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Naturally when you don’t have the deep yellow fiber that you want…need?…and your spinning wheel is hot, you don the rubber gloves, get the turmeric from the kitchen and start the dye vat! At least that’s what happens when color grabs you by the throat and you have the good sense to follow that passion like my guest has.
Kat Eldred is the founder and dyer behind Why Knot Fibers, a small hand-dyed yarn company specializing in rich nature inspired tonal colors, as well as farm-to-needle yarns and fibers. She began crocheting and knitting at at an early age, though she took a break in her teens before returning to yarn crafts in college. Kat has also been a musician most of her life, making music with friends and family and songwriting since age 12. Kat began dyeing after she took up spinning in her twenties and couldn’t find “just” the right colorway she wanted: Enter powdered turmeric and some alpaca roving, and the rest is the colors you see now see from WKF. Nearly a decade later, she is still playing with color, creating color, making music, spinning, and knitting in Traverse City, Michigan with her husband, Steve and their teens, Liam & Sadie (as well as 2 dogs and 3 cats – much to their annoyance, are NOT allowed in the studio). The business name came from a phrase that Kat says quite often “Sure! Why not?”
Kat and I talk all things making and how her love of color led to a business dying yarn. A path she didn’t intend on taking. But she allowed the magic of following what she’s passionate about to lead her and here she is!
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Hey there, you’re listening to the Internship podcast, and today I have the distinct pleasure of having this very candid, kind of unplugged conversation with Kat Eldred. She is a founder of Why Knot Fibers. She creates the most beautiful, deep, rich, saturated jeweled yarns that I swear were made just.
Maybe you’ll like them too. You know what? I know you’ll love them too. They’re beautiful and they just evoke a little gasp when you see them. We have a great conversation about how Kat was raised as a feral child. Those are her words, and we talk about. What her making journey look like.
How she sort of fell into a business, how she sort of fell into becoming a business owner. Um, the things that she does that bring vibrancy to her life. And we also talk a little bit about the before and after feelings that you get when you’ve had a house fire. We do go into the loss of that when you lose some pets in that fire and all of the things that you no longer own, that you used to own, and kind of the drama that can come from that kind of loss. And we just have a rolliking in good time. So I hope that you also enjoy taking a listen.
Let’s get. You are listening to the In Kinship Podcast, a podcast for makers who crave a vibrant, joyful life on their own terms. Today’s podcast is sponsored by Brooks Ann Camper.
Brooks Ann Camper has a variety of online courses, a beautiful custom bridal blog, and a lovely newsletter that you can find on her site at brooksann.com. That’s B R O O K S A N n.com. Brooks Ann shows people how to sew clothing from their very own. Not just sew clothing, but how to design what they wanna wear, how to create a pattern, how to use their own measurements to do that. And you don’t have to be a math whiz .
Take a look brooksann.com.
Tina: On today’s show, I am honored to have Kat Eldred
Kat: Thank you for having me.
Tina: So I wanna say, I feel like I know you. I don’t, obviously what I know is some of the yarn that you’ve produced and I’ve spent lots of hours working it. I crocheted it into this beautiful little cowl and I have more yarn that it’s gonna become. Probably another cowl, quite honestly, cuz I do love Cowy cape.
Especially more like a Cape Lit.
Kat: Like a cape. Yeah. Yeah. Because then it like actually covers the back of your neck and the top of your shoulders,
Kat: which I definitely found that to be a more chilly place as I have been advanced in my years is it’s like I need, I don’t wanna be strangled by what I’m keep being kept worn by, but I need that warmth.
Tina: yeah. And everyone’s like, isn’t the rest of your body cold? And like, no, it’s just my shoulders pretty much. But they, I also feel a little bit like a superhero when I have it on. Right. Because I can like, and I stru around with these tall boots on and I’ve got my capelet and I’ve got maybe some fingerless mitts because you know, it does the whole
Kat: gauntlet, you know,
Tina: Yeah, exactly.
Works out really well. So I picked up some yarn that you had dyed at probably the tip of the Mitt’ Fair because it’s my favorite fiber fair to go to and it’s in my back door. , and I love the colors that you produce, yours is the booth that every time I walk in I’m like, go be still
Kat: Oh, that, that just gives me all the like warm gushy feelings because like, that’s exactly how I wanted to feel. Color is the thing that he’s grabbed me by the throat since I started dying there. Um, I, oops. Started the business like, Almost 15 years ago, I was not intending to go into fiber arts. I love them, but, um, I was a crochet when I was little, and then I decided I wanted to learn a knit, so I went and find a book because, anyway, I’m getting off topic already here.
Anyway . What is the topic?
Tina: Who knows. Just keep going.
Kat: Okay, fine. Um, because I was home educated or unschooled. I was a feral child. Um, yeah, it’s really, it’s true. It’s true because like there wasn’t structure. It was, you know, we’re gonna learn the things and that there were pros and cons to that, of course.
And not gonna throw anybody into the bus here, but it. . It was, there were certainly things that I did not know coming into the real world from that. But there were also a lot of things that I didn’t end up having to go through with peer pressure and with, um, I wasn’t exposed to some of the more shady bits of high school.
