Serendipity is the act of finding something valuable or delightful when you are not looking for it
That is exactly what it felt like when I met Karen for the first time. It was at the Yarn Indaba last year and Karen was standing at the foot of the monument stairs admiring the beautiful crochet work. I went up to her and complimented her on the gorgeous crochet skirt she was wearing. Graceful, elegant and striking it definitely was. I immediately asked a friend who this beautiful woman was and she told me it was Karen. Since then I’ve discovered many of the beautiful gems that Karen makes and how they are showcased in a number of magazines. In addition, Karen is an author of a number of crochet books. Read all about this fascinating artists in our interview below.
What inspires you?
Different art forms are like the different cells in my body. What inspires me may lead to different creations – not only crochet.
Nature and its organic shapes, lines, forms and colours, the sea, folk art, rich textures and prints, doodling and children’s book illustrations, dreams and imaginary friends
When did you start crafting and who taught you?
I’ve been crafting since 2 years old. I decorated the hallway in our home with glorious motifs, waves and non-identifiable living things. It became more serious with Dad giving me more structured lessons in composition, line, form and colour. My mother is the angel of all sewing and handcrafted creations, and she subconsciously developed the mental films of sewing and crafting in my young mind. At first I hated all the patterns, fabric, pins and clients wanting dresses in horrendous colours and styles, but later on I realised the value of the little sewing lessons. These lessons would later make it possible for me to realise my creative ideas.
Tell me about your work?
I have been a book editor for 10 years, and it was the publishing industry that gave me the opportunity to share my passion for crafts through books. Although creative freedom is limited when working for a company or magazine, especially when you love the weird and wonderful, it was still better than having to do it only when you come home from work or over weekends.
My job is to share – the passion, enjoyment and fulfilment of creation.
I have started my own business called HankiDori, but have kept it dormant, as my freelance publishing job is taking up all of my time.
I do have other new ventures for the future, but they are still to be refined.
How did it all begin?
It started off by a compilation of crochet patterns in 2009 as part of LAPA’s publication list, called Hekel vir die lekker, which is now in its 6th print run. At the time, magazines and the public laughed at me. How can you publish something as old-fashioned as crochet? The rest is history. It slowly developed into one of the most popular crafts today. In between I have also published books on needlework, cross stitch, green crafts, jewellery and mosaic.
Although all the books have been great successes, I deeply hunger for a book that really gives extraordinary artistic and creative flair to ordinary crafts. I want to do something different.
What do you think will be the next big thing in the world of craft (especially your area of expertise?)
Fusion of fibres and fabrics and more towards other traditional craft forms like needlework, embroidery, smock and sewing techniques. These also combined with folk art. Watch this space.
Who on the international craft scene do you admire most and why?
Can I list a few? They all have an angle that simply leaves me gobsmacked:
Gabriele Meyer’s hyperbolic crochet
Joana Vasconcelos’s yarn bombing
And Nadia Dafri’s jewellery (my greatest weakness)
Where can our readers find you on social media?
I do not have a blog – it is on my list for this year, but at this stage my workload and imagination are asking too much time from me.
What is your favourite blog and magazine and why?
I am a serial blog hopper. I do not stick to one blog as with my crafts, and I can’t remember any. The list will be endless and I really can’t find anyone that will satisfy – in the long run. Better to have a peek now and then. No specific magazines, except for ALL Japanese craft magazines – I’m a total addict of them. Because if you ever have a thought or an idea, they’ve already have mastered it.
What is your favourite craft?
Crochet, photography, sewing, painting, drawing, stained glass, mosaic and metalworking.
If you had more time on your hands what would you do?
Make something for myself, and crochet décor art with no functional value. And learn something new.
What magazines do you buy?
Mostly craft and crochet magazines, but also art and home decoration. I am not a serial magazine buyer and will only buy one if I see something that really intrigues me. I’d rather buy books for my library.
Would you buy a pattern or the whole kit online?
Only a pattern, because I want to make it my own. I will want to change texture, yarn, colour, etc.
What is your favourite yarn store / craft store?
The nearest yarn store to my home is Yarn in a barn with lovely local yarn.
Craft stores are Herbert Evans, Archneer and Jimnettes.
Life is full of surprises and serendipity.
One lucky reader will receive the latest book published by Karen: CROCHET KNOW-HOW 2. Just post in the comment section what you thought of our interview with Karen.
It sure was a blessing to have met Karen!
It just made me realise that being open to meeting new people (albeit unexpectedly) is an important part of my happiness.