Celebrating Kentucky Crafters – From Sewing to Lacework: Tamara Yohannes’ Fiber Journey
For Tamara Yohannes, it’s hard to remember when her life-long fascination with fiber arts began. She started sewing by hand at her grandmother’s knee, beginning with fabric scraps, a needle and thread when she was only four or five-years-old. Her grandmother recognized her serious interest in sewing, teaching young Tamara how to make even stitches and turn an edge.
When she was in high school she began using the same leftover fabric scraps to make doll clothes for her sister and young girls in their neighborhood. Eventually, that morphed into a business. Neighborhood children would bring their weekly allowance to buy their doll’s next outfit. Tamara would let them choose the pattern and fabric. She used the money from her small business to fund her goal of becoming an exchange student in Japan. There she continued to sew, learning to make a Japanese kimono by hand.
After majoring in Home Economics Education in college, she received a Fulbright Fellowship to teach English for a semester at Presov University in Slovakia. There she found a bobbin-lace teacher who taught her the fundamentals of the beautiful craft. She’d done a little bit of lace in her crocheting and knitting in high school. After returning from Slovakia, she joined the Embroiders’ Guild of America where she found information on Romanian Point Lace, which became her primary focus. Romanian Point Lace is created by connecting lengths of crochet braid with various needle-made stitches.
“I love lace – I started out in high school by crocheting and knitting lace. I love the feel of that air-y fabric falling through my fingers as it grows in size. I love combining colors, trying new patterns, seeing the joy in people’s faces when I give my pieces away,” said Tamara.
Tamara now teaches Romanian Point Lace and has entered pieces in the Kentucky State Fair where she has been fortunate to earn blue, red, pink and white ribbons.
From sewing to crochet to lacework, Tamara has explored a variety of sewing and stitching projects in her lifetime.
“I think it is surprising how once you get the hang of one type of sewing or stitching, that skill transfers really nicely into learning other sewing and stitching techniques. The opportunities are limitless, and if someone were to want to get started, I would recommend picking something you like or you think might be useful and give it a try,” said Tamara.
To learn more about creating lace, Tamara recommends visiting the Embroider’ s Guild of America’s website and watching tutorials on Youtube, where you can find a lot of helpful instructional videos.
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