ACrafty Interview with Pam Harris

Welcome to today’s ACrafty Interview with Pam Harris – multicrafter extrordinare!

Afternoon Tea and Craft on the PatioWhen did you start crafting? PH: I was about 6 years old and I learned to make little Zozobra’s by tying a Kleenex around a cotton ball and sticking on two little eyes. My Mom and I made them as part of a fund raising project for her club during Fiesta de Santa Fe. Most “craft skills” I learned were “useful” – sewing, embroidery, knitting; however, I do recall making little rolled paper beads with my Great Grandmother. I come from a long line of practical women so anything I made or learned to make (even when very young) had to have lasting value. I have pretty much carried that ethic forward throughout my crafty life.

What crafts have you tried and what is your current favorite? PH: You do know I am an incurable dabbler – right?

Knitted/felted snowman.  Pattern from Marie Mayhew Designs.Knitting, crochet, punched tin, polymer clay, beading, wire and beads, quilting, wheat weaving, shaved wood, wet felting, needle felting, weaving, embroidery, temari, soft toys, gourds, English paper piecing, sewing garments and household goods, spinning, decoupage, bread dough sculpture, macrame, paper, hand building and throwing pottery on a wheel….

Current favorite? Besides any craft having to do with Christmas and Winter Holidays you mean? Mostly working with fiber – any and all of the fiber crafts – what I find myself doing most of the time. I like combining techniques – so that several fiber crafts are included in a project

Celebrating St. Lucy Day - St. Lucy, Star Boy, Scandi-gnome and TomteWhat is the biggest project you’ve ever tackled? PH: It is a toss-up between Austrian shades for Diane’s bedroom when she was a girl, re-upholstering a sofa, and a 4 foot by 6 foot embroidery which took forever! I think I have gotten the need for big projects out of the way!!! Now I relish smaller projects and except for knitting and crochet, and I pretty much prefer to use my own designs.

 

First pair of socks!What project are you most proud of? PH: Learning to knit socks!!

Learning to knit socks was a looooong, fiercely fought battle between the part of me who wanted, like everything, to learn to knit socks and the side of me that is intimidated by anything that is not fairly easy to learn the first time. To give you a clue, just casting on required repeated views of “cast on videos!” Can you imagine what I went through learning short rows or picking up gussets? Many “near-tear moments” I’ll admit! (And a bonus – while knitting the first sock, I became an expert at unraveling my work!!!)

I had no one i could turn to for help so I had to rely on the internet. It is a hugely valuable resource for learning to knit or crochet or sew or….. Coming from a time when such a resource did not exist, I totally appreciate how much the easy access to knowledge adds to the quality of and opportunities to learn in our lives.

So, while the socks I have knitted provide welcome and beautiful footwear, they are much more – a constant reminder of the role persistence and unwillingness to give up plays in the process of learning a new skill.

Using Mod Podge to mount fall leaves to small canvasesWhat is the silliest question you’ve received regarding your work? PH: I can’t actually think of a single silly question. I have been frustrated at times by crafters asking me why their project didn’t turn out only to subsequently find out that they did not follow instructions.

 

Filling up mini muffin cups with tiny hexiesWhat is the most common question you receive regarding your work? PH: How do I manage to do as much as I do!!! The answer is that I tend to be very organized and carefully plan my time so that I can accomplish the things I want to accomplish.

 

Fall Leaves, Mod Podge and Mason Jar = Beautiful CandleWhat is your most popular project? PH: Pretty much a three way split between coloring Easter Eggs with Kool-aid, using Mod Podge and food coloring to tint jars to use as lanterns or vases, and using Mod Podge to apply dried fall leaves to jars. While there are several others that drive large amounts of traffic to my blog, these three are by far responsible for the most traffic.