Uh, it was more like late college. And by late college, I mean the whole two years that I went. But that’s a whole nother story. So, um, I picked up a book, taught myself the knit, I crocheted at the time, did the whole like teenage hiatus, which I feel like is kind of like this thing, oh, well I have too many other things to do, like soccer and boys.
And, um, well that sounded bad to pursue. How about that ? Cause I really was a very good girl,
Tina: right? Yeah. Feral, good.
Kat: feral but good. Yes. Yes. Um, chaotic. Good. We’ll go with that. Um, . So I returned to the knitting in my late teens, early twenties when I was starting to go to college because you know, everyone needs a general ed degree focusing on music and composition, cuz that’ll get you a job.
Because it’s not really a music composition and performance degree at community college. It’s a general ed degree. So two years in, I ended up going to work full-time instead of doing school.
Cuz funny enough, you gotta pay bills, you know? Yeah. And eat. That’s, that’s a good perk. But I was getting back into knitting, but I didn’t use patterns. Oh no, no. I was too cool to use patterns, aka a I was intimidated by them and didn’t wanna admit it.
Kat: And that went on until my mid twenties, like I was having my second child. I’ve got two teenagers. And they’re awesome. And also we make each other crazy just like we’re supposed to.
Tina: Yeah. Are they feral as well?
Kat: they’re not feral. They are, um, free range. They go to school, they go to an alternative high school here in Traverse City.
But, um, as you say, I digress,
Kat: and I’ll come back around to that. But the knitting, like the, it all kind of intertwines because I was a medical transcriptionist working from home, basically living in the corner of our bedroom for about seven years. And seeing as I am, um hmm. I come across as a very extroverted person, but what I actually am is an intro extra where there’s certain pieces that don’t drain me and then there’s other pieces while I can bring it.
I then come home and just done, and there’s nothing left. And my husband used to call that the six week rotation. Um,
Tina: wait. What did he used to say?
Kat: it was the six week rotation because that’s about how long it took me to crash. because I would just go and go and go until I would crash. So knitting, and then I picked up a drop spindle, and then I rented a shop wheel from a local yard shop.
And after me having it for like three days, my husband’s like, if you don’t buy that, I’m buying it. And I was like, yeah, but he goes, you’re not cheating on your drop spindle just because you’re spinning on a wheel. I mean, that was totally the way my brain was going. Cause I was like, I’m so sorry. Drop spindle.
Tina: I’m a purist, right? I love you and I’m a purist and this is how, and this is what I would imagine. This is what happened for me because I definitely have things that like, I like to do the hard way, the even the even harder way. Yeah. Just a few , the even harder way. So then when I like let go and take something a little more mechanized and we’re just talking, you know, now you’ve got a wheel
Then you’re like, oh
Kat: Oh, oh, that.
Kat: But it worked so well for what I was doing because I was never gonna do any production spinning on a drop spindle and my myriad of drop spindles that I had of the various kinds, um, Turkish spindles, top whorl, bottom whorl.
The very first one I actually had was an oak bottom whorl. I’m actually looking at it right now because I still have it. An oak bottom whorl drop spindle that you were lucky if you could do worsted weighty yarn on, because it is hefty. My mom picked it up from an Amish store in Virginia, I think, and it is like solid.
So then when I got another drop spindle that was not quite so hefty, it felt like magic because. I could spin something that was consistent and that wasn’t breaking if I went too thin and suddenly it was aha. So then you add in the wheel and you add in the, actually trying a pattern, which the first pattern I decided was a good idea was, was not first of all, but it was a sock.
Okay? So we’re talking double pointed needles, fingering, weight yarn. It had bobbles, it had lace and it had cables. And it had variegated yarn. This is like all of the no boxes all in one. And I finished the first sock. I did. And, I should probably warn you, I make terrible jokes about all of the things that have happened in our life because we have like certain before and after, like everybody does with the pandemic.
Um, in 2012 we had a house fire and everything is before and after that.
So we had a house fire in 2012 and I had finished the first sock, but not the second sock. So there’s no point in finishing the second sock now because the first one doesn’t exist. Darn.
Tina: That’s kinda fortunate, isn’t it?
Kat: ed, yeah. You know, I’ll take it, I’ll take what I can get.
Um, there is a lot of things, other things that are less awesome about that, but that was my first time actually diving in saying, I’m not afraid of patterns and I did accomplish the thing. Should I have, that’s a whole nother question. Like, boy, that was a really interesting sock. . I learned a lot.
And then I moved on from there. Um, when I started spinning, I then wanted to spin all of the things because again, it’s that like getting closer and closer to the beginning of things. And when at one point I did not have this golden yellow that I wanted to spin, and I had this box of alpaca roving that my mother-in-law had found for $22 at a yard sale.
