It is with great pleasure that tonight I’m interviewing my long time friend, Kat, and chatting to her about her new venture Katsock Crafts! Hi Kat and welcome!
Hi, I’m Kat, and I make jewellery and knit baby clothes under ‘Katsock Crafts’. The name comes from truncating and amalgamating my first and maiden names. And no-one else has put it together with ‘Crafts’.
What made you start up your business?
I’ve been knitting since before I was a teenager, my mother taught me much of what I know, and I’ve always knitted things for myself, off and on as the mood takes me. I most enjoy making baby clothes as they offer quick results and can look absolutely adorable. But it means waiting for people to get pregnant! I knitted an Aran sweater for a colleague’s little girl and my boss said: you could have another career. Turns out my husband was having similar thoughts… and between them, they persuaded me to give it a go. Not that I took much persuading!
When choosing stock/styles/colours for both your knitted articles and your custom jewellery, do you go by popular styles, customer requests, fashion trends or bits of all those?
For the knitted items, as I’ve been knitting for some time, I had quite a few half-balls of yarn over, so so far it’s been a case of choosing which colours would go well together and whether I’ve got enough of each to make whatever item I’m planning. My stock of wool oddments is beginning to dwindle now however and I will soon be stocking up on yarn. I plan to pick up all the staple baby colour regulars (pastel shades of pink, blue, green and some white), but also some colours you wouldn’t necessarily associate with baby clothes, like rich blues, purples, reds, etc. Maybe even black! That Aran sweater for instance, is mainly a lovely dusky pink but is also bordered with some beautiful yarn in multi-coloured autumnal colours. And, I take a similar approach with the jewellery. I pick up some standard beads whose colours I can mix and match, and then see what other interesting beads or charms I can find to mix them up with. For beads, yarn and patterns, unless it’s a stock item, I much prefer visiting a shop and actually getting a feel for the size and colour of the items I’m buying. There’s nothing like actually holding something in your hand to give you an idea of what it’ll be possible to do with it. I think you’ll agree I’m not one to necessarily follow the latest trend; I mostly make what pleases me and I’d be happy wearing (at least as far as jewellery is concerned!), and hope that others agree. So far: so good!
What’s the most unusual or strange item you’ve made (either knitted or jewellery)?
Ooh, good question! Not recently, but way back when I first started knitting full-size sweaters for myself, the first one I made was a bit of a disaster. It wasn’t completely unwearable, but the tension was all out on each panel and none of the different stitches for the borders or other areas matched up, when it was stitched together. It could also have been a little longer! The next item I knitted was much more successful and I hope I’ve continued to improve since then!
To date, what has been your most popular item ordered from your repertoire?
Well it’s early days yet so difficult to pin down a most popular, but at the first craft fair, one style of necklace got a lot of attention. On my last visit to the Brighton Bead Shop, I picked up some really fun ceramic bunny rabbits and bought two each of black and blue. Unfortunately, one of them lost an ear by the time I came to make them into jewellery. So, I strung them on a silver chain and, to give them some extra interest, added a bell. I was so pleased to find that visitors to my stall thought them really cute, too. We also hung a newborn’s red waistcoat at the front of the stand, as it’s one of my favourites too, and it was the item most remarked upon by all who saw it. I can just see a cheeky little newborn boy in that, teamed with a pair of black trousers and a long-sleeved white t-shirt (or shirt), visiting his grandparents on Christmas Day!
Out of your knitted items, has any item been a bit of a challenge?
Aran knits tend to be some of the most challenging, as the weight and purpose lend themselves to some really intricate knots and twists. The most challenging I’ve ever attempted was an adult cardigan, in a gorgeous delicate lavender, which was all pattern from the start of a row to the end, and any mistakes were really obvious, so also a challenge to unpick and redo. It took me months to complete and a good deal of swearing, but looked very impressive once complete. The most challenging baby knit is one I’m working on now! I’ve found a delightful pattern for a skirt but for some reason I just can’t ‘get’ the pattern. Absolutely no reason why I shouldn’t be able to do it, so the hassle it’s giving me is really frustrating. I’m determined to make it work though…
Out of all the items you’ve made, knitted or jewellery, what has been your favourite?
Of all the knitted pieces, it’s difficult to pin down an absolute favourite, I think they’re all adorable. But I do think the waistcoat I mentioned will take some beating. From the jewellery, I’ve picked up some gorgeous Murano glass twirls in a purple and a red, which I can’t wait to get working with (unfortunately I haven’t had the right findings yet to put them together). I’ve made some really light and airy Edwardian-esque earrings with filigree hearts, which are gorgeous: I think they’d look amazing with an up-do to show them off, on a special occasion. I’ve a similar line of earrings, but with bells and flowers instead. Not sure how long it would take before they got really annoying to wear, but they look quite funky!