Dutch Canal Houses embroidery to celebrate St. Nicholas Day/SinterclasDo you sketch or plan most of your work before you begin, or do you generally work without a pattern? PH: I use a pattern when and where it is needed – like a quilt or embroidery, knitted piece or a soft toy – however, as often as possible, I like using my own ideas. Some crafts like painting gourds, punching tin, working with shaved wood or beads and wire and while weaving – I tend not to pre-plan but let my muse have her way with me!!

Saori freestyle weaving, Crochet Tooterphant and Winter Solstice Quilt BlockHas a craft or craft project ever challenged you in an unexpected way? PH: I tend to try new things I know nothing about so I often get into trouble – in lots of unexpected ways!!! But I always find a way to make it happen – learn what I need to learn.

 

 

Punched Tin Butterflies massing on my Seasonal TreeHow has crafting affected your character? PH: For me crafting – making – is as necessary as breathing. It is not something I have acquired – something added. It is who I am. It is a natural expression of my predisposition to create. It is how I function on a daily basis. And so, engaging in craft activity brings me joy, fulfillment, satisfaction.

Taking my craft to a blog has brought me in touch with a unique and inspirational group of new friends from all corners of the earth – women (and men) who are authentic, creative, and each brilliant in her/his own way. I am grateful for these connections beyond words. AND I am thrilled that the blog gives me the opportunity to support and share their talents.

Danish Woven Paper Heart BasketsCan you share a story about how your crafting has affected others? PH: Nothing in particular comes to mind. But my heart is made happy hearing from crafters who leave me comments or who write me e-mails and share how much a tutorial I have written has helped them understand the process behind a particular craft.

 

 

 

 

Guess i am going to learn lace knitting!What crafty goodness do you have coming up in the future? Why is it appealing to you? PH: Weaving bags for Diane (daughter – Craftypod) and myself using all hand spun yarns; designing and creating a primstav (more info) using embroidery; learn simple carving so I can carve my own Christmas elves and Santas; knit a Finnish lace poncho from hand spun yarn; and continue testing cookie recipes for the “Winter Holiday Cookies from Around the World” project!
Sweet Pepperkaker addition to winter holiday baking!

 

Many, many thanks to Pam for taking the time from her busy schedule to participate in this interview series! Pam just celebrated her Five Year Blogging Anniversary (a huge accomplishment), and I know she’s got a lot of winter holiday crafty goodness coming up on her blog over the next six weeks. Just look at those cookies above and how elegantly they’re displayed – can you even imagine how beautiful her whole house must look for the holidays? It’s mindboggling!

You can follow Pam’s adventures on her blog Gingerbread Snowflakes, her Flickr photostream (and Flickr sets with picture guides to all her tutorials), and on Instagram (@gingerbreadsnowflakes).

Would you like to be a part of the ACrafty interview series? Just contact me! You might also be interested in reading some more ACrafty Interviews with (Pam’s daughter) multi-crafter Diane from CraftyPodneedlepointer Haruhi Okubo of Cresus-Parpitatter and chainmailler Jeff Hamiltonpotter Nancy Germondbasketweaver Tina Puckettcross stitcher Meredith Cait, the two part interview with textile artist Arlee Barr, and Halloween costume maker Justin Newton.

ACrafty Interview with Jeff Hamilton

Welcome to today’s ACrafty Interview with Jeff Hamilton, tatter and chainmailler.

When did you start crafting? JH: Awesome! The first question is an easy one. I first started crafting over 20 years ago when I was about seven or eight. I was bored one summer and my mom taught me how to do needlepoint using plastic canvas. She taught me crochet after I had made a few projects with the canvas. From then on, I just had an interest in crafting. My interest in tatting started about 18 years ago when I found a tatting shuttle in a box of crochet patterns. I didn’t know was it was for until I later found a small booklet of tatting patterns in the same box. I just had to learn how to tat.
Bookmark Exchange

Stainless Steel Byzantine Yin Yang Chainmaille PendantWhat crafts have you tried and what is your current favorite? JH: Hmm. I’ve tried so many, I hope you’re not looking for an exhaustive list! I’ve done knitting, crochet, tatting, Teneriffe lace, needlepoint using plastic canvas, cross stitch, Temari (Japanese thread balls), chainmaille, polymer clay, painting, felting (wet and needle), and spinning using a spindle. I’m sure there are others; I do like to try new crafts. As to my current favourite, I’m going to have to go with tatting, with crochet and chainmaille close behind.

