When Christina Fagan’s sisters told her to put “the [expletive] that she knits” online — poking fun at the now 27-year-old’s knitting obsession — Fagan didn’t realize that the name would stick and that “stuff” would become her full-time job.
Growing up, the Weston native spent time in Nova Scotia and as a 10-year-old had a lot of spare time on her hands because there wasn’t much for her to do. So Fagan’s mom helped keep her busy with yarn and knitting needles, and the pastime turned into a 17-year hobby.
“I loved knitting and I kept knitting through middle school, high school, and college,” Fagan said. “It’s just something fun I like to do with my hands.”
While at Skidmore College, Fagan spent a lot of her time — oftentimes neglecting her homework — knitting. When Fagan took her sisters’ teasing seriously and started a blog about her projects, she noted at the beginning that her projects were “nothing Pinterest-worthy.”
In 2014, Fagan opened up a booth for her business at Boston’s SoWa Open Market for a couple of weekends, and spent that whole summer knitting beanies. Both weekends Fagan ended up selling out all of her hats — and local stores took note. Fagan’s knitting needles couldn’t keep up with the demand , so she looked to the knitting community for help.
“Everyone wanted Christmas gifts but I needed some semblance of a social life so I posted on Instagram that I was adding to the team, and so for one season we had a team in Boston who would knit the designs I created,” Fagan said. “Once we had that momentum, I decided to quit my job and move home to try to do this full time.”
After the season of help from local knitters, Fagan decided to outsource the knitting to a company that employs Peruvian women. The high-quality yarn, 100 percent merino wool, is made in Peru and distributed to women around Lima who then can knit at home while taking care of their children.
“The knitters in Peru are so much more talented than I am; everything is always just so beautiful and perfect,” Fagan said. “I design a prototype and send it down to Peru, and they correct things, make things tighter, and just better.”
Now Fagan has opened a studio in Allston where she holds knitting classes and collects donated knitting supplies for young adults with cancer.
The idea behind Fagan’s Give a [expletive] Knit Kits came after teaching a friend of a friend who was recently diagnosed with leukemia how to knit. Fagan held a class for the woman and her girlfriends, and after, the woman’s mom said that while she was knitting, she forgot about cancer for the first time in weeks.
“I wanted to find a philanthropic side of my business, and I wanted it to be organic, authentic, and real and [teaching cancer patients how to knit] really spoke to me,” Fagan said.
With help from yarn and knitting companies Fagan has been able to donate around 300 kits to cancer centers across the country. She points to the program and the fact that the production of the beanies supports women in Peru for the reason that some shoppers are willing to shell out a little extra cash for her beanies, which are sold online for around $125.
So the company name that started as a joke about her knitting obsession has given Fagan a completely new career path and she isn’t planning on straying from the name Sh*t That I Knit anytime soon.
The name of the company is “a mix of being a little irreverent with a granny activity,” Fagan said. “It’s a perfect mix that’s not aggressive but a little spunky.”
Lexi Peery can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org