KOEL Kid: Kate Swett

There are times when even doing the things we love may not turn out to be the best path for us to take. During Kate Swett’s lowest point in life, it was letting go of her job as a baker and cake decorator and turning to weaving that helped her boost a healthier and happier state of mind. It’s not easy giving up on your dream career, especially when its’s right in your grasp, but Kate teaches us that putting yourself first is the most important step to self-recovery (and self-discovery!). Find out how she did it through the interview we had with her…

1. Tell us more about your background and what led you to choosing weaving as a craft?
I discovered weaving at a time when I REALLY needed it. I had just quit my job as a baker and a cake decorator, which had been my dream career for most of my life. Getting to go to work and bake every day made me super happy, but the stress level and hours of the job took a major toll on my mental health. After quitting in an attempt to get out of my slump, I realized not having anything to do with my hands all day was not going to help. I was an anxious mess with way too much free time.

That’s when I started playing with fiber! I started out with embroidery, which I fell in love with for quite a while. It forced my brain to slow down when it was constantly racing. Still, my hands craved something where I could be more abstract with my shapes and textures. After stumbling on Maryanne Moody’s book in a local shop, I knew I need to get my hands on a loom and some yarn. I’ve been weaving every single day since!

2. What makes you a KOEL Kid?
I think my work is pretty weird looking, but that’s what I love about it. I’m pretty dang honored to be part of the KOEL Kids with many of my favorite fiber artists!

3. Share with us the creative process behind each of your projects.
I like to start getting inspiration for a piece by doodling – especially with gouache paint! I’m terrible at sketching out my ideas, but gouache lets me create the soft shapes and colors that I love to weave. A lot of my shape and color inspiration comes from looking at plants + ceramics, as well as mid-century modern interior design.

4. Pick one of your favourite designs and answer these quick questions:

The inspiration behind this design is… Variegated plants and speckled pottery – the best combination.

The dream store in which I would like to stock this design is… Woonwinkel, my favorite home decor store in Portland.

Which celebrity house can you picture your design… This piece belongs in Abby’s apartment in Broad City! That, or whoever has the most cats for me to pet.

If this design made it big, I would… I would probably buy all the yarn and one more cat.

If this design could talk, it would say… Take a nap on me!

5. Great things take time, so how much has changed since you first started weaving and where do you see it in the next five years?
I only started weaving a little over a year ago, so my work hasn’t changed that much. However, the confidence in my weaving practice has grown so much! It took awhile for me to really value my work and my creative process but I’m happy with where I’m at so far.

That being said, there is SO much I want to learn still. Fiber art and weaving is my favorite medium because there is nothing you can’t create. I do often dream about owning a big old floor loom and making rugs or other big stuff, but that will take lots more learning and time. Until then, I have no plans to stop weaving! I like being able to look back at a piece I’ve made and reminisce about the feelings I was having and the things I was up to when I made it. Slow art, like weaving, will always be an important part of my life.

Photo Credits: Kate Swett

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