Hello 🙂 My name is Kate Slaughter, I have decided to create this webpage to share my knowledge and love of creative textiles with you. Over the last few years I have moved in many different directions however textiles has always been my foundation. I would like to introduce myself and tell you a little bit about how I have got here and why I am now writing a blog.
Kates Kloths was established many years ago in my kitchen, here is a little insight how this journey in the life of creative textiles began.
My love for textiles began at a very early age when I could occupy myself for hours with some scrap fabrics creating outfits and accessories for my dolls. I developed my skills as a teenager and made the majority of my clothes through a process of trial and error. I can specifically remember one of my favourite outfits was a bright pink jumpsuit, I would like to point out that this was the height of fashion in the eighties. I knew exactly what I wanted this jumpsuit to look like however I was unable to find the colour I wanted however I was determined not to give up. I found one of my mams white cotton sheets in the airing cupboard, this was the perfect fabric, I used this to make the jumpsuit. The only dilemma I had then was the colour so I dyed the finished garment; dyeing was to become another one of my passions later in life.
I went on to study a degree with Textiles and whilst I was at polytechnic my now mother in law bought me a Kate Greenaway cross stitch book – everyone in my family received gifts embroidered with old fashioned girls and boys. After graduating I became a dressmaker for a few years – this has only intensified my hatred for altering garments, I would rather start from scratch. After my children were born I went to a ‘sewing’ night class and this rekindled my enthusiasm so much so that I began teaching my own night class. I loved teaching these adult recreational classes and I began experimenting with many different textiles. Whilst at a craft fair I purchased a dye kit as I wanted to use a wide range of different yarns and fabrics within my work and I could not find the colours I had in mind therefore, as I had when I was a teenager. I decided that I was going to dye my own.
The Kates Kloths journey began one afternoon in my kitchen. I have always loved wild flowers and therefore this was the starting point for my colours.
I am not the tidiest person in the world but creative minds are rarely tidy and therefore that afternoon I had dye and yarn everywhere as I played and experimented. I wanted to create fabrics and threads that were shaded, I also wanted to work with a range of textures that would make my embroidery more interesting. The results were fabulous and I used these in my classes and my students loved them. With their enthusiasm over the product and my supportive family I began dyeing yarns and fabrics to sell.
In autumn 1999 I worked my first exhibition. I had a stand at the Knitting and Stitching Show in Harrogate. This was terrifying as it was a costly way to determine if people liked my products enough to buy them.
My philosophy when I started this business was to enable people to use beautiful products at an affordable price – why do people feel that you have to spend a lot of money for something to be good? That is just a question that I have asked myself over and over again – If I have over priced my products would people have thought they were better? I did not want people to buy my threads and fabrics and to feel that they were too expensive to use and then they end up in the bottom of a sewing basket for many many years as they are too precious to use. I wanted people to buy my threads and use them and enjoy them. Sorry I went off on a tangent a little bit there, as Alison Moyet once said ‘when you have a creative mind it doesn’t stop going’.
Anyway back to Harrogate – It was fantastic, my products were successful and all of this from a kitchen sink! My family were getting a bit fed up though – apparently having to wait for your dinner because the sink is being used for rinsing thread or the benches are piled high with dye baths is not acceptable by most families. I was starting to get fed up of having to disinfect every surface and clean up after each dyeing session and there were some dye products that I wanted to experiment with but these were not really suitable for the kitchen. In the beginning of 2000 my family and I were visiting a childrens farm which had a number of craft units, one workshop unit was available for lease. It was perfect, a small shop area and workshop facilities that would enable me to dye my threads and fabrics and also teach workshops.
Kates Kloths flourished from the farm and I attended exhibitions in England, Scotland and Ireland (here is a photograph of me and my mother taken at one of my first exhibitions).
My husbands aunt had taken early retirement and she happily accompanied me on these trips. I delivered many talks and workshops from the farm unit and at different Embroiderers Guilds and Womens Institute meetings.
In 2002 I moved Kates Kloths to a shop unit in a town centre, this made my business more accessible by bus route
and the premises enabled me to expand the retail side of my business into other crafts and it had a room for classes and plenty of space for the dyeing. The creative element of Kates Kloths continued to flourish in new premises and I
wrote a couple of projects for magazines, continued to attend exhibitions around the country and workshops were extremely popular. The bigger the business became the more I realised that my passion lay with the creative embroidery and teaching, I made the decision to change my direction in life and in 2006 I returned to university to complete my teacher training for secondary schools – in my madness I continued to run my business just in case things didn’t work out! I must take this opportunity to thank three women in my life who have supported me throughout this journey, my mam Dorothy, Aunty Jean and my mother in law Sandra – they are all creative women and will continue to inspire and support me. Within my blog I would love to continue my creative textiles teaching and share with you ideas, projects and, with a bit of luck, some inspiration.
In September 2007 I made a career change, I became a Textiles Technology teacher working in the largest secondary school in my area. Eight years later I am now Head of Technology department and teach children aged 11-18. My favourite part of this job is when you teach a child a new technique or concept, they may take time to learn and fully understand the process however the second they achieve an end result they realise that they are capable of designing and creating new artefacts and are keen to learn more. This feeling of pride is irreplaceable. If children are not taught the creative process then they will never experience the ability to imagine, explore, experiment, reflect and create. Within my blog I would like to share with you some of my pupils creative moments like this one here.
Well thank you if you are still reading. I have played with textiles all of my life and I am still playing, experimenting and learning from my mistakes. I would love you to join me on this exciting new journey I am about to take in the world of blogging.