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Making It Work: Kat Goldin

These days I often get asked for career advice – presumably because I turned my passion for knitting and crochet into my job. I have my own story to tell, of course, but I also know a huge amount of inspirational women who have turned their talent and passion for making into a business. So, I have asked a handful of these fantastic ladies to share their stories with me. You’ll see these interviews popping up on Fourth Edition from time to time under the “Making It Work” moniker. I hope you’ll enjoy these blog posts.

– Karie


You are Kat Goldin, the author of Crochet at Play, the creative soul behind The Crochet Project and Capturing Childhood, an established knitting & crochet designer, and a craft tutor among many other ventures. How would you describe what it is you do?

I think I am a story teller. A handmade item tells a story – it moves from the inspiration, the pattern or the yarn, how it was made, how it looks, and how you keep or give it.  It is the same with photography, I use the camera to tell the story of my life, my children’s lives, or the piece of hand knitting or crochet that I am photographing.

What is a typical working week like for you? I know you have a young family!

Its rather hectic, to say the least. I work every day. Usually  I am up most mornings at 5 to work before the kids are up, then I stop for a couple of manic hours that involve chasing naked children and making an army’s worth of toast. It can be extremely stressful, but I have a very hands on and supportive partner, so we make it work because we have to.
Because there are so many different elements to my work, I try to schedule things when I can. In Scotland, of course, one has the weather and light to take into consideration and this where the planning has to sometimes be flexible. If I am scheduling a photo-shoot, we have to either run the gauntlet or take a good day as soon as it comes and throw everything else out the window.

I often do phone calls and Skype with my other business partners in the evening when the kids are in other hands, and we even schedule working holidays together, so our families are all part of the business ecosystem.

As a female entrepreneur in the crafts industry, what has been the most surprising aspects of starting your own creative business?

Before I started my business, I worked in the civil service.  I remember distinctly being unhappy and thinking about working for myself.  However, I just couldn’t see that I would have the discipline. I could barely get motivated to do my work when I had a boss watching me, so how could I be responsible for managing my own working life?  Well, as noted above, this is not the case. I love my work and seem to have an endless amount of energy an motivation to keep going and growing. Not to say that there aren’t often times when I cry in despair over just how much I have committed to!

It is also extremely difficult to make money this way and takes a lot of careful decision making and planning. Everything from the cost of yarn, postage, subscriptions,  to childcare has to be taken into consideration and costed against income and the margins can be tight. It is not for the faint hearted, but if you have passion and commitment and good support from peers, you can definitely evolve a business.

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Any advice for people wanting to start their own creative venture?

Do it! It can be scary and tough and a lot of work, but in the end it is so worth the risk!

Scotland is a really interesting place to work and live for anyone interested in the textiles and crafts industry. What difference does Scotland make for you in your work?

I don’t know how one can live here and not be effected by it.

I live in Alloa, former home of Patons and across the street from the houses he built for his daughters. Textile history is all around me. Whenever anyone hears what I do for a living, I am immediately told about the mills and the jumpers their mothers used to make for them. I am the recipient of the entire neighbourhood’s excess knitting paraphernalia and have been known to discuss shoulder construction with Grannys picking up kids from school. I don’t think I would have that in my native Iowa where discussion was often about fishing or hunting.

Beyond that, I am hugely drawn to the colour palette that surrounds me here. I’d never really seen the sea or mountains until I moved here, and they have had an undeniable impact on my designs.

I want to ask about The Crochet Project – I think it is such a refreshing web-based showcase for contemporary crochet design. What prompted you to start it?

It was actually my co-editor Joanne Scrace’s idea. We work phenomenally well together, so it really is a match made in heaven.  We each bring different skills to the mix – Joanne has an incredible eye for detail and can really think through designs and make sure we have all of the technical details sorted, where I use my skills in photography to make sure the project makes a great first impression. We were bemoaning the lack of showcases for contemporary crochet design and she suggested we start our own.

There is no doubt that crochet design is a very different market to that of knitwear.  I have always struggled to find many that are the kinds of things I want to make or give. I want beauty and drape and wearability. I want things that are beautifully photographed.  However, there hasn’t been much of that around, so we have gone forth to make our own. Crochet deserves not to be neglected and it certainly doesn’t have to be ugly or lack purpose. I don’t make egg cosies or doilies for a reason, I believe crochet can do more and better.
And now we are expanding our vision under the umbrella of The Yarn Project to include a similar showcase for knit wear design due to be launched in 2014 after the second edition of The Crochet Project this autumn.

