Crafty Katrina has it all sewn up

Katrina Gormley. DER3114MC029
Katrina Gormley. DER3114MC029

The wealth of creative talent in Derry is well known, but Katrina Gormley is someone who has more than her fair share.

A singing teacher with the Western Education and Library Board, under its Musical Pathways programme, she also runs her own private singing classes, and in her ‘spare’ time creates beautiful couture pieces by crochet, knitting and occasionally ribbons too.

Talking about her creative flair she simply states, “It’s in my blood. My family all crochet and knit so I’ve pretty much grown up with it.

“My mum made my confirmation outfit and I vividly remember her making me a suit one Easter. She hadn’t worked out how to do button holes so she sewed me into the blazer on the way out the door!

“She would have knitted us all Aran jumpers too, and as I got older she made my formal dresses. I would have gone to her with an idea and it’s no surprise they were quite over the top! But she still made them for me.”

With this sort of background it is no surprise to hear that Katrin, 30, a has her own fledgling business, ‘Finders Keepers Couture’.

She specialises in creating hats and fascinators from crocheting, but it was a one off piece she made for herself that got the ball rolling.

“My mum. sisters and I decided to go to the Irish Grand National on Ladies’ Day. We all wanted to go with big hats but I had made a pink disc hat from crochet so I thought it might work really well if I glued the fabric together to make it stiff. It worked, and I’ve been making pieces ever since.

“I’ve no children of my own so I was a bit fed up making simple blankets. Now I make loads of different hats, including some made from ribbons. At the start it was mainly for friends but I’ve started up my own business and it’s going well.”

Katrina is also starting to branch out into making clothes from crochet, with her work due to be exhibited as part of a fashion show in the Guildhall at the end of the month. It’s being held to launch the Spring Summer collection of designer ‘Topher Lily’ with local designers, including Katrina, also showcasing their work.

One of the pieces she is making is an intricate backless top. It has taken her in excess of 30 hours to create so far, and it’s not finished yet.

Katrina explains, “For something to be unique and different will naturally be time-consuming but people do underestimate the length of time it takes to create fashion pieces.

“It varies depending on the detail and size of the piece but the work is generally relaxing and therapeutic to me so I don’t mind.”

Professionally, Katrina’s day job is as a facilitator for the Musical Pathways programme which is run by the Western Education and Library Board.

Last year, as part of the City of Culture Music Promise, more than 7000 children had music tuition in school, delivered by Katrina and her colleagues.

“The programme ran from September 2012 to December 2013 and there’s no denying that the City of Culture year was the biggest and best for us so far.

“It’s such a joy to teach children and I have so many experiences with local kids that I will treasure for a long time.

“Music and singing tends to bring about a level playing field in the classroom, no-one is ‘no good’ and everyone gets to have a go.”

Personally, Katrina also runs her own singing classes, called ‘Singing in the Brain’, adding another string to her already impressive bow.

“I run my classes locally and they’re all about confidence building. I would say they’re relaxed in atmosphere and if anyone wants to sing solo then they get the chance.

“I’ve learned very quickly to never under-estimate children, in what they can do or how they think. They constantly surprise me with their confidence and ability.”

Katrina’s own singing background is also filled with capability.

“I’ve always wanted to sing, from as young as five-years-old. Every production and choir at school, I was in it!

“I also had private singing lessons with Raymond Kelly, and he made me do the theory as well as the practical singing.

“I hated learning about harmony and modulation but when I went to study music at university I was glad he made me do it!”

Katrina studied music at the University of Ulster based at Magee, and also completed her Masters there, after being awarded a scholarship from the European Social Fund.

“It was a full on year which included a public recital as my dissertation, covering a Bach Cantata as well as some French music and an American song cycle by Copeland.”

It’s no wonder then that she is well versed in teaching her young students.

With so much going on, it’s no surprise to find she is enjoying spending her summer finishing off her fashion pieces.

“I can’t ever see a time when I don’t do crochet or knitting in some shape or form. Music is something I love but it’s the creative hands-on work that keeps me relaxed!”

You can find both of Katrina’s businesses, ‘Finders Keepers Couture’ and ‘Singing in the Brain’ on Facebook.