And we’re talking like a giant box from ohio, fiber mill. And it was Surry. Like this was, yeah,
Tina: This is the Cadillac of Yarns folks, just so you
Kat: It was, it is just like yummy. So being me, I, um, oh, being me means I’m like, sure, let’s do the thing. Oh, that seemed like a good idea at the time. Um,
Tina: I I just wanted you to know, like we had already gathered that from this five minutes we’ve been talking, just so you
Kat: I don’t know what you’re talking about. Squirrel. Not that I’m actually diagnosed a d h adhd, but that I’m actually gonna be evaluated for that. Not sure I wanna do anything about it though. This is fun.
Um, so I go into the kitchen and as one does pull out the turmeric and dye some fiber, and that was my first suaree two dying things.
My friend was there and happened to take pictures of it. So I’m there like with a glove looking like a mad scientist pulling on the glove to go and deal with this. And I was like, well, that pretty much is me in a nutshell.
So, okay. Um, so I did that and then it was like, I couldn’t.
Kat: So I, um, ordered a beginner dye kit from greener shades, dyes because I didn’t want to be dealing with heavy metals and toxicity. And yes, you’re still dealing with powder because, so I have my respirator and all that kind of thing, but I can take it to a pH neutral and not kill my waterway.
Kat: So it’s, it’s all these lovely things. I, I continue to use ’em. I’ve used them for 10, 12, something like that. Years.
Tina: I wanna say your colors are like perfect for me, right? They’re rich and the ones that I’m drawn to, and , so then I think that’s all that you do is what I’m drawn to. So I don’t know if that’s entirely true.
But they have a depth to them and they have a kind of a, mm, a, I don’t know the word I wanna say
Kat: jewel tone is what I hear a lot.
Tina: Yes, they are definitely a jewel tone, but they’re like, uh, sophisticated jewel tone, even like Jewel tone is definitely there, but sophisticated is not quite the word I want either. I can’t think of the word I want.
They’re like smokey, for lack of better word, or.
Kat: Okay. So almost like a saddened
Tina: Yes, thank you.
Kat: When you use black or gray to bring down a, a color, it’s called saddening it. So like it’s an, um, it’s an actual official, I mean it’s got that l natural
Tina: it does.
Kat: face to it and like that’s what I’m drawn to. So I’m like, oh, yay. Cuz it always makes me happy. I do things that other people enjoy.
Tina: Absolutely. And it’s got that vintage feel to it too, right? Because
especially when I’m looking at like, you know, if I wanna be an extra on Outlander or maybe just get moved back into history and be on Outlander.
Kat: mean, you could hit, um, both the different parts of outlier. You could hit the sixties, the seventies, and the, uh in the 1760s right now.
But I actually stopped watching it.
Tina: I did too, cuz I’m like, well, I’ve read most of the books, but then it kind of gets like, okay, a little monotonous and you need a little break from it every once in a while and then you can get back in
Kat: how many times can she be rescued? How many times can she be accosted by white men? How many times, you know, can she be assaulted? And like, I’m just like, you know, we, we see enough of this in real life. I’m actually kind of done and I really enjoyed the books, but I just, it was it be, I don’t know. I’m sorry.
Tina: And I do have that same, I appreciate that. And I do have that same feeling of like, all right, I understand it was a dangerous time. Was it that dangerous? Am
Kat: I mean, yeah, because as a woman, can you imagine
like a time, you know, there’s some crappy stuff right now, but I can walk down the street by myself most of the time without having to have a chaperone.
Tina: That’s true. And I always, I think, I always just sort of assumed that the chaperone was more for your, um, Perceived virtue in high society and less for your actual virtue
Kat: Although there’s the safety and numbers piece of it.
Tina: Right. Okay. We digress. So you’ve been dyeing fibers, so the fiber that you sell right now on your website that you sell at different fares, and we can talk more about where all you sell it later on. Do you spin all of that yourself?
Tina: Oh, I just had a, like a little freaking heart attack when I thought for a moment that that’s what you’re saying. So thank you for clearing that up cuz you produce a lot of yarn and I’m like,
Kat: I, I do. And here’s the thing. There is that spinning a skein of yarn, if you’ve never spun a skein of yarn, if you’re using a wheel, not a drop spindle, you’re looking at eight to 18 hours minimum for a skein of yarn. And if I spun every skein of yarn that I sold, I would never even make a 10th of minimum wage.
I couldn’t sell it for what my time in was. But I actually mostly only spin for myself these days. I work with great mills that do great work. So I have a lot of mill spun yans. I work both with mills that do their own sourcing, and I have mills that I do the sourcing for, get the raw fiber, get all up in the business of it.
That’s like, that’s a whole story on its own. But the things that I work with, I. , the color is the thing. Like that’s the thing that grabbed me when I started out with spinning and dyeing the fiber, I spun some yarn. How I actually started selling my yarn was by accident because I had been spinning this skein and it was beautiful.
And it was this cashmere silk blend, which means it’s kind of a pain in the ass to spin because it’s short stapled. So it was this three ply, so like three strands plied together. So we’re talking a thin, thin one. So I haven’t been spending probably closer to those 18 hours with this skein of yarn.
And someone sees me finishing up plying goes, you know, are you gonna sell that? And I went, you know what? Yeah. Cause I don’t ever wanna touch it again. . And so I sold them this yarn and that is what started the whole thing .