What plans do you have for the future?

I am working on my second book with Kyle Books, the second issue of The Crochet Project, more photography workshops with Capturing Childhood and a couple of other secret projects launching early next year.  My future is busy!!

A huge thank you to Kat for taking the time to sit down for a chat with me. You can find Kat on Twitter, Ravelry and Facebook.

Do you have a question you want to ask a craft pro? Let me know.

Gift-Buying Guide For Knitters

So, you want to buy a great gift for the knitter in your life? And you haven’t a clue where to start? I have written this gift-buying guide for people just like you.

Linkage

Link dump day!

+ Europe, Explained: a nice map which summarises it all for confused non-Europeans.
+ Puppets need puppets too.
+ Vegetarian-friendly roadkill carpet
+ The prettiest yarn shop in Denmark? I like my yarn shops over-stuffed, but if you like minimalism..
+ Sweden has its own Etsy-like site.
+ This is a real film: Tiptoes stars Matthew McConaughey as a “normal-sized dwarf”, Gary Oldman as his, er, dwarf-sized dwarf brother and Kate Beckinsale as the love interest. Peter Dinkdale features as a a crazy French radical dwarf. I kid you not.
+ 13 Alien Languages You Can Actually Read.
+ This is what happens when knitting gets serious. Like, REALLY serious. Sock Summit 2009. Check out the graphics.
+ Maia Hirasawa: The Worrying Kind. A stunning, stunning cover where I don’t think you need to know the original to appreciate it.
+ Jar Jar Binks salad
+ British Library’s treasures. You could spend an entire afternoon just faffing about (well, I could).
+ Field Notes. I covet. I covet badly.

Joss Whedon Is Crafty

It’s an age-old war. Like the werewolves and the vampires. I think Underworld was actually originally about crocheters and knitters but they thought it would be too controversial so they changed it to vampires and werewolves.

Buffy, Firefly, Dr Horrible’s Sing-along Blog and Angel-creator, Joss Whedon opens up about his crafty side.

As a huge Firefly geek, it’s particularly thrilling to hear Joss Whedon explaining Jayne Cobb’s hat .. but the entire interview is awesome..

Like I’m saying, the sort of people who understand the DIY mentality are more about the doing than the having. So I think that ultimately, my advice is what my advice always is: Make stuff. You know. Right now, because of digital technology, you can make crafty little movies, you can make crafty little things that go up for millions of people to see. You can sort of combine the two ethos-ethoses-ethosees… And grab a video camera, tell a story. Be stupid, be something, just … It is no longer the time of sitting around and thinking about doing something. If you’re going to do that, you can, you know, crochet, and you’re already doing it.

.. yes, awesome. Joss Whedon is awesome. Yes.

Vintage Buttons

Sometimes you get lucky.

Before David’s birthday dinner, we went walking around Glasgow’s West End and eventually dipped into our favourite second-hand shop.

Dave spotted a tin filled with old buttons and asked the owner how much they’d be. “Oh, I have plenty more.. haven’t really looked through ’em. So many, you know. Was going to throw most of them out,” the owner said, in his characteristically abrupt way. And a few seconds later he emerged with three more tins and a big shopping bag.

You know what happened next.

At first I reckoned I had scored maybe 200 vintage buttons but I was way off the mark. I have tentatively sorted maybe half of the buttons (the big ‘uns first!) into three boxes. The large plastic bag remains uncharted territory. You can see some of the already-paired-up buttons in the picture on the left. Judging from the style and a few Canadian(!) coins I found, the button collection appears to have been amassed between mid-1930s to late 1970s: a few buttons have a distinct late Art Deco feel to them, some are definitely made from Bakelite and some are still on the original cardboard.

An early Christmas gift from me to me. How much? You wouldn’t believe me..

Needle & the Damage Done

Honestly? I have never been interested in cross-stitching and my very few attempts at stitching ended badly. These cross-stitch versions of Banksy’s street art might just tempt me into picking up a needle and the thread, though.

The site is in Swedish, but all you need to know is that “ladda hem” means download and “gratis” means free. Yes, they offer free downloads of Banksy cross-stitch patterns. You can also grab skulls, feminist symbols and ’80s Michael Jackson patterns.