About

Knitting AvatarMy name is Kate and I’m a semi-professional knitting pattern writer and needlework designer who also happens to have a Ph.D. in nineteenth-century British literature.

After receiving my degree several years ago, and facing a job market that was grim even before our current economic downturn, I got a job as a pattern writer working for a well-known knitting designer here in Los Angeles. We worked on four books altogether and I eventually wrote over a hundred knitting patterns for her boutique and her line of specialty yarns. She decided to focus on the high-fashion side of her business and I was left with a lot of fond memories as well as a hard-won set of pattern-writing skills and knitting knowledge that I was eager to expand upon.

Working with this designer inspired me to start designing my own knits and to rededicate myself to all the handcrafts I enjoy so much, especially needlework and quilting (I’m just a beginner quilter so be patient). Please check out my Etsy shop, Moon & Sixpence Knits, for some colorful knitted accessories and patterns. I have also launched my own fledgling (extremely fledgling) needlework design company, Wordsmith Designs, which also has an Etsy shop. My needlework designs draw their inspiration from literary sources and many are based on the aesthetics of the nineteenth-century Arts and Crafts movement.

However, that certainly doesn’t mean my tastes are stuck in the nineteenth century! I hope that cross stitch and other needlework will soon experience the same kind of popular and stylistic renaissance currently enjoyed by knitting. Needlework can also be sophisticated and current, and, for the sake of this craft we love so well, we should all work together to bring it (kicking and screaming, if necessary) into the 21st century. I strive to create and design for intelligent, modern stitchers of all ages and both sexes.

I continue to be inspired by both crafts equally, as well as by crochet, sewing, needlepoint, beading, and just about any paper, fabric or fiber craft you can think of. In particular, I love projects that combine two or more of these different crafts.

About the Name of this Blog

The name of this blog, “The Lyf So Short,” comes from the first lines of Geoffrey Chaucer’s poem “The Parlement of Foules”:

The lyf so short, the craft so longe to lerne
Th’assay so hard, so sharp the conquerynge,
The dredful joye, alwey that slit so yerne,
All this mene I by love…

The first part — “The lyf so short, the craft so long to lerne”– reminds us all that although life is short, refining our craft is an endless process, but that means we’ll never run out of something new to discover. I used to get a little depressed thinking about all the unfinished projects I’d never get around to, but now I think that’s infinitely preferable to the opposite, running out of projects before I run out of time.

On the other hand, the second line — “Th’assay so hard, so sharp the conquerynge” — reminds me that mastering that next knitting technique or finishing that next seemingly endless stitching project only comes through hard-won effort. And the “dredful joye” of conquering our craft is as sharp and slight as that of love itself. [Apologies for the stuffy discussion of poetry — I get carried away sometimes]

The Craftsman title pageThe first line of the poem was also, famously, the motto of The Craftsman, the journal of the British Arts and Crafts movement of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. I’ve long admired the Arts and Crafts aesthetic which embraced and celebrated handmade objects in the face of an increasingly industrial world. I also figured this was a good name for a stitching blog since we all seem to have more stash than we could ever handle, and there always seems to be “just one more technique” on the horizon to master.

Happy Stitching to all of you! I look forward to hearing from you.

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