I wasn’t trying to start a business. I didn’t have a business name. I was just all up in doing all of this. And then I started doing it. I started selling some of my hand spun. I started selling, um, dyed fiber. Like it was, it was all those things. And at one point , I was making and selling, because we all kind of go through that and some people keep doing it and like, kick and ass, like not to throw any shit on people home, making things because those handmade items, I mean, I only make for samples for my business or, um, Someone, said to me once that I thought this was brilliant. Knitting is like sex. If I love you enough, it’s free. And if I don’t love you enough, you can’t pay me enough And I was like, whoa,
Kat: mind blown. And I’m like, well, I mean, I’m not quite that like cut and dry about it, but that was pretty damn good I thought.
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Kat: I’m so excited about all the things and which is part of why, why not Fibers is called, why not fibers? Cause I’m always like, sure, why not? And my friends and my family, when I was trying to come up with a name, they’re like, oh, KAT, you have to call it this because it what you always say.
Tina: Right, right. Huh. What could go wrong?
Kat: So, so many things, but some of those things that go wrong, I actually have a colorway called and then something went terribly wrong and it is another color that every once in a while breaks in a way that I don’t anticipate. So, uh, for those who have not done any dying, the dye powders will sometimes dissolve perfectly and do everything they’re supposed to do.
And sometimes they’ll interact in weird ways and just like break into other base colors that they’re made up of and that is the color that I called. And then something went terribly wrong because when it comes out right, it’s this fabulous fatina green that’s got like that little bit of warmth to it.
Like, hmm, you know, when it doesn’t, it’s all streaky and has bright greens over here, a little bit of red and orange over there. And I’m like, that’s really cool. That was absolutely not what I was trying to do, And now I get to redye it.
Tina: I have a question for you about dying. I’m drawn to just solid fibers. I like solid colors and for the most part, all my clothing is solid as well.
Like, I like, you know, funky earrings that are not solid, but when I’m wearing clothing because then I can mix and match in this different way Anyway, I’ve never really drawn to variegated, yarns and I’m not really drawn to hand dyed yarns that are so popular right now that are like piece, I don’t know what it’s called though.
Is it variegated? They’re all different colors. Like they’ve dyed them in a, in some kind of a va I’m guessing, and they’ve dye ’em individually to get this hand dyed look. But it’s not salad, it’s multicolored. Are you also drawn to solids?
I am. I find them very minimal. And the thing is that there are certain patterns that I will knit in Variated yards.
I very rarely die variegated yards, uh, every once in a while because I can’t help myself. I do, but there’s a very, usually a very specific thing in mind for it. I have one called Nutz Commander, which that’s got a whole connotation now, but it’s this great, like teal and gold and silver. It’s really pretty.
They play really nice and part of it for me is, The color, repeat how it works. Okay. If I’m doing, uh, a variated, I’m not usually doing a half and half of a skein, but if you look at a skein, any of yarn that looks like, kind of like a circle, I don’t do just half and then half, because for me, that ends up pooling weird, which pooling is when you were knitting or crocheting or weaving, and the color pools together in a certain way.
And I kind of like to break things up a little bit because I want it to not, uh, every once in a while there’s a skein that I’m like, I love that. I don’t know if it’ll look like clown barf or if it’ll look like, like, and I, there are ones that I love that I thought would look like that, and then I knit them up and I’m like, oh, okay.
I can get behind this. But I am mostly a tonal dier. I am mostly a tonal knitter. Um, I do some color work. Usually it’s tonal yarns together. But , I like to do that layering. I definitely have a. A particular, uh, set of color hues that I end up wearing. I am, I love green, all the greens, but I definitely tend towards the warmer tones.
So you’re not gonna see me in a ton of blue green as much as I love it, and I do love it. What I feel confident is, is in your moss greens, in your chartruese, in your mauve, you know, those really great kinda like life to play together colors, and I pretty much can put together your fall maple tree walking down the sidewalk.
Like that’s, that’s kind of me in a nutshell. Not to say that I don’t break out and do other things every so often, but. I do tend to have fewer patterned things in my clothes. , I do definitely go towards tonals.
I do find them more knittable for myself. I will pair them with other ones because I sometimes like that pop with the speckle or with the variegated or with whatever. Selfs striping like that I find really fun. Now, the biggest thing for me with dying them is, or with not dying them, really, is that if I want that I have my favorite dyers and I go to them.
By their yarn because that’s what they do really freaking well. And I have the thing that I’m really good at, which is that rich saturation that’s got a deep like underbelly of earth tones and like, that’s like, just pulls me in. And that’s what I brought back to again and again with it.
And like, you know, there’s, along with that whole weird making thing, there’s also a weird like, oh, will you just die the yard?
And I’m like, oh, just right in the heart with that one. That’s my soul. I made this and I’m like, please love this as much as I do. And like, that’s kind of all of it. But then, you know, I’m also the, I wonder what would happen if I put this color with it,
Tina: I would consider myself a pretty beginner dyer, although I’ve done some work with natural dyes and I’ve done some work with porcine and dyes and things like that.
