Roping them in
For many years, life got in the way of Anne Weil’s passion for handcraft. But in 2010, the Colorado-based maker decided to turn that around, creating a blog that quickly evolved into a lifestyle portal offering a variety of do-it-yourself patterns, projects and inspiration to help others weave a happy, handmade life.
“I always loved handcraft while growing up,” Ms. Weil recently told the News-Press from her home in Denver. “It didn’t matter what it was — knitting, crochet, cross-stitching — I spent hour after hour doing it. I would stare at magazines and cut out photographs.
“I’ve been pinning since I was 10 but set it all aside for a while when I got into the whole rat race of getting good grades, a good college and a good job. It took me a while to figure out how much I was missing the creative side of my life and how much that brought me. So I started making again and blogging about it.”
The result is Flax & Twine (flaxandtwine.com), a website where makers will find a collection of simple yet elegant designs and projects encompassing knitting, weaving, crochet and embroidery. In addition to her pattern designs being featured in Martha Stewart, Design*Sponge, Elle Decor, Real Simple and the Huffington Post, Ms. Weil has also authored the books “Knitting Without Needles” and “Weaving Within Reach.”
But as passionate as Ms. Weil is about publishing her designs, she is just as enthusiastic about sharing her passion in person and will be offering a series of workshops at the Craftcation craft conference this week in Ventura. There, Ms. Weil will be hosting sessions in Woven Rope Bowl, Woven Neck Lace and Circular Woven Cotton Trivet making.
Born and raised in Minneapolis, Minn., Ms. Weil’s grandmother taught her how to crochet when she was 6, and a year later her mother taught her how to knit. She picked up cross-stitching from a savvy babysitter and has never found a craft she didn’t like.
While creating was put on a back burner while she studied liberal arts at college and carved out a career in finance in New York City, she returned to making after a trip to Jackson Hole.
“When I was out there, I started questioning what I was doing in New York,” Ms. Weil said. “I realized I needed to get out of there and pursue my passion. So I moved out west to the mountains and inched my way back into a creative life.”
One of the main inspirations for Ms. Weil to start blogging about what she was making was the opportunity to photograph her creations.
“The whole act of blogging encapsulated so many things I loved,” Ms. Weil said. “Not only is there the making and then showing other people how to do it through the online tutorials, but also capturing everything photographically. One of my favorite parts is illustrating what I’ve made through photography. With that, the blog grew and grew.”
The blog also brought Ms. Weil to the attention of a publisher. The result was her 192-page, 2015 Potter Craft-released book, “Knitting Without Needles: A Stylish Introduction to Finger and Arm Knitting.” The book shows how to loop yarn with your fingers or forearms, offering 30 simple-to-follow patterns to produce items such as cowls, totes, rugs, poufs and scarves with stylish results.
The book was a catalyst for Ms. Weil to further grow her creative endeavors.
“The release of the book started me writing patterns to be published,” she said. “I also started an online shop through which I sell a lot of patterns and kits and books, and it then led into a second book on weaving.”
Released last year through Clarkson Potter, “Weaving Within Reach: Beautiful Woven Projects by Hand or by Loom” presents a collection of projects for creating earrings, clutches, pillows, wall hangings and more, all organized by skill level.
“I wanted to approach weaving from an easy entry (standpoint),” Ms. Weil. “I wanted to share ideas for weaving with what you have in front of you and to show some of the beautiful things you can create with rope or things like that. I wanted it to be simple and accessible and to fill a niche in the weaving market between the complex side of weaving at one end and tapestry at the other.
“When you look at master weavers, it’s complicated and it’s hard to dive into something like that. At the other end of the spectrum, you have kids weaving on a piece of cardboard with yarn, but there wasn’t much between the two. So I wanted to explore creating fabric with weaving and then ways of turning that into utilitarian and beautiful items.”
Weaving will be the focus of Ms. Weil’s Craftcation workshops, something she is very much looking forward to.
“I love creating something from virtually nothing,” Ms. Weil said. “I love that you can start with something like rope and create something very beautiful.”
Craftcation takes place Wednesday through Sunday at the Ventura Beach Marriott, 2055 E. Harbor Blvd., Ventura. There is a waiting list for tickets. For more information about the conference and to join the list, visit www.dearhandmadelife.com/craftcation-conference. For more information about Flax & Twine, visit www.flaxandtwine.com.