Meet The Artist: Kate Shields - Darn Good Yarn

Meet The Artist: Kate Shields

NAME: Kate Shields 
SOCIAL: @knitologyco,  ETSY

Kate Shields started knitting 13 years ago, and since then has started her own small business, where she has a loyal following on Instagram, Pinterest, and her very own Etsy shop.  

... Not to mention, Kate is a senior in college, and started her business when she was a freshman. By channeling her creative energy into a business, she was able to not only have her own personal outlet, but she was also able to fund her creative projects (and buy textbooks) with the sales. 

Kate designed a fun, comfortable and customized crop top, exclusively for Darn good Yarn. Continue on to read more about her knitting journey, and to download her Get It, Girl Crop Top

1. When did you start knitting? How did you learn?

So how I got into knitting is kind of a funny story. When I was younger, I would visit my grandma over the summer for a few days at a time. Since I was an overly chatty nine year old, she was always looking for new things to keep us busy (i.e.keep her from playing “veterinarian” on the floor with me). One afternoon we went to Barnes and Noble, but instead of coming home with just a book, she gifted me a beginner knitting set. Now, mind you my grandma was not crafty, and not afraid to admit it, so I think she did this to keep me quiet for an afternoon. Honestly, I don’t blame her. I found out recently she STILL has the very first thing I ever made (a coin purse that looks… interesting, and not like a coin purse). She says she carries it around with her all the time and actually does keep her coins in it. Ha! 13 years later and it’s still going strong.

2. What is your favorite memory involving knitting?

This sounds so lame, but my favorite memory of knitting isn’t actually really a memory at all, it’s the craft itself. It’s given me so many wonderful conversations with strangers in coffee shops, something to hold when I go to the movie theatre
by myself (it sounds so sad, but seriously, it’s amazing), and a quiet contentment even in my most “Britney 2007” moments.

3. What inspired you to create your own small business?

My small business started as something to feed my habit, honestly. I was a
freshman in college who hadn’t picked up knitting needles in… 5 years? 7 years? Something like that. I jumped back into it as a way to keep my mind and hands busy so that I didn’t stress out about my schoolwork. Fast forward another year and it was the only way I could stay awake in some lectures. I was accumulating so much creative energy and didn’t have an outlet to really express it (remember, I was in college and broke, so I definitely couldn’t fund the habit by myself). I realized that college students (women in particular) didn’t have affordable, fashionable winter knitwear, and decided to do something about it. Now this little business helps me pay for textbooks (I call that full circle) and all of the other things that make life just a little easier.

4. What has been the biggest challenge you have faced so far in your fiber arts career?

Most definitely and by far, self-doubt and awkwardness. There’s something so
weird when your friends and acquaintances know you have an “unconventional”
business. It becomes the topic of conversation whenever there’s a lull, “Oh… So
how is that… Business(?) of yours going?” which only really fuels the previously
mentioned self-doubt. Even though the business is doing really well and you’re
confident in your product, you don’t feel like saying it to avoid hubris. So you
brush it off, act like it’s going well, but not too well, and then switch the
conversation to something that doesn’t make you feel like you’re walking on egg
shells. It’s something I definitely hope to work on this year, but as of right now,
the battle rages on.

5. What tips do you have for other crafters who are looking to take their art to the next level?

Hone your craft. Research it. Experiment with it. Always, always, always, talk to
people who have more experience than you. My favorite saying is, “Always look
for the smartest person in the room. If it’s you, find a different room.” Perfecting
the basics is a MUST, but churning out designs in a flash is not. I’m not a pattern
follower to start out, personally. It took me nearly 7 months to make a hat that an
adult human being could actually wear. Would it have been easier to just follow a
pattern and move on? Oh, absolutely. But I wouldn’t have learned any of the
things I did along the way. I wouldn’t have learned the importance of actually
following the gauge, or how certain stitches contract your work and how others
expand it. Work on understanding why or how knitting (or your other craft) works,
and I promise you will be able to solve a lot of your bumps in the road on your

6. What’s next for you?  

Graduation! Ha! I really hope that I survive the rest of the school year (I only have
to make it to May) with my knitting hands intact. After that, it’s designing up a
storm for the next season and enjoying the summer weather while it’s here!