But anytime I have a dye vat going, it doesn’t matter if it’s onion skins or walnuts or magenta pink. I’m throwing everything possible things I never even wanted pink. I’m throwing into the dye, right? Because I’m like,
Kat: Oh, it’s the mania.
Tina: yeah, it’s crazy. Like, so the, all the little white socks are hiding under the couch and they’re like pulling their little toes in so I can’t find them cuz I’m like, there’s a white sock, I’m gonna die that Zach like, it’s
Kat: but it doesn’t have to be white. Imagine what would happen if you put something gray in there, or if you put something blue in there.
Kat: Yes. Layers. Oh no. Your poor wardrobe is just like shrinking into itself going, ah.
Tina: Oh that’s really fun. I know. And they all are trying to hide though cuz they’re like, nobody wants to, you know, somebody was like, I kind of liked being white and I’m like, I don’t have any light colored clothing whatsoever. One, cuz I’m drawn to jewel tones, but two, because they all get dye.
Kat: Well, it sometimes inadvertently because I’m, here I am with my coffee cup and I’m like, I’m wearing something that’s not gonna show coffee stains if I, if I spill on it, because I, I am the person that I am really spatially aware of everything else, but myself. Teris was like my favorite game growing up, and I do all the packing for all the trips.
My husband’s not allowed to put anything in the trailer. When I go to a show, he brings it to the trailer. My son and my daughter have both figured this out too. They bring this stuff to the trailer, to the car, I pack it. However, if I walk through four hours later, I’m like, huh.
Tina: Do you know how many times? So I have a very full rear end. I don’t know that we wanna talk about this in the podcast. We’ll see if this makes the cut, but I have a very full rear end. I’m sure it will.
Kat: Let us use the
Tina: Yes. And so I also am really great at puzzle solving spatial things. This is no surprise. But do you know how many times I like knock things off of tables?
my rear end? Cause I’m like, oh, I didn’t have enough room to go through there. How is that possible? So, you know, I get it.
Kat: I I, think my brain stopped and when I was about 12 thinking of where my, I was in space and I still, you know, I don’t think of myself as a grownup half the time where I’m like, gonna go play and I go play with the dive.
But yeah, spatial awareness is one of those weird things where for self, It doesn’t do as well.
But for everything else, I am that person that can look around a room in my head and tell somebody where I saw something last. I’m the finder of things in my family. My husband will call me and be like, I can’t find X, and I’ll be 500 miles away and I can tell them where I last thought. Yeah, I, it’s a very odd, and when I, the aha for me was realizing that not everybody’s brain was like that.
And I couldn’t just be like, look around the room in your head
Tina: I like.
Kat: that sounds stranger out loud than it does in my head because I don’t actually think about it as I’m gonna look around the room. In my head I’m just like, okay, picture of the living room. Charlie was on the couch on that side the last time I looked over there.
Charlie’s my dog. So this is also sometimes how colors are born because I will think it through
Kat: and I’ll think through, okay, this was this color when I put this on it and this was this color. When I put this on it, what if. What if we did this? So the, the colors and the saturation and the doing the things, I mean, I am, I am no in no way anti verigated. I’m not antis speckled. I just don’t do much of it because it’s not what pulls me. It’s not what light grabs me by the throat and won’t let go.
That is the earthy tonals that is the deep, uh, you know, like just seeping you colors. You know, it’s not, I do some lighter colors, but most of what you’re gonna see is really gonna be pretty deep, rich colors. I’m really drawn to the ones that I wear funny enough.
Tina: So let’s back up for a moment you said that you learned how to crochet when you were young, who taught you to crochet, and who has been your influence as far as being a maker and being an intrepid maker?
Kat: Oh boy. So my mom taught me to crochet because she crocheted. Mom and I, we baked, we made syrup, we gardened, we, um, sewed. I learned how to sew like Barbie clothes. And We’re not talking like your fashionista Barbie clothes.
No, no. Our girls, they had tents made out of, uh, I don’t know, sticks in the woods and clothes made out of leaves and they were dirty and like they had pine cone. Houses and things. But then we also made costumes because we played old fashioned, us feral children. We were always like dressing up with pinafores and learning how to make them and like heating water over a candle to make tea.
And, and by tea it was like, you know, whatever mint leaves we could find in the garden right then. So it was always kind of a part of the whole, it was like we just did the things and we, we were not an affluent family and so a lot of the things were by necessity.
And so hand-me-downs were thing making things was a thing.
Making food was just how it was. We bought flour, buy the 25 pound bag from the buying club. I also grew up in a household that didn’t have sugar. So there was honey, there was whole wheat flour, there was carob. And if mom hears this, sorry, but hot carob is not the same.
Kat: and I and my mom will laugh about that now she’s, she’s great, but it was just like, there were things that, it also taught me how to eat real food.
But then things like white pasta tasted like candy.
Kat: like that. And it wasn’t that whole wheat pasta tastes bad, it was just that, that it had like, well almost no taste . And then you added things to it and it was like, whoa, this is all the carbs. But anyway, we were making the things and we were canning the things, and we were freezing the things.
