Fiber artist Tatiana Zalozh, of Sedalia, has found that crocheting wool scarves, baby booties, hats, adult slippers and making felted purses, is cathartic. It has brought her peace.
Working with wool was a comfort to her when she suffered a breakup in a relationship six years ago and also two years ago when her niece Angelika Franchuk, 19, was killed in a car accident.
“You have to let go, to move on … this was my comfort zone,” she said Wednesday. “I just buried myself in it. This helped me a lot when I lost Angie too. It’s a good hobby.”
She began making items for her children, then her nieces and nephews and eventually her work morphed into “Tatiana’s Wool Works.”
“No one really taught me, I just started playing with it,” she added. “For some reason I wanted to do it. I sat one day and thought ‘what if I put sheepskin on the bottom?’ I remember my grandma used to make sheepskin shoes like this.”
She said she couldn’t remember the exact pattern her grandmother, Aleksandra “Shura” Georgieva, used while living in Ukraine, but she remembered the wool on top and sheepskin on the bottom.
She’d rather crochet than knit and finds it more creative.
“I do knitting too, but for some reason with the hook you can do so much more,” she said.
Zalozh uses pure wool, often working with alpaca, sheep and mohair. To line her slippers, Zalozh found she could purchase sheepskin from a woman online who makes seat covers.
“She has little pieces that she just throws away,” Zalozh said. “So, I contacted her one day.”
She was able to buy small pieces, but also pieces large enough to create adult slippers.
Of all the wool she works with, Alpaca is her favorite.
“It’s so soft, and I love alpacas,” she added. “They are such a good animal. I want some, but who knows, maybe when I get some land someday.”
Due to her love for alpaca wool, she attends many alpaca shows including events in the Kansas City area.
“They show the alpacas and they’re really pretty,” she said. “Kansas City usually has (shows) and when you go there you meet so many farmers. They will invite you to the farm and show you around. They usually have shops and it’s really unique. I love it.”
When going to alpaca shows she usually takes her children Augustin, 10, and Ellianna, 6. She added that at the shows those attending always have their own alpaca products for sale.
Whether working with alpaca or other wool, she uses a leather puncher and a variety of crochet hooks including clover hooks that warm to the touch of her hand to make her creations.
“These are really cool because it gets warm in your hand and it slides real easy,” she said of the clover hooks. “It’s a special metal made in Japan.”
Most of her work isn’t time consuming; small booties only take at most two hours to crochet, larger slippers may take up to two to three hours. She doesn’t necessarily have a favorite color but does love bright colors.
“You know purple was never my favorite color,” she said. “But when I had my daughter she wore nothing but purple.”
Her daughter enjoys watching her mother crocheting and she has already experimented by making a small scarf for herself.
“It’s still in progress,” Zalozh said smiling.
Zalozh hopes to begin adding more felted wool items to her inventory. She has recently purchased a felted wool press to help with the project.
“It looks hard, but it’s really easy to make,” she said of her purses. “Felted wool is made with soap and water.”
If done by hand, once the soap and water is added, the wool is rubbed together to create the felted piece. The machine makes the process much easier and faster.
“I bought a machine to felt the wool,” she added. “You get the wool brushed out and you lay it out, and then you add warm water and soap. You put bubble wrap on top, and then when you close the machine it rubs it together and makes it felted.”
To make a design on the felted wool she takes strings of wool and inserts it with a needle.
“You poke it through and it just stays there,” she said. “It’s very easy and very addictive too.”
She would love to one day give classes on felted wool or crochet.
“One of the churches asked me if I could teach little girls about it,” she added. “It would be good for kids now days to learn things like this, because all they do is play on computers.”
In the future she plans to redesign her slippers by bringing the sheepskin up over the top to cover the toe area and she hopes to one day make large felted wool rugs.
Zalozh is also open to giving presentations on her wool creations. For more information on Tatiana’s Wool Works, contact her at [email protected]
Faith Bemiss can be reached at 530-0289 or @flbemiss.