Monday, 14 January 2013

Katrina Evans (artist)

Crocheted Turtles
Several years ago, I opened an Etsy account, sold a bit, bought a bit, then had a couple of bad buying experiences and lost interest in the website. I was recently encouraged to reactivate my account, particularly through seeing links to work on there by Imogen Skelley and Corina Stupu Thomas. There's now far more British work on Etsy and I have discovered several very local people including today's interviewee, counsellor and crocheter Katrina Evans. Her whimsical creations caught my eye as I think some, especially these Turtles and the little Mouse pictured at the end of the interview, might be cute gifts for Valentine's Day!

tE: Can you remember the very first item you crocheted?
KE: Yes I can actually! I have a memory of my grandmother (Ethel) teaching me to crochet at the age of about 7 as I was sitting on her knee, and also I remember my mother (Phyl) teaching me to knit. My first project was a pair of blue bootees which I made at about that same age when my cousin James was born.

tE: What inspired you to begin crocheting again?
KE: Following this, I have over the years had some attempts at crocheted and knitted cardigans and blankets, usually never finished, and then a year or so ago by chance I saw a book advertised called ‘How to make Knitted Fairies’ and on a whim I requested it for Christmas 2011. I then realised that there were lots of free toy patterns on the internet and as I have always found crocheting easier and faster than knitting, I had a go at a tiny elephant and so my current passion was born! I am now thoroughly addicted and cannot stop. I thought maybe I could sell some of my toys and this is how Katy Jane Creations has developed – my name is Katrina Jane and my mother has always called me Katy Jane as a nickname.

Finished Angel from Katrina's pattern
tE: What are your favourite designs to make?
KE: I most enjoy making toys, especially ones with lots of character, and now find myself moving more into making miniatures. I have so many ideas I can’t keep up, and would like to try needle felting soon too. As I have learned more and more, I have started to think that I could write my own patterns and so this week my first pattern was published for sale online.

tE: Tell us about your new shop?
KE: My partner and I have recently opened Malaika at 95 Cavendish Place, prompted by our two other business ventures involving Wedding and Event planning, and Counselling. I was granted a New Enterprise Allowance through the government’s scheme via the Job Centre because I was made redundant from my job of 20 years and so had to sign on for 6 months. I used my redundancy money to qualify as a Counsellor through the Wealden Institute of Psychology in Crowborough. At the same time, my partner Rachel was awarded the same NEA for starting up the wedding and events business and she has an international qualification now in wedding design. The scheme offers a volunteer mentor in order to help write a business plan and mine was Stephen Lloyd MP, who has been very supportive and came to open our new shop just before Christmas. The Mayor also came to open it on that same day and now we are excited to have been given the opportunity to make 70 table centrepieces for the Mayor’s Ball this year.

Mouse in Walnut Shell Bed
tE: And how do you see the future?
KE: We plan now that the shop will provide three aspects – Wedding and Event planning / Counselling / Craft Supplies and Classes. It's a big shop with plenty of space. We have a therapy room at the back of the shop with a separate entrance. I use it for counselling clients and we would also like to rent it to other therapists. We would like to be able to offer craft making classes for adults and children. I could teach others to crochet, and Rachel also works as a primary school teacher. With her experience, she wants to offer classes for younger ones in various media such as fimo clay modelling. We are open to suggestions from anyone who would like to rent the space in order to offer their own classes too. We had tables at some craft fairs in local schools before Christmas, and as a result we have just booked our first children’s craft-making birthday party (the theme is Princesses and Pirates). These parties can be held in our premises for a small group of children or in a hall for a larger number. We have so many ideas!

See Katrina's work online at her Etsy shop - Katy Jane Creations - or in person at Malaika, 95 Cavendish Place, Eastbourne. Malaika is open Wed-Sat 10:00-16:00.