Taproot Contributor :: Carrie Bostick Hoge

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Continuing with our Taproot Interview Series, we'd like to introduce you to Carrie Bostick Hoge. Carrie is a photographer, knitter and designer. She lives in Maine with her husband, daughter and animals and dreams of living on a small farm someday where she’ll be surrounded by much more flora and fauna. She works and creates for Madder out of her backyard studio.You can find more of her work at www.maddermade.com     Meredith: Carrie, you studied at Parsons School of Design for Photography and began your career as a photographer.  When did knitting and photography professionally merge for you?   Carrie: Knitting and photography merged after I met Pam Allen! We met in 2006, through the small Portland grape-vine—little did I know that meeting her would change my creative focus towards knitting and that I would end up working with her for several years. At that point I was a hobby knitter and a day-dreamer knitwear designer, with a little unread blog. My relationship with photography was confusing—I didn't feel like a fine art photographer, nor was I driven to do commercial work. I saw photography as a wonderful tool for documenting my work and progress in my studio, my travels local and abroad, and my everyday life with family and friends.   I started another blog, more focused on knitting, called Swatch Diaries and worked on a self-published book called Away/Japan. Pam was a big supporter of my photography and when she changed jobs to Classic Elite Yarns she brought me on board and tapped into those skills—among other duties, I photographed the weekly web-letter and a few pattern booklets.   In January of 2010, we started working on Quince & Co. And in May of that year, I photographed the premier collection, now called Prima. I spent the following 3 years discovering I have a passion for photographing beautiful knitted things. I'm so happy and grateful that Pam found me.     Meredith: Are design ideas typically born from necessity? Something designed for your daughter Imogen came from the seasonal needs of a baby? Where do you find your inspiration?   CBH: Design ideas often come from a combination of yarn and a particular stitch I'm interested in. So, usually, I'll swatch away and think about what kind of fabric the pair make and what type of garment or accessory is appropriate. And sometimes I know I need to use a certain yarn to make a sweater. In which case, I make a swatch to see what kind of fabric the yarn makes—is it drapey or sturdy? Once some of those questions are answered, I begin to think about a desirable silhouette. I get a lot of my inspiration from being outside in nature and from my own thoughts on comfort and simplicity—and I can't help but confess to my Pinterest addiction.     Meredith: Balancing motherhood with a creative life and work can be challenging. Does this balance exist? Can you share how you juggle the two? What does a typical creative day look like for you?   CBH: Balance is tricky, as I have learned recently. At the end of last year, I made the tough-yet-easy choice to leave Quince & Co. to be home more for my daughter. Some weeks are little crazy and unstructured if I have photography jobs going on (like right now!), because the days are long and the prep work is both time consuming and mind consuming. If I'm not working on a photo gig, then my creative days are usually Tuesday through Thursday while she is at a pre-school for half a day. It's not much time, though. Often, I'll be knee-deep in writing a knitting pattern and—that's it—my work day is over. So, my work time often spills into early mornings before Imogen wakes up or while she naps. I am very lucky to have my mom around a lot so sometimes she takes Immie for a few hours at time so I can be productive.   Balance is definitely something I'm struggling with—how to get done what I want or need to get done, while still being present and available for my family?! For me the key is knowing my limitations so I don't take on too much or expect too much from myself. But it's so hard to say no sometimes...and so hard to keep the creative ideas reined in when you really have the drive (and not the time) to see them through. I wish I had more wisdom to offer on this subject.     Meredith: How long does it take you to complete a pattern from design inception, to modification to presentation to the public?   CBH: A long time! I'm not sure how long exactly since I keep wanting to design collections, not just one single piece—which would be a lot easier! But, a couple months at least. There is a lot of work to be done before I am ready to even write the pattern. There's swatching and sitting with the idea for a while to make sure the design is worth the time and energy to follow through. I am very indecisive so this part can often be arduous. Then, there's the pattern writing and proofing. And, if the design is going to a sample knitter then there's extra time put into proofing the instructions and sometimes there's a thoughtful back and forth with the knitter. After the sample is ready, then I wear it around—am I happy with the fit? Does anything need to be modified? When the pattern and sample are where I want them to be, then the pattern gets tech edited and graded, which can often take several weeks (or months) depending on their work load. I feel fortunate that I can photograph the garment and design the pattern layout rather quickly on my own. This is actually the part I like best. I love seeing the finished results—it makes all the work seem worthwhile.     Meredith:  What's in your knitting basket today? Do you find your knitting changes with the seasons?   CBH: Oh, my knitting basket(s)! Right now I am working on a shawl in Plucky Knitter yarn and a blanket in Osprey. I don't like to have too many projects going at once, otherwise I find things don't get finished. I also have a basket full of yarns balled up because I need to swatch them for upcoming designs.   New England is a colorful place and changes so dramatically from one season to the next, it's easy to become affected by that. In Fall, I definitely want my rusty browns. But, spring comes and I'm drawn to paler shades, lighter weight yarns, and more open stitch patterns. Though, I must admit, right now I'm not able to knit to my fancy since I have some work-knitting to take care of...which is fun, too.     Thanks so much for your time and insight, Carrie, it's great to get a peek into your knitting world. We can't wait to see your newest creations in the pages of Taproot!   ~meredith