who am i anyway?

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My name is Rachel, and this is my blog. More than just my blog – this is where I will document my musings, inspirations, progress, projects, portfolio, and, someday, an online shop! I am new to all of this, so what better way than to take you along for the ride?

rachel elizabeth carleton
Iced green tea latte!

This, as you may have guessed, is me. Knitting enthusiast, cat lady (at a ripe young age), and a lot of other assorted things. If you had asked me 14 years ago, when my mom first taught me to knit, if I’d see myself doing this for a living I would have said no way.

My first few knitting experiences were frustrating, as I surmise they are for most people. I didn’t know how to hold the needles, I recall I was probably knitting with horrible acrylic black yarn, and the whole thing was so tight it was painful to pretend to knit it anyway. I would give it a few hours (okay, minutes) before getting frustrated, then I would throw it down and give up.

A few months later, I’d want to try again, would have forgotten completely how to do it, be taught again, and the whole process would repeat about ten more times.

Until finally, by some stroke of luck, I remembered how to do it for good.

I knit a decent amount in high school once I had figured some things out, mostly mittens and scarves and basic stitches. I tried a sweater once, but never wore it. I mostly fantasized about patterns I would some day create for myself. Knitting was very much a “hobby” for me at this point.

Until college. Here I started knitting more seriously – but still, even after deciding upon studying fashion design, never thought of as a career. Which is silly, when I look back – knitting is a very important part of the fashion industry. Someone has to design the sweaters! But it just never occurred to me, somehow.

It wasn’t until I was having my first big-deal, real-life New York unpaid experience when I started figuring things out. I didn’t have a lot of disposable income, so I spent most evenings inside, trying to think of fun things to do – knitting was a natural fit. I would pop down to a local knitting shop in Park Slope, indulge in some yarn, and spend hours trying to create patterns for the first time (so a lot of trial and error). I wasn’t very good at this, at all. But, it was fun. The patterns were rudimentary at best, and never actually got anywhere (or became finished items). In the fall I returned to school to learn tailoring, and the following quarter we would have our one and only machine knitting course. This, I was finding, I was excited for.

To make a seemingly endless story short, my first escapades into machine knitting were a big deal to me. It was as if (cliche coming) my whole world made sense suddenly – this is what I was meant to do! How could I have never seen this coming before? I could create an entire career around knitting, professionally – for retail or runway, whatever struck my fancy. I quickly bought a knitting machine, and as soon as our class was over, bought every book I could get my hands on so I could learn everything there was to learn before embarking on my graduate collection. Which, of course, was all knitwear.

My knitting machine and my desk
My weapon of choice in my apartment office: a KH-830 & KR840.

While I do not have a knitwear degree (one is not offered this where I went to school), my determination to master the art of machine knitting combined with my experience designing knitwear for a mass retail brand (which I still do, by the way) has allowed me to expand my knowledge of the knitwear industry beyond where I ever thought I could. I feel so inspired every day to wake up and use this knowledge at work and to be as creative as I possibly can … which is why I want to be right here, right now, creating more.

Want to come along for the ride as I figure all this out? Follow me! I am more than excited to get started sharing my ideas and working on something I love in my free time. This will be a very exploratory process, but that’s what makes it fun. Stay tuned!