Art & Entertainment, Culture, Feature Story

Warmth Detroit’s Katie Boyce Talks Sustainable Fashion and Worldwide Knit in Public Day

Speech Pathologist Katie Boyce has lived in Pleasant Ridge, Michigan with her husband for three years now. She keeps a very busy schedule and often works long hours. To help her find relaxation from her career, she started knitting.

“Right now, it’s truly therapeutic for me,” Katie explained to me during our phone conversation. “I’m a speech pathologist at my day job and I work with kids with Autism. It’s an emotional job. I come home exhausted every single day. It’s nice to be able to shut my brain off and do something that is repetitive.”

Katie first learned how to knit from her late grandmother. “My grandma tried to teach me when I was at the most rebellious stage of my life– when I was 13 or 14,” Katie said.

“Of course, I was way too cool for that.” Laughing at the memory of her early teen years, Katie said it wasn’t until years later when she was living in Boston with her husband that she really got into knitting.

Warmth Detroit Katie Boyce
Katie’s grandmother taught her how to knit when she was a teenager. Knitting is now one of Katie’s favorite hobbies!

While in Boston, an occupational therapist that she worked with taught Katie how to knit again. She then started researching knitting tutorials on YouTube to help her continue learning about her new hobby.

Once the couple moved back to Michigan and settled in the metro Detroit area, Katie decided to create an organization for other fiber/textile artists and crafters.

“There are a lot of young people in Detroit that really are talented,” she told me. “There’s just not a place in Detroit right now for meetups.”

Katie Boyce founder of Warmth Detroit
Katie Boyce is the founder of Warmth Detroit, a new fiber arts organization connecting fiber artists and crafters.

CREATING WARMTH DETROIT

In February 2019, Katie officially launched her fiber arts organization called Warmth Detroit. Together with her business partner Kate Herron Gendreau, the two women are working hard to make connections in the fiber arts community in Detroit.

There are a few reasons why Katie started Warmth Detroit. For one, she wanted to create a space where people who have similar busy schedules like her can have a studio space to create their art.

Right now, the studio space for Warmth Detroit is a future goal that Katie and Kate are working hard to establish. Until then, the two women are focusing on creating meetings to connect with other fiber artists and crafters.

“We’re trying to mold it into a community for the makers and the Detroit area,” Katie said, “focusing on textile crafts, whether that be sewing, knitting, crocheting, or any of the above needlepoint [crafts].”

Warmth Detroit
Katie loves creating handmade fashion designs, like this knit sweater she made.

RAISING AWARENESS ABOUT SUSTAINABLE FASHION

Another reason why Katie established Warmth Detroit is that she is a big supporter of sustainable fashion. Sustainable fashion is the use of environmentally-friendly clothing, reusable clothing, and natural fibers. “Even when you wash a regular load of clothes, there are so many different small fibers that come off in the clothes and pollute the water,” Katie explained to me.

Worker’s conditions and socio-economic aspects are also taken into consideration for sustainable fashion. According to Green Strategy, “from a socio-economic perspective, all stakeholders should work to improve present working conditions for workers on the field, in the factories, transportation chain, and stores, by aligning with good ethics, best practice and international codes of conduct.”

During our phone conversation, Katie shared with me the tragic story about the 2013 Dhaka garment factory collapse. The structural failure of Rana Plaza, an eight-story building located in Savar Upazila of Dhaka District, Bangladesh, killed at least 1,134 people. It is considered to be the world’s largest garment-factory collapse.

The Dhaka garment factory collapse is considered to be the world’s largest garment factory collapse. Over 1,134 people were killed. Since then, many fashion brands have made a pledge to change how their clothing is produced.

FASHION REVOLUTION AND SUSTAINABLE FASHION

In response to the Dhaka garment-factory tragedy, Fashion Revolution was created. The global organization strives hard to work toward “radically changing the way our clothes are sourced, produced and consumed, so that our clothing is made in a safe, clean and fair way.” (“About Fashion Revolution”)

This is a cause that Katie is also passionate about. For instance, during Fashion Revolution Week, Katie shared on Warmth Detroit’s Instagram account how “the fashion industry is the third most polluting industry behind agriculture and oil.”

“Up until fairly recently,” Katie wrote on the post, “I didn’t think twice about #whomademyclothes or what impact they had on our environment.” Katie is now an advocate for making handmade clothing and being aware of how retail clothing is made.

She often shares posts on Warmth Detroit highlighting the clothing she has made through knitting. From handmade knitted tank tops to knitting her first cardigan, Katie loves to share the fashion pieces she has created.

These three pieces were handmade by Katie!

ADOPTING A NEW FASHION STYLE: CAPSULE & THRIFTY WARDROBE

Shopping at vintage and thrift stores is also another facet of sustainable fashion. “Just in the last couple of years, I have made a very conscious effort of thrifting,” Katie said.

“Detroit has so many great vintage and thrift shops in the area that is so accessible. You can find so many great things. It’s like a treasure hunt!”

Katie also recently started creating a capsule wardrobe to practice sustainable fashion. She said using a capsule wardrobe is easier for her when she gets dressed for work or a day out. It also reduces her laundry.

“Now that I’m being more conscious about what I buy, I make sure that what I’m going to spend money on is going to fit with the rest of my clothes,” she explained. Katie said she also likes to use Rent the Runway for preparing for a wedding or other special occasion. “I’m not going to buy a $400 dress that’s going to just sit in my closet.”

WORLDWIDE KNIT IN PUBLIC DAY

On June 8th, Warmth Detroit will host a special event for Worldwide Knit in Public Day. The event will be held at Capitol Park in Downtown Detroit from 11 A.M. to 3 P.M in partnership with the Downtown Detroit Partnership.

Katie hopes to connect with other crafters at the Worldwide Knit in Public Day event. “Our end goal is to open a space that we can use as a studio, and hopefully, a retail space,” she said. There will be opportunities for new members to sign up for Warmth Detroit. Beginners and experts are welcome to the event.

Warmth Detroit requests guests bring a worsted weight yarn for creating a 4×4 swatch. The group will seam the swatches together to create a work of art that is representative of the community.

There will also be equipment available for artists and crafters and locally-sourced and dyed wool. You can get more information about the Worldwide Knit in Public Day here. Follow Warmth Detroit on their Instagram account to get the latest updates on the community!

Special thanks to Katie Boyce of Warmth Detroit for sharing her story! Photographs courtesy of Katie Boyce | Photo of the Dhaka garment factory collapse courtesy of Fashion Revolution


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