

This is another Canadian tatter that has made a mark on the art in a country where many, including myself, thought we were alone for a very long time.  I'm so glad to be writing a blog where I can showcase tatters who work with a needle or a shuttle, and places where we can source supplies to support our local shops, and promote each other.  

What's projects are in process in your house?

Happy tatting, everyone!

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