Maker Spotlight: Little Black Sheep Studio

For this weeks Maker Spotlight we spoke with Kate Koconis, a talented fiber artist and owner of Little Black Sheep Studio. She lives and works out of her home studio in Providence Forge, Virginia, where she creates one-of-a-kind woven wall hangings, blankets, and other decor.
We will be hosting Kate's work for the month of November, including a selection of her weavings and home decor in the shop. In addition, Kate will be leading a Beginners Weaving Workshop on Saturday, November 10th at Lineage, where class participants will learn the basics of weaving on a loom and create a wall hanging of their own. You can sign up for her workshop here.
In anticipation for Kate's workshop, we asked her to answer some questions about her journey into the fiber arts and starting a creative business.

When did you first start weaving and did you know you wanted to make a business out of it?

I had always been aware of weaving, growing up with my mother's rug loom as my fort of choice and being surrounded by her tapestries decorating our walls. I didn’t officially learn how to weave though until I attended Maryland Institute College of Art, and have been weaving ever since, for about 12 years. I was initially drawn to the craft because of my exposure to it from an early age and once I learned the specifics, I was hooked. I knew weaving would be something I’d be exploring for the rest of my life. I had always toyed with the idea of selling my weavings but hadn’t seriously thought about turning it into a business until about 5 years ago, when my husband and I bought our first house. Along with the new house came a designated studio space for me and my loom, and Little Black Sheep Studio grew from there.  


Where does the inspiration for your
pieces come from?

My inspiration is a combination of the things around me that bring me joy and the endless possibilities of exploring the craft of weaving itself. It could be the easy color of a flower, the mood of a sunrise, the calm of a beach day, or the cozy feeling of a puppy snuggle that gives me the spark to create something. I’ll also find inspiration in the craft itself. While working on a piece I’ll find I want to explore the pattern further and add or subtract something to see what the result would be. Or I’ll want to see what the pattern is like if I use a different material. I rarely make the same thing twice, I’m driven by moving forward and finding new things to try out within the craft. The possibilities that weaving provides are endless, and I don’t think I’ll be running out of things to make any time soon.  


What is one lesson you've learned from
owning a small business?

I didn’t expect there to be so much behind the scenes that goes into making a small business work, especially computer related and correspondence work. Keeping a calendar and keeping it up to date is an absolute must. There are so many little things to keep track of it’s impossible to just keep it all in your head, especially when you’re just one person doing it all. Deadlines, dates of shows, workshop dates, scheduling, custom orders, shipping, ordering materials, replying to emails...etc. Without having a system to keep track of everything, they easily get lost in the shuffle of life. Plus it saves me from constantly going over my to-do list in my head, talk about a stress inducer. There’s nothing like physically putting a big check mark through completed things on a piece of paper.  

What is one of your most challenging 
pieces, and why?

I love doing custom pieces, but they are always the most challenging for me. I worry whether decisions I’m making while working on a piece will meet the client's expectations. Things like size, color scheme, and the general style of the weaving are decided on to begin with. Using those decisions as a general guideline, I start weaving and a lot of the designing then happens as I go. When to switch colors, where and how to place wooly pieces, when to change patterns etc. I have a general idea of what a piece will look like, but because of all those little decisions I make as I’m weaving, I never really know what it’ll look like until it comes off the loom. Which is both very exciting and a little nerve-racking. 

We are so excited to have you teach at Lineage in November. Can you tell us a little bit more about what people can expect out of your workshop?

Expect to have a good time, learn, relax and leave with a weaving and a new skill under your belt. I’ll show you the basic techniques you’ll need to know in order to make woven wall hangings. I’ll go over what all the tools are, how to set up your loom, how to weave and add in extra wooly bits, and how to finish a piece to be hung up. We’ll get the creative juices flowing and in the 3 hours of the workshop participants will start and finish a mini wall hanging of their own creation. I love weaving and especially love being able to share it and all it has to offer with others. It’s going to be an awesome afternoon full of creating, fun, and chatting all things crafty.   

Kate and her work are incredibly inspiring. If you are interested in fiber arts but are unable to make it to Kate's workshop, we will be selling Kate's DIY Beginners Weaving Kits in our Brick and Mortar shop during the month of November.

Stop by our shop starting Friday, November 2nd to browse Kate's work, and sign up for her workshop. It will be a great time!   


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