Knitting to Success

Knitting became Karen Lane’s strategy to confronting seasonal depression. Karen is currently a 2nd year industrial design transfer student running a small business, called Ephemeral Purpose, where she sells hats along with other knit goods.

Her Virginia Tech journey began with working towards majoring in studio art. Despite always working on creative projects, Karen’s art career took a turn as she realized that she wanted to focus on creating for other people as an industrial designer. Both knitting and throwing clay have helped keep her motivated and passionate through their repetitive processes of building by layering.

Karen started with simple scarves and pillows, as they are made as two dimensional objects, and began creating her own three dimensional custom knitting. Knitting soon turned expensive as Karen carefully selects sustainable, ethical material as well as dedicates 6-10 hours for each hat she makes. She feels that her business is simply a means to keep her working and thinking, and she makes no profit as the process is time intensive and materials are expensive. Karen’s biggest challenge is pricing. She hopes to differentiate her pieces from the fast fashion market, defining them as somewhere between artwork and manufacturable objects.

Through her Virginia Tech education, she hopes to blur the definitions of “artist” and “industrial designer”. Hats can be made with machines, but through her handmade process, the results are custom for each wearer. Contrary to most businesses, Karen hopes growth doesn’t mean making more hats but instead, exploring more intricate pieces as well as exploring other applications for her knitting.