Her name’s Judith. She loves cats and early nights with a glass of wine. Knitting is her passion. If she were 60 years older, she’d make the perfect grandma. But at 23 years old, Judith Becker is using her love of cats and crafts to promote generosity both to herself and others. With her Instagram brand Knittin With Kitten, she shows others the value of self-care, compassion and, of course, knitting and kittens.
Becker started knitting seven years ago after seeing a cousin knitting at a family Christmas party. Growing up with artists — a mom who makes surreal art, a sister who is an art therapist, a brother who sings — the motivation to learn a new craft was always present, so Becker bought some supplies, pulled up knitting tutorials on YouTube and started learning.
She immediately fell in love with the craft and started bringing her yarn everywhere she went, whether it was school, the grocery store or a music festival. “It’s like I was meant to do it,” she says, “like ‘oh, this is me now.’” She created her Instagram page, Knittin With Kitten, to promote her craft, explaining the name in an Instagram post: “There has not been a time in my life where I did not have a cat. This is where I feel most at home, with some yarn and a cat.”
Her message of doing what you love because you love it is one she learned through experience. Initially, Becker sold her crafts on Etsy and at First Fridays. She made small, squishy cat toys and other items that knitted up quickly. She was seeing success, but it came at a cost. “It was just causing more stress than giving me joy,” she says.
So she stopped selling. “I was just like, you know what, I have all my life to sell stuff if I want to,” she says. “I’m just going to show people what I’m doing, and if they like it, they like it; if they don’t, they don’t.”
Now, her knitting is driven solely by her. She still knits all the time — “If I’m sitting, I’m knitting,” she says, which adds up to about two to three hours per day — but she makes what she wants, when and how she wants it. If the weather gets chilly and she’s eager for a new sweater, she’ll make one. If it’s been gloomy and rainy for a few days, she’ll start in on a pair of rainbow mittens. She enjoys working in her small, purple studio at home, where an old rocking chair looks out onto the street and her cats often sit on her lap (or yarn) while she works. She knits before work, during her lunch break, in bed with a glass of wine, at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art and everywhere in between. One of her favorite things is wearing what she knits and being able to respond to compliments with “thanks, I made it!” “I feel a lot of pride,” she says of wearing her work. “I want to wear it every single day because it’s cozy and warm and I made it.”
But as much as the craft is about self-care for her, she’s in it for others, too. At any given time, Becker’s working on four or five projects. Some of those are for her, some are gifts for friends and family, and many are just to have in her car in case she sees someone in need, especially in the winter months.
“I think people forget about that kind of stuff,” she says. “Like, where do they get their clothes? So something that’s handmade, that’s clean, that’s warm… I just try to keep something in my car all the time so that I always have something to give because it can be pretty dehumanizing to have people ignore you, to never look at you in the eye, never tell you to have a good day, never do anything like that.”
Becker also wants to open a yarn shop one day — with a cat café attached, obviously — so she can help future knitters. She doesn’t know where, and she doesn’t know when, but she knows she’s going to do it. “I can just be surrounded by yarn and knit the stuff that I want to work on and help people do the same,” she says.
And, more than anything, she wants her Instagram to be a place where others can be inspired and share the joy she’s found in knitting. “Just finding your little happy place is what it’s really all about,” she says.