So all of the things, and you can imagine how that kind of builds up over time when there’s, you know, four kids and two adults and cats and dogs and da da da da da. So it was not always, you know, the smoothest, it was sometimes very chaotic. But we did things out of necessity. I wore my mom’s 1970 senior prom dress to my prom, and I say My prom, which was actually my distance boyfriend in Madison, Wisconsin.
I went and went to prom with him and Madison because I didn’t have a prom. I was in the class of my own so this is this, um, sea foam green dress with. Lace top if you, you know. Well, and I had the long sheer sleeves. With the cuffs. With the laces. Oh yeah. Well, we took those off because one of ’em was ripped.
So then we got the sleeveless lace top, then sheer with unders skirt and like, It was perfect. It was just perfect because it, the, the tone was right. It was fun. And I. Like at that point was definitely had a lot of girly girl and I have very long hair. And so my boyfriend’s mom was over the moon because his sister was not into it. She was not into doing any of the dress up things.
She didn’t wanna go to dances. And so she got this opportunity to help me curl my hair. And the shoes I brought actually broke, so she let me, a pair of shoes, like it was a really, it was just, it was a lovely darling time. And I mean, this is someone that who is actually still part of my life. Chris is a good friend and he’s married to one of my dearest friends.
Like, it was like two of my favorite people ended up together.
Kat: Yeah. So this’s we made over that dress. It worked great. And that was just thrift storing, that’s just what you did. You know, fixing things is just what you did or didn’t sometimes because it was like, oh, this needs to be fixed, and then the pile starts, right.
Tina: Yeah. And then eventually when it starts yelling too much, you’re like, you keep yelling and the whole lot of you are going in the trash. and then they do, and then you’re like, whew. Starting over.
Kat: It’s funny how like
that, that lack of stuff is freeing
Kat: the, um, going back to the before and after times. Actually, one of the most freeing times regarding stuff in my life was after we had our house fire and everything was just gone, basically, and all of our things were in a suitcase. , like the four of us, the clothes that we had were the suitcase.
I could wash ’em all in one load. And we’re talking like the first couple of weeks because we have a community and it’s a community that wants to make sure that you don’t go without anything. Even sometimes things you really don’t need. But there was this four foot Scooby-Doo stuffed animal, but that’s a whole nother Yeah, it was very kind and my kids thought it was hilarious and kind of terrifying.
Um, and just the heart behind it really, like the giving was so there, but I started getting anxious when I couldn’t fit everything in the suitcase or didn’t, wasn’t able to have everything of ours in the car. And so that was a, that was, you know, EA therapy, um, and being like, okay. So that was a control thing.
Tina: So I have been in three house fires in my life. I had the nickname, um, as a teenager of Tina The Torch. Yeah. One of them was inadvertently, well, I can’t believe I’m confessing this on this podcast started by me.
Kat: Oh, I’m
Tina: Yeah. So there’s a lot of actually drama around that. But my dad has such a good, um, I dunno, he’s such a good take on life really, of like, you know, this is life.
And then he started calling me Tina, the torch. And I was like, I guess I’m okay now. . But he is, we’re all right. Right.
Kat: Isn’t it weird that there was a click there?
Tina: Yeah. Like I, nobody hates me cuz this happened. I was 13 at the time and it was a candle incident and anyway, um,
Kat: oh God. 13. So hard on its own.
Tina: yeah, it is, and it just, it was rough and, and in hindsight I won’t get into all the details, but
um, I love to purge things. I love to get rid of things I get. Stressed if I have too many things.
And, and that’s my own definition of too many, cuz like, I’m not a minimalist per se, but I also, I have a threshold. Right. Of what’s too much. Too much. Like if it doesn’t fit in the suitcase.
Kat: I’m like kind of getting to there right now with my house and my crafting materials, which is kind of also a stab me in the heart kind of thing. But
Kat: anyway, go on.
Tina: Yes. And so I think that there’s something about losing everything in that way that allowed, for me, anyway, taught me to both hang on to really important things with a lot, have a lot of meaning. And also let go of it, right, because you, you don’t have any choice. That sock that you spent all that time on is now gone.
And it’s also, you know,
Kat: I did not want to knit the second
sock, and I felt so guilty about that. I was like, who’s gonna wear?
Tina: I know. And then it was just gonna sit there and stare at you and be like, I don’t have a partner and I’m supposed to have a partner. I totally get that. But at the same time, now all this hard work is gone as far as the actual physical thing of it. And I get that. And I think that there’s, um, it probably is a control thing on some level or just an ability to like, I think it was like this kind of zen thing too, right?
That you’re just, it’s okay, I only need what I need and it’s okay if things are sort of transient in my life, because honestly that’s the way of things anyway.
Kat: I mean, this is the only, uh, it, the only listen to me, the only house fire that I went through. It was, it was quite traumatic and it was, um,
it changed a lot of outlooks on things
Kat: and it took a lot of time because we’re. we’re coming up on 11 years since then, and it took a lot of time and a lot of therapy to like disassociate that feeling of responsibility for, um, for the living things in my life that we lost.
Kat: So everything else was just stuff.
