When you visit Ingebretsen’s and see the SKHR knitting patterns in our needlework store or read the posters for upcoming classes, you see Kate Running’s signature design style: crisp, bright, high contrast, and with a contemporary Nordic touch. Her knitting classes at Ingebretsen’s are popular because her teaching style parallels her visual art – Kate will teach you what you need to know, help you as you need help, then step back and give you the “white space” to make the information your own.
SKHR is Kate’s own line of knitting patterns. The name comes from her mother’s full initials, Sarah Kristine Holleque Running. It’s a tribute to the influence of her grandmother, Esther Holleque, and her mother, the two women who started Kate knitting. Kate says, “My grandmother, Esther Holleque, taught me to knit when I was in middle school. We lived in Pennsylvania, and she was in Fargo. I was always making things in some craft form or another, so upon one of my grandmother’s upcoming visits, my mom asked if I wanted to learn how to knit. I actually wasn’t that excited about it, but it was an activity I could do with my grandma, so I obliged.” (Note to grandmothers: Never underestimate your influence and your ability to ensure the continuation of a hand craft.)
Kate learned the basics with her grandmother, working with a ball of cotton yarn from a big box store. When her grandmother returned to Fargo, Kate set down her knitting needles. After a year, however, she decided to give knitting another go. “I had to buy a “how to knit” book when I wanted to try it again, and I’ve been knitting ever since! I was very proud to show her my knitting the following year when we went to visit her. She mostly critiqued my technique, but I’m sure she was proud too,” says Kate.
Kate’s family showed their support of her knitting in the best way possible – by wearing her creations. “I would make lots of fancy scarves for my mom, which she proudly wore. I also made a hat for my dad once, which was too small and looked really funny, but he still wore it with joy,” Kate says. She adds, “I’ve since gifted him many properly sized knits.”
Kate’s early knitting projects were her own creations, because patterns “looked very foreign” to her. She read knitting magazines and books, kept years’ worth of notebooks filled with ideas, and tried to learn on her own by dissecting what she saw in other’s knitted garments. It wasn’t until the advent of Instagram that Kate saw that there was a huge community of knitters also trying to learn what she was teaching herself. In 2015, she went from selling her knitted items to creating original patterns.
Kate set the goal of creating patterns with clear instructions, photos, and realistic needle size. Kate had studied graphic design at Concordia College in Moorhead, Minnesota, where her grandfather Cyrus Running had helped establish the art department. She had been working in the field for several years and had become an expert in using InDesign, her preferred program for creating patterns. It was time to bring her varied skills together for her first pattern, the Arne mitten. There’s a familial influence here, too. Arne was an uncle of Kate’s who had a pair of warm mittens with a most clearly inspirational Selbu star.
Making a pattern is far more time consuming than knitting an item. However, Kate has found it gratifying. She firmly believes that knitting should be fun and she wants to alleviate, as much as possible, the frustration that comes from confusing instructions. She has had people tell her they’re really pleased with how easy the patterns are to read and how happy they with their finished result, feedback that makes the time invested feel worthwhile.
Designers usually have a favorite yarn and Kate’s no exception. “I really love all of Rauma’s yarns. They knit in colorwork beautifully and I can tell it’s really high quality,” she says. “It took me a long time to finally come to this with my cotton and acrylic beginning, but I’m a huge fan of wool. Wool is durable, has natural UV protection, has antimicrobial and antibacterial properties, is stain and water resistant, is easy to care for, and helps regulate your temperature, to name a few benefits! I enjoy knitting with it, as the fibers will stick together a little as you’re knitting, and finished projects will maintain their shape. In the past few years I’ve become more conscious about where the yarn comes from, its quality, and its sustainability.”
Considering Kate’s appreciation of wool, it only makes sense when asked if she had a grant to travel and study knitting and textiles, where would she go, she answered, “ I would be thrilled to see a sheep farm, and wool production facility.” She would also take advantage of this hypothetical grants by going to Norway and Peru. “ I’ve never been to Norway, so I would have to go there. Most of my heritage is Norwegian, and that’s the style of color-work knitting I’ve been most influenced by. I’d love to learn more about traditional Norwegian knitting, and what they’re doing now. I’m also interested in Peru, to see more alpacas and the fiber arts culture there,” she says.
Kate currently has five patterns available, with more to come. Her Norwegian mitten class at Ingebretsen’s fills regularly and she also teaches beginning knitting. Her next project, inspired by some suggestions and a bit of nudging by her colleagues, is a felted bag in which to ripen avocados. Simply because avocados are a subtropical fruit doesn’t mean they can’t be ripened in knit bags with Nordic designs. Once the pattern is complete, a class will follow. So please check our class schedule if you’d like to join Kate for this class or any of the others that she teaches. And if it’s an easy-to-understand pattern you need, we’ve got those, too.