Meet Cara Corey, a former writer who turned her life long-passion for crafting into a full time gig. Cara specializes in making oversized knitting and crochet projects and teaching classes and workshops on the topic. Read on to learn more about our maker feature!
Introduce us to you.
I’m Cara from Cara Corey Designs. I grew up in Lawrence, Kansas and went to school in Iowa. Eventually my husband and I moved to the Bay Area, where we lived for almost 9 years, had two kids and traveled the west coast. He recently got a job near family in Minneapolis, so we moved
back to the Midwest. So far we are loving it!
How did you get your start as a maker and what do you make?
I started my career as a writer for newspapers and magazines. Eventually, there were a lot of layoffs and furloughs at my newspaper, and I started thinking about pursuing my artistic side. I had learned to knit from a group of friends (and all the Stitch ‘n Bitch books) back in 2004 and absolutely loved it. I was writing a lot of stories about craft fairs and people starting creative businesses and eventually I realized I didn’t want to write about it, I wanted to do it. So I quit my job in 2009. I actually started out selling little recycled crafts and candles but when I added knit items that sold much better, so I switched.
Now I make all kinds of chunky knit and crocheted items and I teach classes with fun beginner projects. My most popular class has been a giant knit blanket class with merino wool roving.
Have you always had a creative side or did someone help you find it?
I have been crafting my whole life. I can remember making friendship bracelets and latch hook rugs and all kinds of things as a kid. My mom was always making some kind of home decor or sewing. We were all inspired by my grandmother, who was incredible at cross-stitch and sewing. Interestingly, no one was a knitter until me.
Have you turned your passion for creating into your day job?
Yes. When we moved to California, I decided I had to pick between writing and knitting and I chose knitting. At that time, Etsy was my main source of income, along with craft fairs. After I had my kids, I transitioned into teaching more and found I really love it.
Do trends help guide what you’re creating? And if so, how do you identify them?
Absolutely. I spend a lot of time on Pinterest and Instagram, seeing what other makers are doing. A lot of knitting trends start in other countries, so I also search Etsy for materials and I will end up going down a rabbit hole of trends. Students in my classes will ask for other classes and suggest new ideas. I want to teach what they want to learn.
What trends are you seeing pop-up right now?
Stuffed tube yarn is the fun new material I’m working with a lot. It’s similar in size to wool roving but doesn’t shed, so it’s great for poufs and weighted blankets. I’m glad blankets are still popular. Having just moved to Minnesota, I know they will always be needed!
Who (or what) gets you excited about the work you do?
I always feel so energized after teaching a class. Students, especially those that are new to knitting, are so eager to learn. Often they aren’t sure they can do it. And then they leave class with this finished item, feeling very proud. That makes all the hard work worth it.
What’s one piece of advice you’d share with other makers?
Don’t put all your eggs in one basket, especially if you want to do this gig full time. It is HARD work and there are no set hours. There are a lot of ups and downs in sales and class enrollments. You have to be able to support yourself with a lot of different income sources. And sometimes you have to let go of something that isn’t working to pursue something that is. Find a friend or a group of friends who you can share advice with and hash out business questions.
What goal(s) are you working toward?
Since I have moved, I kind of have to restart my business. So my main goal is to find new places to teach. I would love to teach at some of the amazing folk schools around the state. I want to get some more patterns up on my website so students have more projects to make after classes end. And one day I would love to write a book.
What’s your creative mantra and why?
Run your own race. You can spend so much time comparing yourself to others and feeling like you aren’t doing enough. But at the end of the day you have to be proud of what you’ve created and focus on your own unique talents.
What’s on your studio playlist?
Maggie Rogers Fallingwater on repeat.
When you’re not creating what are you up to?
We are about to start renovating a 1915 house, so that should be all-consuming the next few months. Being DIY people is a blessing and a curse! I have also been traveling a lot with my husband, Mike, and our kids, Harper and Max. It’s nice to finally be able to see family and friends without taking a long flight. We love trying new restaurants, so it’s cool to have two new cities to explore.
Makers make the crafting world go ‘round. Are you a maker who wants to be featured on Darice? Send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org – we’re looking forward to meeting you!
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