kate t williamson—a year in japan :: Okan Arts
kate t williamson—a year in japan

kate t williamson—a year in japan


By Patricia Belyea

GIVEAWAY ALERT: There are two giveaways offered at the end of this post.

NEW YORK NY When the used copy of A Year in Japan arrived at my home, I gobbled it up. Author and artist Kate T Williamson filled her book with quirky vignettes and delightful illustrations about life in Japan that truly charmed me.

Below is Kate’s watercolor painting of a local tofu maker who pushed a cart down her street in Kyoto everyday at 12:30, ringing a cow bell. He was selling tofu that he’d made earlier in the day.

Tofu Maker illustration by Kate T Williamson

Instantly converted to a Kate T fan, I found her website and learned that she lived in New York City. Soon to be in the Big Apple, I made arrangements to meet Kate.

Kate attended my talk at The City Quilter, then we walked to Penn Station to enjoy a casual dinner together. Sitting outside on a warm spring night, I learned what Kate has been doing for the last decade since her book released.

First all of all, her stint in Japan was through a university scholarship where she could pick anywhere in the world and do almost anything she wanted for a year. Kate chose Japan—a place she’d always wanted to visit.

A meal in Japan by Kate T Williamson

After her Japanese experience, Kate returned to the US and started on her book. Working from her personal diary filled with watercolor paintings and observations, she refined her artwork and stories. This was a big project for a first-time author and illustrator. From start to finish, it took Kate two years to publish A Year in Japan.

Kate moved back home into her very pink, childhood bedroom. This spawned a second book: At a Crossroads: Between A Rock and My Parents’ Place.

Book illustrations by Kate T WilliamsonIn each book, socks starred in some of the illustrations. In fact, A Year in Japan devoted four pages to sock paintings where Kate wrote “Japan is sock paradise.”

Sock illustrations by Kate T Williamson

Her book on living at home and beginning to find her way as a young adult ended with Kate seeing a sock-shaped cloud in the sky. So gentle, insightful Kate did something very brave: she started a sock company.

Kate T Williamson starts a sock company

This Night, Kate’s petite sock company, makes the softest socks that stay up and don’t grab your legs. Kate has US-grown, ringspun cotton yarn custom dyed in North Carolina. Then the mill in her hometown of Reading, PA, knits the socks to her specs. A sock aficionado, Kate explains, “They are the perfect socks.”

This Night sock factory in Redding PA

A one-woman enterprise, Kate created a website where folks anywhere in the world can buy her high-quality, US-made, artist-designed socks.

This Night website

There’s no end to this story yet. Kate got married last year (yeah!) and she’s working on a new season of sock designs.

If you want to buy Kate’s book, A Year in Japan +click here

If you want to buy Kate’s book. At a Crossroads +click here

If you want to buy some of the best socks in the world +click here

If you want to visit Kate’s website +click here

For a chance to win a pair of This Night socks (your choice), answer this question in the Comment Box below: What is your favorite color of socks? 

Two winners will be chosen at midnight PST on June 25, 2016.

THIS GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED. The winners are Amy L of Falls Church VA and Trudi R of Springfield IL.

Thank you Kate and This Night for the donation of two pairs of socks! 

Photos of socks in tree and Reading PA mill by Kate Williamson.

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110 comments to “kate t williamson—a year in japan”

  1. Allison CB says:

    Purple socks…or better yet…polka dot ones!!!

  2. folksmith says:

    polka dot socks!!!

    cant wait to see the book. going to check our Kate’s website.

  3. Kae Eagling says:

    I am boring when it comes to socks, I usually by white. But I really like Kate’s grey ones with the blue dots.

  4. Debra Callaway says:

    Purple, deep dark, royal purple knee socks are the best. Unless they are shaded going from dark to light. I really like the higher men’s socks and the knee socks (do you know how hard it is to find knee socks anymore?)

    • Kate says:

      Thanks very much, Debra! Glad you like the taller lengths –– I do, too (especially when it’s cold outside)!

  5. Diane Johnson says:

    What great socks!! I would love to win a pair. They don’t even have to be matching! It is fun to show up at sewing events with a different sock on each foot, just to show just how “patchy” I am. LOL

  6. Kerry Smith says:

    Magenta or any color combination that involves polka dots!

  7. denise carbonell says:

    orange…!

  8. Joanne says:

    Dark blue

  9. Shari K. says:

    blue striped for me!

  10. Denise says:

    I like multicolored socks-

  11. Donna DeShazo says:

    Purple!! Could there BE any other color?!

  12. Barbara Kampas says:

    Love black and white socks!

  13. LeeAnn says:

    Definitely olka Dots, any color!

  14. Annette says:

    35 years ago, just before our wedding day, my hubby and I discovered that we both had a habit of wearing red socks on special days. So under my long, flowing dress and peeking out beneath his suit pants were red socks on our still very special day. My favorite color of socks? Still red, of course!

  15. Peggy Johnson says:

    My favorite color of socks is soft green

  16. Teresa Duryea Wong says:

    Pink! And a good sock is hard to find!

  17. Janet Larson says:

    Cobalt socks ate wonderful.