You’re a bit of a newbie when it comes to working at craft fairs – what have you enjoyed most about working at a craft fair?
I am indeed, my second one tomorrow in fact (9th Nov). My first one was about a month previous and while it was quite a local affair, so sales were minimal, it was a really enjoyable experience. I met some lovely people, who were very willing to talk and give advice; they gave me some positive feedback about my products and stall; and one or two people were even good enough to part with their hard-won cash to buy something that I’d made! It’s a great feeling and a huge compliment, especially when people have less in their pockets these days.
What advice would you give to people who want to work and display their products at craft fairs?
Make sure you have a good quality product that’s well made. Even the lowest priced items are a waste of money if they fall apart.
Do your homework. Join at least one crafting or craft fair website (I’m on UK Craft Fairs, but Esty has also been recommended to me). Spend time making sure that your entry is updated regularly (a site that offers a blogging option is an excellent way to do this) and that you use the site’s facilities fully.
Don’t expect to make a million. Especially at your first fair. I set myself objectives for my first one, and making any money at all was there, but it was at the bottom of the pile. First and foremost was to enjoy it, then meeting new people doing the same things as me and hopefully to learn something from them. I wanted absolutely not to look like the newbie, but to have a professional-looking and well thought out stall (again, homework is key here). Lastly, I knew I’d be disappointed unless I made at least one sale, and thankfully I think I met all objectives including the last one.
Pricing is a difficult one. Be confident and firm but don’t be afraid to adjust if you think you’ve made an error. People will not pay for something if they don’t think it’s worth what you’re asking – but don’t undervalue yourself either. It’s a delicate balance, and not one that will necessarily come right first time.
I’m sure there’s loads more I could say, but those are the ones that immediately come to me.
What knitted items would you like to attempt but haven’t as yet attempted? What about jewellery?
Ever since I started knitting, there’s one particular technique I’ve always shied away from. A month or so ago, something just clicked in my head (it was a real light-bulb moment!) and I finally just knew how it was done. I finished my first baby knit with this technique last week and I’m really pleased with it. For the earrings, I have an idea I’m kicking around right now and I’ve made one attempt that was unfortunately not really successful. But I haven’t given up; I’ll give it a bit more thought and another go. Eventually, it’ll work for me.
Personal now – what outfits and shoes would you normally be found wearing?
Ooh another good question! I tend to favour dresses these days, not too short but definitely above the knee. Almost always, except on the hottest of summer days, with a pair of 40d tights and on the coldest days, a pair of black leggings. Never, ever, on pain of being struck down, leggings without tights. Because they’re not totally opaque and in my opinion, will make you look like slightly simple trailer trash. Day job, with a lovely pair of Mary Jane-style heels (not less than 3”). I have three pairs under my desk! Day to day, usually DMs and a slightly more revealing dress (to show off at least one of three tattoos. Or, as I call it, ‘twins and pins’). I have two pairs of DMs and love them both utterly: a blue tartan and a mottled lavender. I crave another pair but my practical head has so far managed to over-rule my impulsive heart. One day, my heart will catch my head napping.
Do you have any favourite shops or online sites?
Though I shop there now very rarely, I could still never be far from Karen Millen. And I never go out without my Monsoon loyalty card (not a storecard, it’s more like the Boots card or Nectar). One other shop I absolutely adore is Ness, (www.ness.co.uk ), Scottish fashion brand (I liken it to a less-well known Cath Kidston). Lots of lovely tartan !
What’s next on your clothes/shoe wish list?
Ooh, almost anything from Ness. But I’ve also seen some lovely Carvella boots, wedge heel, about 4”, knee high, fit like a glove and look and feel stunning. But Santa will have to be very good to me…
Boots or Shoes?
Boots are just all round more sexy, aren’t they? Though I do like a shoe with a shallow platform sole. The higher the platform, just makes the foot look like a hoof when walking…
Links you would like to share e.g. website/facebook etc so that readers can find out more about Katsock Crafts
Sure: I’d be delighted if people wanted to look for me on Facebook at Katsock Crafts, or on UK Craft Fairs at:
Thank you Kat for chatting with us and I wish you continued success with your venture!
Photo credits: Photos have been published with kind permission from Kat Sparshott