Katharine’s studio window faces the street. It’s an eclectic street. A brewery and taproom, two mechanic shops (one that specializes in restoring old Mini-Coopers), a banked-track roller derby rink, some artist studios, a galvanizer, and a dive bar. The crowd on the street is always changing, but Katharine is a consistent presence. It’s a common site to see her at one of her many sewing machines or cutting fabric or ironing. Her business, Telaio*, features hand-built wool cycling clothing and her work is thoughtful, practical, and beautiful.
As we spent a few afternoons with Katharine, both in her studio and out and about, catching her clothes in action, we came to appreciate both her brilliant design and thoughtful approach.
Part of my grandmother’s resourcefulness and practical homemaking agenda included making clothes for everyone in her family. My dad picked up his sewing skills from her—legend has it he sewed his own pajamas at age four—and passed them on to me.
“Mass clothing production still requires humans manipulating fabric and controlling machinery at almost every stage. It’s not fully automated—skilled hands are still driving the process. Unfortunately most of those skilled workers are grossly underpaid. I hope that my hand-built clothing brings more awareness to clothing in general: the process, the politics, the end product.”
When I make a piece of clothing for someone, I am thinking about how it is going to serve them, practically and aesthetically. I like the idea of people having fewer clothes and getting more value and use out of the clothes they do wear.
When you ride a bicycle… you not only see the hills, but feel them in your legs and your lungs as you climb them… and your experience takes on an integrated quality: time, distance, movement, gravity, effort, exertion, perception, sensory input and purpose are all linked.