Dakota’s windy weather makes it a perfect place for kites

Posted November 15, 2013 at 11:20 am

Jan Kittelson|The Miller Press

Eva Nissen.jpg

GO FLY A KITE! Eva Nissen had great fun flying a kite last week, which she had made with leftover “kite” material.

Eva Nissen is retired now, and lives at the Miller Manor. However, that doesn’t stop her enthusiasm for doing the fun things in life…like making kites, and flying them.

The kite she flew last week was made of leftover “kite” material, and Eva says she has very few full pieces left, because the material is no longer available to purchase.

“They’re using the material for space stations,” Eva explained. “That tells you how tough the material is.”

A piece of fabric 60 inches wide is required to make a kite, Eva says. She’s using some smaller pieces to make “patchwork” kites, but basically she is “finishing up” using the material she has on hand.

Her love affair with kites and windsocks goes back several years…to about 1978. She wanted to make a kite for her first grandchild, Kimberly.

She didn’t know much about kite making or kite flying, so Eva did research and came up with a nylon Delta kite with a vented keel. The design made it easier for her young grandchild to fly her very own kite.

Eva kept making more kites, first for her own family and neighborhood kids, as well as windsocks. A friend convinced her to go to a craft show, and things mushroomed from there.

She discovered the rip-stop nylon material was long-lasting. She purchased it from Raven Industries in Huron, noting she used pieces of material that was left after the Raven employees cut out the hot air balloons and parachutes.

By the early ‘90s, Eva and her husband Alvie had a “full-blown” business. They took their products to shows all around the country.

“There were also scraps left over from the kites, and I’d make beanbags and give them to schools,” Eva recounts.

In its heyday, “Kites by Keval” employed part-time employees in three states who did sewing in their homes in order to keep up with the demand. Eva would do the finishing work.

For several years, Eva and Alvie traveled many a mile via their motor home, going to numerous exhibitions, showing their wares and making friends. They took time off from December through March to spend time with their family, but they thoroughly enjoyed their life on the road.

Eva recalls that they didn’t want a website, or other advertising methods to cut down on their actual time at shows. “Alvie said ‘You can’t hug a computer and I need hugs’.”

After Alvie’s death in December 2007, Eva no longer took the mobile home to craft fairs, but she has continued sewing, staying active, and enjoying life to its fullest.

Including taking a kite outside to fly on a windy November day.