Like many knitters, my history with the craft began early in my life. I was seven years old when my friend’s mother was teaching her how to knit. I asked her to teach me, too. I knit a shawl for my doll. I remember that by the time I was done it was dirty, twisted and triangular due to my sweaty little hands, hard work and unintentional tension changes. This was the beginning, and from that point on I was determined, and definitely hooked.
Using raw materials and simple tools to make things that are beautiful and functional has always intrigued me. Creating an object “one stitch at a time” is a powerful experience. As an art therapist, I have sometimes used knitting with my clients. I am pleased that I have passed this magical craft onto hundreds of others, mostly adolescent girls and boys. Knitting has so much to offer, encouraging relaxation, community building, and metaphorical lessons. It is possible to make a mistake, undo it and redo in a better way.
I have always loved any stitched craft. As a mixed media artist I have used my skills to combine materials, colors and textures. In November 1985, I created a large hand bound book and started to document my knitting. This documentation has continued to the present.
I am inspired by beautiful yarn. The fibers, textures and colors of Shibui yarn all draw me in. I love the flexibility that “mixing” the weights of their yarn give to me in my designing process.
My garden, my walks around my neighborhood and my knitting group are all sources of inspiration. My knitted pieces are named after the streets of my city, where I frequently take my walks, collecting sights and found objects.
I have been a member of a “tight knit” knitting group for nine years. We share projects, life stories of all kinds, and of course, food. The members of my group have been so supportive of my design work.
Here is a picture of part of the knitting group (Teresa, Phyllis, Ann and me) at the launch party for Black Bird Knits.
When designing for children I consider sweaters that will be comfortable and handsome on my own grandchildren.
I also spend a good deal of my time at The Genesee Center for the Arts working on my fine artwork. Spending time working with a community of artists is of great value to me. This is where I work on my Black Bird prints and my current stitched figure/print work.
I have been designing my knitwear for almost as long as I have been knitting. In recent years I decided to launch Black Bird Knits to see if others would be interested in my designs and related prints. It has been a huge learning process and very satisfying on so many levels, both interpersonally and professionally.
To see more of Kate’s work, visit her website at blackbirdknits.com.