Wool Makes Her Happy!
After graduating with a BA in Art in 2005, Cassandra—Cassie—Harada nee Huffman, moved to Tokyo in 2006 for a job with an English school. Her plan was to take a bit of time off from the arts and gather some life experience.
While gathering life experiences, Cassie has also gathered a husband and a daughter.
Although she had been knitting since 2001, in 2008 she gave birth to her daughter Nanami Mae, and picked up her knitting again to help her cope with the stress of having a newborn.
In 2009 Cassie launched a website Fiber Republic selling needles and hand spun yarns. As fiber farming isn’t a big industry in Japan, in that same year she toured the south island of New Zealand in search of good fleeces and fiber farmers to build a relationship with. She also began designing independently, although she says her first few bits of work were pretty terrible.
By 2010 she had decided to knit every pattern she could to learn more about construction, historical aspects, technique from different countries, and anything else that would help her design. And by November of 2011 she had begun designing again and this time things were not “terrible.”
By then she had also garnered the interest of a small Chinese yarn company called Lotus Yarns. In March of this year Lotus Yarns named her their “in-house designer.” Cassie is currently in a design partnership with a woman from the England and Lotus Yarns is helping them launch their “independent designers program.”
She also helps Lotus Yarns develop new colors and new lines of yarn. Lotus often consults with Cassie based on her personal aesthetic and her experience as a knitter. She designs for them, and in fact, she says she has about 8 projects on the needles at once.
Cassie Harada says it’s turned into a very full-time job, and she’s very happy to be working in a creative environment, especially in an area that she has such a passion for.
Wool makes her happy! Working for a luxury yarn company is something a lot of people can only wish for in the design world, but she says she volunteered first, and after Lotus realized how serious she was and that she really has a passion for what she does, they made her an employee.
Despite the stigma that knitting is a “hobby” for most people, Cassie’s dream of making a career out of her passion has come true.
While at WIU, Cassie studied mostly with Bill Howard, Jan Clough and Julie Mahoney. Cassie says she feels like she uses her education every day—color theory, composition, 3D design—thank you Kat Myers. She also has to make sketches on a regular basis so she uses a lot of what Julie Mahoney and Jan Clough taught her as well.
Cassie says she knows in fine arts many people often end up struggling to find careers that use their degree, so she feels like she’s gotten the absolute best of what she could have hoped for.