Handy Hands: A Family Tradition
Handy Hands is a company dedicated to the beautiful art of tatting and related needle arts. As with many others who tat, at Handy Hands, tatting is a family affair. More than two decades ago, at the suggestion of her brother-in-law, Barbara Foster used a typewriter, 35mm camera and a photo tent in her dining room to produce the company’s first tatting book, The Art of Needle Tatting. Barb and her husband Jim’s then-seven-year-old daughter Rebekah who also could tat was featured on the cover. Through many prayers and hours of hard work, the Handy Hands tatting company was born in 1990.
Taking Tatting on the Road
Handy Hands attended its first craft show, the Covered Bridge Festival in Rockville, Indiana, in 1992 Barb lived out of her van for 10 days to be able to attend the show, where she used a card table to display products and teach people to tat. The art of tatting intrigued both old and young, and Handy Hands grew, incorporating in 1995 and working with its first distributor, Lacis.
Since that first craft show and tatting demonstration, Handy Hands has taught hundreds of people to tat, and has worked with many stores across America, to help them to teach their customers this beautiful art.
New Products Enrich Tatting Line
After its first book, Handy Hands made book publishing a regular event, covering many different styles of needle and shuttle tatting, with pages full of exciting projects for tatters of all skill levels.
Later, tatting became a foundation for expansion into other needlework products. When tatters expressed a need for more colors of high-quality thread, Handy Hands commissioned the industry’s largest array of colors in a line of Egyptian long staple cotton thread for tatting. Rich, vibrant LizbethÂ® thread is now widely known as the market’s most versatile thread, with four sizes, allowing you to work with just about any type of project, including crochet and knitting. The company carries shuttles, needles, tools and books from other companies to round out its tatting and needlework product offerings.
In recent years, to meet the needs of demanding needle crafters at all skill levels, Handy Hands began engineering and manufacturing its own line of tools, including the LizbethÂ® Thread Holder and the Starlitâ„¢ Shuttle. The Aerlitâ„¢ Shuttle is a reproduction of a popular shuttle from days past that had been discontinued and they are looking at introduction it in the Fall 2012.
It All Comes Back to Family
Over many fulfilling years, Handy Hands has enjoyed the fellowship of family and friends who have helped grow the tatting company.
All three of the our children have played roles in the success of Hand Hands. Son Philip contributes to the technical design of products. Rebekah, in addition to her early appearance on the first book cover, uses her marketing and education degrees to help produce Handy Hands ads. The youngest, Elizabeth, with her engineering degree helped draw our line of tools. Husband Jim Foster put up the money for the first book, often demonstrates at trade shows and keeps the Handy Hands warehouse running smoothly in addition to working a job deconstructing grain bins. Yes, he knows how to tat! Barb’s sister-in-law Kay married to the brother-in-law who suggested the first book began working for Handy Hands in 1993, and still works part time as office manager. Other family members also work for us including nieces, another sister-in-law and a daughter-in-law.
Friends, both old and new, have become important members of the Handy Hands family. Jules and Kaethe of Lacis, for example, became dear friends from the beginning, and the Handy Hands family was deeply saddened by Kaethe’s death several years ago. Sandy, who likes to stay in the background, must be mentioned anyway to thank her for quality proofing of the books and testing of the patterns, as well as her fabulous tatting designs, steadfast support and friendship. In 1993, Barb learned how to shuttle tat from Kendra Goodnow, and Kendra now works for Handy Hands, designing patterns, proofing books and newsletters, evaluating and testing threads, and offering incredibly valuable advice.
It’s fitting that family and friends are a big part of the Handy Hands world. Tatting is enjoyed by all ages and often passed down from one generation to the next. Welcome to the world of Handy Hands!