Karen decorates many different types of objects with machine embroidery. Her personalized hats and T-shirts are often seen around Tanglewood.
Karen remembers, “I have been interested in making and decorating clothing most of my life. I grew up in the small town of Hayward, Wisconsin.” She met her husband Jack (John) Nelson in High School. They married June 6, 1959, in Fort Gordon, Georgia and lived for 22 years in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota, 12 years in Boca Raton, Florida, 10 years in Longmont, Colorado. The couple has three children: Jay in Minnesota, Jude in Colorado, and Jeff in California.
“In 1984 my husband and I moved to Boca Raton. Our children were on their own and I had time to follow my interest. I started with appliqués on T-shirts.
“Then in 1990, I was shopping in a mall where they were machine embroidering clothing and other items. I really wanted to learn how I could become involved in this type of work. Of course, the internet was not around at the time. The people working in the kiosk were not about to tell me where I could purchase a machine of this kind.
“That was the start of my goal to someday do machine embroidery. A couple of years later, in a sewing machine retail store, they were demonstrating a home embroidery machine. And I decided then I would have one the day when I retired.”
Karen continued her interest in machine embroidery. “I bought my first machine in 1997. In 2000, I received a flyer for an open house and demonstration on commercial embroidery machines. I decided to attend and that was the beginning of my quest to starting a business in this field. Within 6 months my husband and I purchased a single head, 9 needle commercial embroidery machine. In 2001 I registered my business under the name “Kan Du Embroidery” and started working part-time on this while still working a full-time job.
“While we were living in Longmont, Colorado, and working for Seagate Technology, a computer drive company, we were looking for an RV Port home park. We stopped in Sebring to visit a friend we knew while living in Boca Raton. He told us there was a new park called Tanglewood in Sebring. In January of 2006, we stopped in and took the tour looking at several regular homes. (RV port homes were no longer available.) Before we returned to Colorado, we put a deposit down on our home. We moved in on November 21, 2006.”
Today Karen uses a Brother 6-needle embroidery machine and a Baby Lock embroidery/sewing machine. Both machines are programable. She often takes artwork from a customer and digitizes the design to embroidery format. Fabric must be stretched in a hoop. It takes considerable skill to set up the design and equipment, making sure to center the design in its proper place on the item.
“Since moving to Tanglewood, I have been working from my home in Dream Catcher. I started out making up logos of each section in the park.”
Karen displays her work at the Tanglewood Craft Fair.
Karen and Jack live year-round at 4196 Smoke Signal. Or you may contact her by phoning 863-385-8274 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.