Everything else was just stuff. There’s stuff that I am sad that I no longer have. There’s stuff that I still say, oh, I think I have, oh wait, no, that was in the fire. But the thing that took the most work was even.
to be able to talk about our pets, to be able to talk about things. And my kids will ask to see pictures of them because they were two and a half and five and a half.
So they were little. All of that work is not feeling responsible for them losing their lives.
Kat: that is huge. And you know, this might be pretty heavy, but it’s like it’s real. This is life. This is what happened. And sometimes death. And I am so glad that we got the time that we got with them. I’m so glad that we knew enough about ourselves to make sure that when we moved back into the house, cause we moved back into the house after they gutted it, it um, did not burn to the ground.
There was a flat roof on the house that the peak was put on top of that flat roof, kept it from burning down. Sometimes I kind of wish the whole thing had burned down because then we could have started fresh because there was that weird, there’s like a weird, uh, twilight zone.
Kat: I’m standing in my house, it looks completely different and I look out the front door and everything looks the same.
Three years of that, I said, I can’t live here anymore. And we moved. And I mean there’s a lot more to it than that, but like those pieces, when we moved back into the house, um, the following march, cuz it was in July and then it was March by the time we finally were able to move back in, we got a dog and we knew we were getting this dog.
This was a dog that, um, the owner. Passively looking for a new home for him because he was traveling so much and he had to travel because his girlfriend at the time was in the hospital downstate. And Charlie, our, our now very old man dog was living with this very old boxer that did not want to play and did not want to do anything.
And he was a young dog that all he wanted to do was play frisbee.
Kat: so we met Charlie. My husband fell utterly in love with him cuz, and my husband, he’s not a little dude. He’s like, I mean I’m short and he’s not as short, but he’s like got the big red beard, broad shoulders. He’s definitely your lumber jet kind of dude.
And, but he is like, turns into a go gooey mess when it comes to animals. And so Charlie, we left and he was like, I really want that dog I want that dog in our house. But we weren’t moving yet. We weren’t moving for several weeks. So, we talked with the owner of the dog. The caretaker of the dog, I owners feels so weird because that feels like a thing rather than a living thing.
And he was the type of person who was like, I love this dog and this is not fair. This is not fair. And so Charlie came to live with us when we moved back into the house, and I was still working as a medical transcriptionist at the time, so I was home all the time. So Charlie bonded with me, which was never an issue.
That was not a thing with Steve because he loves everybody almost as much as his Frisbee.
It was this thing where we knew that we needed to have pets, that we needed to have animals living with us because that was gonna be the biggest healing thing for us, was to take that leap and love this being that was not going to live nearly as long as us no matter what happens and do it anyway.
Kat: So, and that we got cats because that was, that was a thing, is we’d always had kitties and my son lost his first cat, and so we have, we still have the cats. It was a thing that we moved through and it was really hard and it couldn’t have even either broke us or built us. And in our case it built us and it kind of like you come through the fire together, ha ha ha.
And you find a place and you either find it together or alone. And in our case, it just got tighter and tighter and tighter. Um, when we moved here in 2016, we went from 903 square feet for four people, two cats and a dog. and which we had no idea. We were on top of each other. Our kids were on the verge of puberty, like all those things, and suddenly we’re in this really big like 2,500 square foot house with three bedrooms, three bathrooms.
Like we didn’t have one bathroom anymore. That was huge.
And it’s actually been a really good thing, like part of me was afraid that moving into this big space would just become, I mean, not that it’s not full of stuff, it is full of stuff, but that it would just become a hoarding situation or something like that.
What it has done is it’s given us the opportunity to have parallel play without being up in each other’s business.
Tina: I can relate to that. I am very much drawn to small spaces and I do wonder, um, eventually my little boy and I will move into something larger cause we’re in 400 square feet right now. But, I have some probably unfounded fear that moving someplace larger would mean that we won’t be as close.
But I will bet you that that’s probably not the truth, it’s just that we’ll have a little more breathing room.
Kat: and that’s really important, especially with the, the puberty teen, like having some controlled privacy, if you will, controlled sounds so rigid, having some privacy for them.
So the three fires that I was in, they were all in the same house.
And finally the third time the house burned all the way to the ground. So apparently the house wanted to burn, right?
Kat: it was.
Tina: it was done right. There is a loss and I wanted to acknowledge that and I wanted to acknowledge that, like the thank you for the story that you shared with us and sharing how that made you closer knit and sharing the process of grieving that, especially when there is a loss of life in that fire.
Is there anything else that you do in your life other than this passion, which is just like palatable that you have for color and dying yarn and your business like that?
It’s just so beautiful to see. Do you make in other ways and do you, or do you have other things that you do sort of on the daily basis that bring vibrancy to your life?
Kat: Oh man. Now that’s a loaded question because as I mentioned when I was growing up, that has kind of come forward into where I’m at now. I garden like a fiend. Um, I actually have lettuce growing in the basement in our utility room right now. That will be like next month will be our dinner lettuce.
Tina: And just to let people know, we are recording this podcast in March in northern Michigan.
