Digging Deeper with Verena Cohrs

We are bringing back our Digging Deeper series to introduce you to some of the contributors in our upcoming issue REST.  We hope you enjoy this behind the scenes look at how some of the pieces came to be, and the stories behind these inspiring makers, doers, and dreamers.

Find Verena's piece "Hometown Cardigan" in the HANDS section of Issue 24 :: REST.

We are thrilled to be including your pattern for the gorgeous and cozy-looking Hometown Cardigan in REST.  How did you first develop an interest in knitting and what inspires your various designs? 

First of all thanks so much for having me! I couldn’t be more thrilled to contribute a design to this wonderful magazine of yours that combines so many of my passions.

Knitting has been a part of my life ever since my mum taught me the basics when I was a little child, and in one way or another (you know, the teenage years!), I have always identified as a maker and knitter.

Reflecting on the inspiration behind my knitwear designs and the core reason why I make, I found the deep desire to work towards a more sustainable, fair and eco-friendly way of living and making within me. With the designs I create, I aim to enable and inspire knitters to make pieces that are minimalist and versatile enough to be loved and worn for a long, long time, and to showcase sustainably, ethically made yarns. For me, a new design usually starts with the idea of the feel I’m looking for (cosy and wearable, for this cardigan!) and the yarn. From there it evolves into stitch patterns and construction details.

You founded your own knitwear design company, The Wool Club. Tell us a little bit about your company and what you’ve discovered running your own business. 

From the moment I first fell in love with knitting, it felt like something that would bring a lot of joy into my life, and this ultimately led to founding my own knitwear design company and quitting my job in educational research a little later. A decision that has made me happy every day ever since! That isn’t to say that there are no challenges – running my own business is the wildest adventure I’ve embarked on so far, but I truly am beyond grateful for everything I was able to learn, discover, do and make since founding The Wool Club.

Sustainability in all aspects of life is something I care about deeply, and with my own company, I aim to contribute to a more sustainable way of working, making and living. This past year and a half, I primarily focussed on knitwear designs for handknitters, and it’s an aspect of my work I absolutely love and want to continue doing in the future. Over the past couple of weeks and months, I’ve been thinking a lot about where I want to take my business, and I also really enjoy working on content that relates to more aspects of sustainable living and making, such as natural materials for the home or incorporating handmade and fair fashion pieces into an everyday wardrobe.

You take particular care in finding materials to work with that are sustainably and ethically made -- something we think is so important! How do you go about finding the sorts of companies and products that meet these standards? 

The freedom (and responsibility!) of choosing the companies and materials I work with is one of the things I enjoy most about this self-employed life of mine. Treating everyone around us and the world we live in with respect and future generations in mind plays a huge role in it, and I couldn't be more grateful for the opportunity to incorporate this core value into my everyday work.

From my experience, finding companies that offer sustainably, ethically made products has become a lot easier with more and more people growing an interest in the story of the things they buy, which I think is wonderful. I’m curious by nature, and whenever I’m interested in a product but can’t find the information I’m looking for on a company’s website, I reach out and ask about their production processes. A general rule of thumb that has proven to be very helpful for me is that if information is neither available nor made available on request, there’s usually a reason for it. And of course social media is a great source when it comes to finding new things! Instagram is probably my favourite place to stumble upon new-to-me companies, and it makes finding out more about them very easy.

What projects do you have in the works?  What’s next for you that you’re particularly excited about? 

Is "all the things“ an appropriate answer? Honestly though, there are quite a few projects in the making that I can’t wait to continue working on! Looking at the big picture, I’d say I’m particularly excited about focussing on a more holistic view on sustainability.

Probably the largest one of my current projects is a book – while I can’t share all the details just yet, what I can say is that it’s another step towards marrying knitwear design with other sustainability related content (think travelling & fair fashion!). As for knitting patterns, I have a few exciting magazine and yarn company collaborations as well as individual designs coming up, and there are also a couple of non knitting related projects in the works.

 As you know, the theme for this issue is REST.  How do you find moments and ways to pause and pace yourself in work and life? We’d love to know what the idea of “rest” conjures up for you. 

This issues’s theme particularly spoke to me, as incorporating little moments of rest into my everyday life is something I have been thinking about and working on a lot lately. I constantly have to remind myself to take little breaks during the day, week and year – seeing how important and beneficial they are, no matter how much I love what I do, is definitely a forever learning for me. My favourite things to do to pause are walks, having a cup of hot tea while listening to a podcast or some music, and meditating, and spending a bit of time by the sea every once in a while when I get to take a longer break. While I’m not all the way there yet (are we ever, even?), I really enjoy everything I’m learning on this journey to a more mindful way of working and living, and I can’t wait to read more about rest and what it means to others in the upcoming issue of Taproot Magazine.

you can find more from Verena at the-wool-club.com