The Yarn Alchemist Spotlight series on the Aroha Knits blog was started up by Ash Christine. She wanted to use the Aroha Knits platform as a way to shine a light on the hidden gems in the community and give them the opportunity to share their story. Today she brings us the first interview with Erin Kurup!
1 - Tell us a little about yourself and how you got started in knitting
I’m Erin, and I live in southwestern Ohio with my young son and our cat. I’ve always felt like I wanted to be a pioneer; Laura Ingalls Wilder was a childhood heroine, and my 1850s American Girl doll went everywhere with me. Knitting fits right in! My mother and grandmother were both knitters. I have a photo of myself, when I was about six, with my grandma. We were working together on the big cream-colored afghan that my parents still keep on their couch. For the intervening two decades, I was an occasional knitter. In college, I made scarves for anyone who promised to wear one. A few years later, I dipped my toe into lace (and never looked back!) My knitting hobby morphed into a constant companion, in the spring of 2016, shortly after my son was born. I went through a tough personal time, and turned to knitting for stress relief and grounding. Since then, I’m rarely far from my current WIP!
2 - What type of Fibre Muse are you? ( http://www.arohaknits.com/im-a-fibre-muse#quiz )
I’m a Mystic!
3 - When did you decide to shift gears and take knitting from a hobby into a career?
Designing came to me during a dark spot, personally. I had been through a very sudden divorce, and moved cross country with my infant son. I was living with my parents, hardly sleeping because my son wasn’t, and fighting an extended nursing strike. I desperately needed something creative and me-focused, which would fit into a crazy schedule over which I had (and still have) very little control. On a total whim, I joined Francoise’s amazing Initiate Knit Design challenge. It took me months to release that first pattern, but I haven’t looked back since!
4 - How do you see your work making an impact in the fibre industry/community?
I really want my patterns to be a joy to knit from, for a wide range of knitters. Part of my background is in editing, and I think that really comes into play with pattern writing. I think hard about the best way to lay my patterns out and explain them, often breaking with convention when a different approach seems clearer. I provide supplemental information in the pattern and on my website, as needed, and work closely with test knitters not just to find errors, but also to improve the experience of knitting my designs. The biggest compliment I ever received was from one of my test knitters, who said mine were some of the clearest patterns she’d ever encountered, and that I could teach others how to write good patterns.
5 - What is one challenge you've faced in your designing and how have you overcome it?
Like so many budding designers, I had an intense fear of putting something I designed out into the world. It took me eight months to release my first design! When I finally did so, I made a deal with myself to release one pattern a month, for six months, before I could quit. That got me through the worst of it. The more patterns I release, the more comfortable I feel. My sixth pattern (the Birchgrove Cowl) came out in October, and I have no plans to stop designing. Now, monthly releases are just my normal.
6 - How would you define your brand?
Well, for starters, I’m a little bit silly. All of my patterns and Ravelry pages include a goofy shot from the photo shoot, and when I remember I add to #sillyknittingselfie on Instagram. I gravitate toward lacy-but-practical, fun-to-knit, and easy-to-wear neck accessories. I love playing with how lace motifs interact with Stockinette or Garter Stitch, and how to make sure a piece lays really nicely when worn, which often means tinkering with shaping. I’m also big on story. I really do believe knitting is a form of storytelling and that, if we let it, it can transform the pieces we create from mere objects to records of our lives that we can wear, gift, or display. This fall I launched what I hope will become the annual Knit Your Story KAL, which is focused on intentionally incorporating story into a knitted project.
I’m also big on story.
I really do believe knitting is a form of storytelling and that, if we let it, it can transform the pieces we create from mere objects to records of our lives that we can wear, gift, or display.
7 - Where do you draw your inspiration?
Most often, I’ll find one element to start with, and the others just fall into place. I’ll be inspired by a particular yarn, and see a piece taking shape in my head (which happened with my Dormancy Wrap), then go on a hunt for the perfect stitch pattern to realize that vision. Or, I’ll fall in love with a stitch pattern (which was the case with my Chandelic Shawl, coming in December 2017) and then come across a beautiful indie-dyed yarn on Instagram. I'll message the dyer to see of s/he would be interested in collaborating. Some of my favorite designs have come about this way...I adore working with indie dyers!
8 - What's on your horizon for next year?
More collaborations with indie dyers, I hope! I love getting to know the person behind the yarn, and combining our skills and strengths to create something beautiful. At the moment, with my other life constraints, the one-pattern-a-month rhythm works very well for me, so I expect to carry on in that vein for the time being. I plan to run the Knit Your Story KAL again next fall, and in between now and then…who knows??
I love getting to know the person behind the yarn, and combining our skills and strengths to create something beautiful.
You can find Erin and her magical designs here:
Main website - www.remadebyhand.com
Ravelry - https://www.ravelry.com/patterns/sources/remade-by-hand-designs/patterns
Instagram - https://www.instagram.com/remadebyhand/