Nora Meets the Maker: Michelle Carter
by Kollabora Follow

posted 7 years ago

Michelle Carter gives us serious knit envy, in the best way possible! Every time we see one of her beautiful new projects go up on the site, we immediately want to grab our needles and start knitting. From introducing us to amazing new patterns to inspiring us to try new stitches and techniques - Michelle is one truly inspring maker.

And we're equally as in awe of her stunning photography as we are of her black belt status! 

My name is Michelle Carter, but you may know me as My So-Called Handmade Life and my DIY weapons of choice are definitely knitting needles, yarn, and a camera to prove it.

When I am looking for inspiration I draw from what I’m reading, listening to, or watching on tv. Sometimes I make things because they make me nostalgic for another time in my life.

After a long day of making things I like to make things! I’m a homemaker and care for my older relatives much of my day, so my evenings are all about knitting the thing that was in the back of my mind through the day’s activities.

I got started making when I was little. I would draw, write silly stories, and pretend constantly. I got through the boredom of lower elementary by pretending my school was a spaceship all day long. The knitting began about eleven years ago when I saw an Anthropologie sweater that was too pricey for me. I thought, “Certainly, I can make one of these myself.” Eventually, I did.

When I think about starting a new project I cruise Pinterest, flip through old magazines pages I’ve collected, and search yarn shops. I look for patterns, modifications, and color ideas to match what I envision.

If I wasn’t a homemaker I would love to be a professional musician.

The song that can cheer me out of any bad mood is Whipped Cream by Herb Alpert’s Tijuana Brass

My favorite word is improv because I love spontaneous creativity and I do a lot of silly improv around the house.

My least favorite word is jelly, as in jealous. It’s cheesy.

I most relate to either the oldest person in the room or the youngest, maybe because they tend to be more direct, and I like that. So it’s a toss

My favorite artists at the moment are Andy Denzler, Samantha French, Tommy Oshima, and Andrea Jenkins (of hulaseventy). As far as knitwear designers go, I looked at whose designs I’ve knit the most. Isabell Kraemer keeps designing my new favorite sweater. I love all of Allyson Dykhuizen’s designs and those she curates for Holla Knits. She’s always up to something interesting. Katie Canavan convinced me to knit shorts and to sew, which is no small feat. Then, there’s always Jane Richmond.

My favorite thing about making is when I am doing it purely for the joy of creating something I like. It is both my escape and therapy, so I enjoy it completely. If I screw up, no one will be disappointed. There are no deadlines, no rules. It is a pleasure from start to finish.

To me, DIY means personalizing the things around you. I have memories attached to everything I make, whether it’s a sweater, my daughter’s senior photos, or a garden design. In the same way, those things hold a bit of my personality, to some extent. It makes de-­‐cluttering difficult.

The first thing I ever knit was a handbag. I just knit a long rectangle, folded it, seamed the sides at an angle, then attached wooden handles.

Three words that describe me could be intense, honest, and oddball.

Three words that describe my work could be varied, joyful, and retreat.

The only creative advice I can remember receiving is my mother quoting the old adage: “If it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing well.” Maybe that’s why I rip knits back, muttering the same adage under my breath, and re-­‐knit until it looks the way I want it to.

One fact about me that’s embarrassingly awesome is that I’m a black belt and can heel kick a person in the head while standing next to them.

My DIY secret weapons are books, records, podcasts, copious amounts of television, and sitting in my backyard to let my mind wander as I do the straightforward knitting.

The biggest DIY mistake I ever made was not reading directions carefully. I’m still doing this, regularly.

My next project is a vintagey fair isle sweater, Sothern, designed by Rohn Strong. After that, I have a couple of sweater designs I’d like to knit and write out. We’ll see... 

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