  18. Larena Krewall says:

    My favorite color is red socks. I also love your paintings as they seem to tell your life story

  19. cynthia meredith says:

    I don’t actually own any socks, but if II did they might be blue.

  20. Judi Bushby says:

    I read a Year in Japan several years ago now. Delightful. There was a book of postcards that went along with it which I planned to send to friends I still have them all. Can’t bear the thought is sending them away. Shall have to check out those socks.

  21. Kathleen says:

    Any shade of blue socks

  22. Rhoda says:

    I love to go into my sock drawer & pick whatever color suits my mood.
    Red, coral, yellow….

  23. tobie says:

    Dotty! Red with maroon!

  24. Mrs. Plum says:

    Kind of boring, but tan socks. I do like subtle patterns in them.

    • Kate says:

      Mrs. Plum, you are not alone! I haven’t made any tan socks yet, but there have been numerous requests! 🙂

  25. Nadine Nakano says:

    Purple purple purple is my favorite color socks!

  26. MaryFrances Painter says:

    I have been a sock habituae since living in Surrey, England in the early 1960s, no central heating, could NOT keep my feet warm enough to remain civilized. And I am picky picky picky. I finally decided I would have to knit my own socks so I could get warmth, softness, fit, color. That took forever to accomplish (is in fact still a work in progress). In the meantime, I visited Friday Harbor & found the most beautiful pair of locally hand-knit socks, intense blues & greens & fuschia & purple thar changed color as the knitting progressed, no two alike. I fell in love!

  27. Chris says:

    Honestly white. I like crisp, clean white socks. Strange I know but black is good too.

    • Kate says:

      I know what you mean, Chris––I wear patterns most of the time, but I have a pair or two of really crisp, clean white ribbed socks that always make me happy. (I think I bought them after watching Nights of Cabiria in college. Giulietta Masina wears white socks with sandals, and although I’m not sure I was ever able to pull this look off, they look really cute on her––if you scroll down, you can see them here): http://criterioncollection.blogspot.com/2006/01/49-nights-of-cabiria.html

  28. Martha Schwarz says:

    hard to decide on one color but it has to be Kyoto Maroon with red.
    Martha S.

  29. Jerie Clark says:

    Orange and yellow are my favorites.

  30. Janet Wright says:

    I love red socks!!! A little hidden color to brighten my day

  31. Trudi Rammelkamp says:

    I like black socks with designs on them. My grandchildren like my green socks with vegetable images on them.

  32. Linda Fleming says:

    I love dark colored socks – maybe black, purple, navy – but always with some pattern in another color!

  33. Carolyn Burton says:

    Surely red socks brighten up any day. Orange stripes too 🙂

  34. Paula says:

    GREEN socks are the best

  35. Robin Shilman says:

    My favorite color of socks is black.

  36. Susie Q says:

    Black is my color for socks……but….. these socks might make me go for black and white…. so many quilt shapes….. stripes, HST, Swiss, polka dot, yea I think I see more than black in socks….

    • Kate says:

      hi Susie Q––I love black and white socks, and I love geometric designs! Going to hear Patricia’s talk made me want to try quilting! (Although I feel like I might need a bit more space and a lot more patience!)

  37. Lynn D in NC says:

    I am typically wearing jeans or black slacks when I wear socks, and I love colorful socks. Any color but red.

  38. Ray Burke says:

    I am partial to black with some color in them!

  39. Brenda says:

    I love almost any colorful socks. Everything goes with jeans, right? I started wearing fun socks when I returned to work in an office and wanted something only I knew about to wear under the dull colors of business casual. Had some folks who’d regularly check to see what socks I was wearing on any given day.

    • Kate says:

      Yes, everything does go with jeans! That’s one of the things I love about socks––that they are a special detail that’s not too “look at me” but just a hint of color that might peek out (kind of like an inner kimono layer). Happy to “meet” another sock enthusiast! 🙂

  40. Barbaraben says:

    I love a pair of navy blue socks with acid green accents

  41. Laura Gottlieb says:

    I love blue socks…any shade!

  42. molly says:

    I was going to say stripes until I looked at Kate’s website, now my favorite “color” is triangles.

  43. Che'usa Wend says:

    Turquoise-teal.

    How fun! I read that book years ago and hadn’t put the sock lady’s name together with this book until I read your Blog post!

  44. Meg Cupman says:

    I like green socks, with any other color.
    Thanks for the chance to win a pair of cool socks!

  45. Drew Betz says:

    I love fuchsia colored socks, polka dots add fun to the fuchsia background!

  46. Carol Strum says:

    I love vibrant, multicolored socks!

  47. Janet Strong says:

    My favorite color of socks is every color, all in the same pair of socks. Stripes, polka dots, swirls, anything as long as they are bright and multi-colored and fun to wear.

  48. martyt says:

    blue is favorite for socks

  49. Trisch says:

    Great story! Great socks! My favorite? Grey/aqua

  50. Amy L says:

    My favorite color of socks is lime green. And your Kyoto socks are half square triangles – a quilter’s dream!

    • Kate says:

      Ooh! I love lime, too! That’s so interesting re: Kyoto––I hadn’t seen them with quilters’ eyes! 🙂 That pattern is also an ancient Japanese pattern meant to represent fish scales.

