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About Karen Tiede

Karen TiedeI’m an artist, currently working in recycled fiber.  I was a chainsaw carver for a while, and will be again when I can find a place to work where the noise doesn’t bother the neighbors. I knit, and weave, and paint, and write.  I teach social media at NCSU’s continuing education division, and run social media campaigns for local businesses. 

My partner and I feed seven dogs and three cats between us, commuting between Goldsboro and rural NC south of Raleigh.  He’s a professional clown, and I’m also a professional hula hooper.  We have interesting weekends.

Hoops at a gig.

Early Work

I have a Bachelor’s degree in Chemistry and Russian; we lived in Moscow from 1971-74 and it wasn’t too hard to pick up the second major.  (Dad was the Assistant Naval Attaché for the Marine Corps; our maid at the time was a KGB agent.  Nixon visited halfway through our stay.)

I worked in a lot of different positions, including what we now call fracking chemistry.  This part of my life is well-documented in Linkedin.  Eventually, I settled at EDS, and took advantage of the steady work to develop my artistic skills.

I’ve been knitting as long as I can remember.  My mother taught me; my father never wore store-bought socks.  I knit socks in high school, and sweaters in grad school in MA, and then moved south to NC. 

I knit lots of lovely wool sweaters:  three Fassetts, one elaborate Aran; a tablecloth in crochet cotton that used six miles of thread.  I knit shawls.  The dog ate one.  I gave up on wool clothing in central NC, where the climate only requires wool three months out of the year.

Knitted Rugs

I first saw the idea of knitting VERY bulky fiber in AlterKnits, where Leigh Radford cut up bright pink t-shirts and knitted a little bathmat. In Mason Dixon Knitting, Kay Gardiner and Ann Meador Shayne showed some knitted rugs and made mention of knitting quilts. They didn’t take the idea much past oversized log cabin squares, which a quick experiment proved were not for me. I don’t like all that casting on and picking up. I’d rather sew parts together.

Finally, Deborah New’s Unexpected Knitting provided the push to get over the top. I tried knitting her 7-row jacket out of recycled fiber and couldn’t manage 100 stitches on a needle at the same time. I changed needles and approach, using fewer stitches and long stripes quickly turned to quilt blocks, and the next thing I knew, I was playing with log cabin settings.

Knitted rugs are made from 100% post-consumer upcycled fabric (used clothing) which is washed, machine-dried, sliced to ribbons and wound into balls. The rugs can be machine washed in cold water and tumble-dried.

Storey Publishing found me through Pinterest.  Together, we created my latest book, Knitting Fabric Rugs.  Some of the rugs shown in that book are now offered for sale.  Here are some of my images of the on-site and studio photography that helped to create the book.

I traded a belt-driven Singer sewing machine for a 1959 Newcomb Studio Rug loom and have it in the dining room, with 300 yards of warp.  Some of the rugs from this loom are available in the store.  I will gave rugs made from recycled ties soon.

What’s Happening Now

I reached my goal of knitting 100 rugs.  There will be more rugs in the future.  For the time being, it’s fun to get back to smaller needles and lace and stockinette stitch for a while.  I finished two Knit Swirl coats. 

I discovered Shopify, and created this store to make my art available online.  After I opened the store, I discovered print-on-demand textiles, and created the additional products like dog beds and washable rugs. 

Today, I'm working on the #LoveIsLove shawl, a fund-raiser for the families of victims of the shooting at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, FL. Follow along on the Blog.

The printable download "Take What You Need" freebie-for-your-email is the first item in an as-yet-undefined line of products that will probably cover a space not fully addressed by most greeting card companies.

In 2014, I had an ugly encounter with a cardiologist. I changed my life and lost 50 pounds, in part due to daily hula hooping.  I have training on Skillshare about altering clothing during serious weight loss.  (As a friend says, “you textile people are so frugal!”)  On one hand, clothing alterations have nothing to do with art, and OTOH, they have everything to do with the art of adaptive reuse, recycling, and making do. 

My partner bought a motorcycle at the start of the year and we're learning to travel around the state.  We went on the Foxtail Customer Appreciation Ride, in Independence VA, with 106 bikes.  I’ll go anywhere if I can knit.

Knitting while we wait for Kickstands Up!

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