Coral Reef DragonWhat is the silliest question you’ve ever received about your craft? JH: Well, I have to admit, I haven’t been asked any silly questions yet. However, a lot of people confuse tatting with tattoos and that has brought some interesting questions and comments to other tatters.

 

 

 

acrafty interview - jeff hamilton tatted windmills doily

What craft project are you most proud of? JH: I’m proud of every project I manage to finish. A couple projects stand out though. A large doily made using a tatted motif called Windmills, is the largest item I made to date. I am still working on it so it will end up larger than it’s current 15 inch diameter. Another project is a male Betta fish. This is the first design I created myself.

acrafty interview - jeff hamilton tatted betta fish

Tri Metal Serrated Byzantine Chainmaille EarringsDo you ever craft in public? If so, what kind of reactions do you receive from others? JH: I did when I was much younger. I used to go to the local Farmer’s Market with my mom where I would crochet while my mom was busy vending. I’d have a lot of people commenting on how nice it was to see a young boy crocheting. In particular, the older ladies thought it was great.

 

Has a craft or craft project ever challenged you in an unexpected way? JH: I think every craft project can be challenging in many ways. I, like a lot of tatters, make many of our items from other people’s patterns online and from books. Lately, many foreign language books have become readily available to us. The patterns themselves are often just diagrammed, but sometimes that’s just not enough. I know I’ve tried a pattern from one of these books and sometimes, something doesn’t work. I’m sure that the key to the pattern is in the text, if only I could read it.
Chinese Dragon

acrafty interview - jeff hamilton tatted canadian flagHow has crafting affected your character? JH: I definitely think crafting has affected my character. I know it has made me much more patient. I’ve always had a imaginative/creative side and have been able to express it when I design my own tatting patterns. Any crafting I do has a calming effect on me, which is nice if I have a tough day at work and need to relax.

Spinning Wheel Glass MatCan you share a story about how your crafting has affected others? JH: I know that my Grandmother was particularly fond of my tatting. She was often very interested in what I was working on. And she did often tell her friends about me and my crafting. I know my Mom greatly enjoys my crafting. She is particularly proud of the crafts that I learned on my own, ones that she never learned herself.

 

Beaded Byzantine Chainmaille BraceletWhat is the one question you’ve never been asked about your craft that you’ve always wanted to answer? JH: Since I haven’t had anyone ask, I kinda want to have to explain that tatting has nothing to do with tattoos. I’d like to be able to explain to this person what tatting actually is, and perhaps even offer to teach them.

 

Gecko for ShirtWhat crafty goodness do you have coming up in the future? Why is it appealing to you? JH: I’ve got many ideas right now. Being a male tatter, I have always felt a need to create guy friendly tatting patterns. I started a tatted tie a few years ago, and I do hope to finish it. My most recent project is creating a tatted tattoo arm band. I figured instead of trying to separate ourselves from tattoos, I could replicate the look of a tattoo without the pain and permanence.

Many thanks to Jeff for giving this interview! After I discovered MrXStitch, I’m always happy to find the work of other men who work in thread, textile, and needle crafts (check out my ACrafty Interview with cross stitcher WhateverJames).

You can follow Jeff’s adventures on his blogFlickr, and Etsy.

Would you like to be a part of the ACrafty interview series? Just contact me! You might also be interested in reading some more ACrafty Interviews with multi-crafter Diane from CraftyPodembroiderer Sasha of What. No Mints?jeweler Ron Buhlerembroiderer Ellen of Schindermania!, the multi-talented David Tedin, and needlepointer Haruhi Okubo of Cresus-Parpi.