  51. Lori Morton says:

    My favorite socks are bright & fun!! But do have asst’d Blues, for times I need to be “quieter”! giggle… I LOVE SOCKS!!! 😀 Thanks for chance to win a pair!! Yay!

    I saw a news article on her socks…on the national news!! Probably 3 or 4 weeks ago!! She is AWESOME!!!

    • Kate says:

      hi Lori! Thank you so much!! And do you remember where that article was? I don’t think I ever saw it! 🙂

  52. Lydia Reading says:

    In reviewing your socks, my eye went right to the grey ones every time. I guess it’s the grey ones! who knew?

  53. Michelle says:

    Anything with blue – love the Bubble sock! Your water colors are lovely!

  54. Cynthia reed says:

    I love red and white striped socks

  55. Deborah E says:

    My favorite color for socks has changed over time. In (and after) college, I liked red. Then I returned to my childhood favorite of purple. Lately, I’ve been buying more turquoise or lime socks. Regardless of color, I prefer my socks to be patterned–ideally, geometric patterns. I love that your polka dots are irregularly spaced!

    • Kate says:

      hi Deborah––there’s some turquoise and lime coming up for fall! And as you can see, I also love geometric patterns and a little asymmetry as well! 🙂

  56. Sue Arnold says:

    I love red socks! However, any socks with hedgehogs on them are the best! I also have some with bumblebees and the Golden State Bridge. . .

  57. Pam says:

    life is short…so anything bright & surprising…I knit my own but I not in cotton!

  58. Mary Cottrell says:

    Can’t wait to read the book on Japan!!

  59. Wendy hill says:

    My favorite socks are striped!

  60. Lotta Gustafsson says:

    I love lilac! It bring brightness and happiness- two things I need more of in my life!

  61. Margaret Witt says:

    I have always been a sock person. I am sow excited to try your socks as I have many problems with them. Cutting off circulation , drooping, seam hurting toes,so on and so on.

    • Kate says:

      Thank you so much, Margaret! If you do, I hope you are pleased!! I am a serious sock person, too, and I worked with the folks at the knitting mill for about two years to develop what I consider the perfect sock: one with a comfortable band that stays up, soft cotton in just the right weight (substantial enough that they don’t seem too delicate but thin enough to fit into dress shoes), and interesting colors and patterns.

  62. Mary says:

    I love white socks! I know – boring. But I wear them every day, often changing mid day for a fresh pair

  63. SOOZ says:

    my favorite color of night socks is black.they have micky mouse glove hands
    on them….looking forward to buying her book on a year in japan. I spent
    some time there and would love to recall that time by looking at her lovely whimsical
    watercolors!

  64. Charlene Cuhaciyan says:

    My favorite color of socks is…sock-color!

  65. Kat Chapman says:

    Maroon/brown or neon!

  66. Vivian Roop says:

    Red is the color for me. Brighten my day every time I look down and keeps me dancing!

    • Kate says:

      hi Vivian––that’s what I love about socks, too! It’s so nice to look down and see a bit of cheery color!

  67. Ivy says:

    One sock, two socks, red socks, blue socks 😉

  68. Betty Leacraft says:

    My favorite color of socks are bright purple with turquoise.

  69. Deb M says:

    My favorite color of sock would have to be navy. It looks great with cobalt or leaf dots!

  70. Ellen Wong says:

    Socks of many colors! Goes with everything. Stripes are always good, but the more abstract the pattern the better.

  71. Carolyn Duff says:

    So often my feet need cheering up, so, my favorite color for them is lime green!
    They have thanked me profusely when I adorn them with bright colors. And to
    see them so happy gives me a “boost” too. It’s so nice to do uplifting things for
    others.

  72. Marilyn Waite says:

    Oh to own A pair of mid-calf orange with yellow polka dots! I’m an autumn gal with a Halloween birthday! Love the socks idea. Congratulations on beginning such a business!
    Marilyn

  73. Sherry T says:

    My favorite sock color is purple! I can’t believe how surrendipitous it was that I clicked on the Okan Arts link! My foremost love in the world is Japanese textiles and my favorite place in the world to visit is Japan. I went as a junior in college, and went back several summers in a row when my daughter taught in the JET program, and have gone back with my youngest daughter as well who loves to draw and also has drawers of cute socks we couldn’t resist getting for her! Would love to add Kate’s to her collection! How wonderful Kate has created her business using the old mills in her hometown! We used to love doing outlet shopping there in Reading when we lived in Pennsylvania some 30-odd years ago!

    • Kate says:

      hi Sherry––wow, that’s so neat! Thank you very much! Yes, I’m SO happy that there is a knitting mill left in Reading to make these socks! The outlets were very special back then. (Reading was the self-proclaimed “Outlet Capital of the World”––I remember when I was little, they often sold true factory seconds, and you had to check that one arm wasn’t longer than the other! :))

  74. Monica says:

    My favorites are always the socks with back stories — like the bears on unicycles or the rabbits on the moon. I love to try to imagine how the characters made it on to the socks to be immortalized. 🙂

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