Nora Meets the Maker: Kristi from SweetKM
by Kollabora Follow

posted 3 years ago

My name is Kristi, but you may know me as SweetKM, and my DIY weapons of choice are knitting needles, and a sewing machine. I design a small line of children’s knitting patterns, and blog about knitting and sewing at SweetKM.

Inspiration finds me more often than I go looking for it. I garden a lot, and the repetitive physical activity seems to free up whatever part of my brain allows the ideas to flow. I often race into the house to make notes and sketches. Not all of them are winners, but it’s an invigorating way to brainstorm. I also like to flip through my Instagram feed. I often draw inspiration from whatever my camera has been focused on recently. 

I do most of my making at night when my kids are sleeping. After a day hanging out at the park, or playing, I unwind by sewing or knitting until I can’t keep my eyes open.

Like many in this creative community, I have always been surrounded by makers, and therefore have always been one myself. My mother made nurturing our creativity a priority. I sewed my first outfit with her when I was 8, and4 made a bust of Nefertiti with her when I was 14. She never laughed, just helped us get what we needed to do the job.

My creativity is driven by the completely free minds of my children. Their curiosity is so basic, and hard not to indulge. Finding answers to their questions, the tools to flesh out their ideas, and giving them the creative space to make crazy contraptions keeps my ideas fresh. Much of what I make if for them.

When I think about starting a new project I make useless spreadsheets, waffle and wring my hands with indecision until I just can’t stand another second of my own inability to decide. Then I buy the first thing I see. Then I return it. I know myself well enough now to let the process unfold. I never get anything right the first time. The best course of action is to get the bad first attempt out of the way.

The best part about running my own business is the freedom to make what I want, and work around my family’s schedule. 

I started my business when my kids were very small. I was in need of a creative outlet, and making pairs well with caring for children who also like to keep their hands busy with yarn and fabric. 

I am always thrilled when I see a thoughtfully done version of one of my knitting patterns or sewing tutorials. I think of my designs as a starting point, not a rigid end result, and try to provide basic instructions with a lot of potential for customization.

My advice to anyone looking to start their own business is to jump right in. The creative community has a very big tent with room for many different ideas, styles, and points of view. 

The most important thing I’ve learned from starting my own business is to under promise and over preform. Okay, I already knew that, but it’s so true.

If I wasn’t a maker/mom I would be an architect. My education and work experience is as an architect, which is basically pattern making at a much bigger scale. Having the freedom to quickly design, construct, and document knitting and sewing projects has rekindled my love of the design process which was suffering in the computer-centric work-a-day architecture world. Good design is the same at any scale.

The second my eyes open in the morning I drink coffee, and check Instagram. I love to see what other markers around the world have been working on before I jump into my day.

My favorite book is Pride and Prejudice. I have read my broken down paperback copy cover to cover too many times to count. When I’m in the dumps a few familiar words send my mind in a different direction. 

If I find myself in a creative rut and a project doesn’t inspire me I usually ditch the idea and move on. My time for making is too short to force something that I won’t find fulfilling in the end. I have a notebook full of ideas. If one isn’t resonating with me at the moment, I move on to the next project

To me, DIY means complete control over the details. I practice a very subtle brand of individuality. My goal is not to stand out, but not to blend in either. I want to reflect some of the values of the inner me in my outward appearance. Making my own clothing allows me to be true to myself. No branding. No big price tag. 

One of my first adult sewing projects was a corduroy pencil skirt and button down shirt, both made from vintage patterns. 

My husband is the most influential person in my life. He bought me my first sewing machine (a used beast of a 1970’s Singer) when we first started dating. It came with a fold out table, and everything about it was perfect. I don’t sew with it anymore, but it is still one of my most cherished possessions

My favorite thing to do on the weekend is to sew when it’s daylight!  Or garden. Or bike with my family. Or cook something that takes all day.

I can’t get enough Hammond’s chocolate caramel, or Robert Kaufman chambray.

Three words that describe my work: Simple. Casual. Blue.

Best creative advice I ever received: If it’s not your best it isn’t finished.  

I never leave the house without my unruled composition book, pen, and #2 pencil. I often leave the house without my wallet, keys, and phone, luckily never all at the same time.

If I could live anywhere, I would still live right here. My city is perfectly walkable, the country isn’t that far away, the food is diverse and delicious. Everyone should be so lucky as to live in Philadelphia. 

My DIY secret weapon is a pencil. When sewing marking tools let me down (which is often) I just use a pencil. 

My next project is a complete outfit, mixing knit and sewn pieces of my own design. There I’ve said it, now to get to work!

Discussion 1

  • Elise commented 3 years ago

    I just moved to Philly area ( 1 yr ago, Kennett Square)!  I am enjoying discovering the city.  Have tried to get down to fabric row, unfortunately the weekend I pick was Yom Kippur and most stores were closed!!  Would love to hear of some good creative spots to hit.  I have been to Loop and HIdden River Yarns.  Still looking for a great sewing shop.

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