Kat: And this is the second year I have done the lettuce farm is what might we have started calling it where I start seeds so I can have something green, have the light, and then something fresh and green to eat.
And it was like my Prozac last January, February, it was what got me through. And so I started doing that again this year. I have a big out outdoor garden. Um, I love to cook. I love to cook. I love to make pasta from scratch. I love to make sauce to go with that pasta from scratch. I freeze tomatoes so I can then cut them up, slide off the skins, chop ’em up, cook ’em down, add a bunch of onions, add a bunch of garlic.
You know, you’ve got your olive oil base, you’ve got your butter base. Anyway, clearly another rabbit hole. I love to cook. I love to sew. Um, I have done haphazard garments most of my life. Less haphazard garments in the last like five, 10 years. Um, oh, more than that 15. I started making wrap skirts years ago and I would wear those.
Now I tend to make more tunic style. Um, I have a favorite dress that is linen cotton blend that has buckets and it is just the dress number one from a hundred x of sewing super easy.
Kat: So, um, and I also can.
I make jam, I actually, I used to joke that I do pretty much everything but macrame, and then I made some plant hangers out of macrame, so I can’t say that anymore.
I embroider, I crochet, I weave, I needle felt, I wet felt I pretty much, if it’s a tactile thing, thing,
I kind of wanna be Laura Ingals, but in this century. .
Tina: I can relate to that completely. The question that I like to ask all of my guests is, what do you wish people knew that you think that they might not know? Deep in their hearts.
Kat: The thing I try to tell myself and I tell my friends is that you’re enough. You’re enough. And what you’re doing is beautiful and there’s no just, you are not just anything. You are something. What you’re making is real. It’s not just dinner. It is a tittalating taste, bud experience, it is something that you have done with your own hands.
And that can be throwing pasta out of a box into a pan that can be taking sheets out of the dryer and putting item on a bed. This is a radical act of loving, like everything we do is from us taking a step forward, making a song. I , I’m a musician. There’s another whole nother rabbit hole.
Really just that, and like I struggle with this and talk to yourself at least as kindly as you would, someone you don’t like, oiur internal voices can be toxic. They can just be cruel and they’re full of shit
And it’s really hard sometimes because we see all the bits and pieces and those bits and pieces are part of you too, and that they’re necessary. So
Tina: Thank you Kat.
Kat: thanks for having me. No, I’m gonna cry again.
Tina: I have thoroughly enjoyed this. If folks would like to find you online, how can they do that? Where they, where can they find you if they wanna find out more about you?
Kat: I have a website, uh, it’s whyknotfibers.com and that’s w H Y k N o t f i b e r s.com. It’s the same on Instagram, it’s the same on Facebook. If you’re curious about the, very briefly touched upon music aspect, um, Kat Eldred Sings is on Instagram and there’s just a little bit on there.
I don’t have a ton of following cause I haven’t done a ton of outward facing stuff on that. Um, I have things that vary shops in Michigan, outside of Michigan. I travel for fiber festivals. I’ll be, well this will probably be before June. I’ll be tip of the fiber fair. I’m gonna be vending there. I love doing that one.
Tina: Thank you again. It’s really been a pleasure and I, um, I love your energy. I love all the work that you’re doing in the world. I love that you’re leading with passion because you talked about just as little side here. Um, you talked about how your business just happened and your dying life just happened, and I think that’s exactly where the magic is in life, and I am so grateful to talk to somebody who followed that little spark, so
that’s it for our show today. I am so glad you were here. Talking with Kat was a rollicking good time for me, and I hope that you also had a great time listening while you were moving about your day. I like to think that you were out there needle felting or crocheting or throwing a piece of clay on your potter’s wheel or.
Making a bench outta wood. I don’t know. Whatever it is you dream of doing, I hope you are doing that while you listen to the podcast. But I’ll tell you the truth, like if you were simply driving your kids to school and you’re listening to the podcast then, or taking a walk around the treadmill, I’d be happy with that too because honestly, I am so grateful you’re here listening and if you’re anything like me, podcasts often come into my life when I’ve got some time in the car, most.
Or I sometimes use them as a little reward. Like okay, if you go for a hike, then you can listen to your favorite podcast cuz you don’t get to until then. Right. It’s a little incentive for me. Um, you may not need that in your life, but that helps me to really pair up two things that I actually enjoy doing, but I sometimes don’t make the time to and I get to pair them and it’s like this sweet little two.
Anyway, I digress. If you like this show where you jump on your favorite podcast, listening app and subscribe to the show. And while you’re at it, you leave me a review.
Right? Have the best.
Today’s podcast was sponsored by Brooks Ann Camper. You can find out all about Brooks Ann’s online courses, where she teaches you how to create sewing patterns for your own body, but not just create them. Dream about them, design them, draft the pattern, sew them up, and have a community while. You can find out all about her skirt skills course, which is the beginning course that you’ll need to take with her at brooksann.com.
That’s B R O O K S A N n.com. You can also read about her custom bridal sewing journey and her journey as a maker. She’s got an amazing story and it’s very fun to read, and she does a great job documenting it. So check out her blog and jump on her newsletter while you