Living and working in the social media world, you make a lot of friends you never meet. You share Tweets, Pins, and like each other’s Instagrams, but your paths usually don’t cross for many reasons. Janelle was one of those friends of mine. I connected with her a couple years ago and let her know when we were hosting out Winter Accessories Design Challenge hoping she could share the opportunity with her crocheting friends and perhaps enter herself. As the fates (and our design panel judges) had it, she was destined to win the contest so we could finally meet (among many other great perks of winning a design challenge!).
Stepping into her home was not like stepping into a typical studio tour. I was greeted with brunch and mimosas – it felt more like a play date. An hour later I found myself on the floor of her spare bedroom where she stores her supplies and designs, playing with yarn, hooks, and a ukulele (of all things) and I thought I was going to have to call my mom to see if I could stay longer.
Janelle and I speak the same language – she too was taught to knit and crochet by her grandmothers and spends her evenings with a project on the sofa. Never wanting to have idle hands, she has come up with some beautiful designs to keep her fingers busy, one of which won over the judges of our design challenge. Meet Janelle and welcome to her Philadelphia home – a veritable crocheter’s paradise.
What are your most essential tools?
My size “S” crochet hook, scissors, a yarn needle, a teeny tiny handmade crochet hook my aunt sent me which I keep in my purse for “Just in case situations,” and an abundance of yarn, obviously!
Where do you find inspiration within this space?
My wall of yarn brings huge inspiration to me. For a long time, I was keeping my yarn in bins and I’d have to dig through them when I needed a certain color. Having it displayed makes a great difference. I want to spend all day and night in this room just looking at the colors and feeling happy and inspired! It’s really fun having a room dedicated just to my craft, I’m very grateful.
Where does down time fit into a day in the studio?
I work a typical 9-5 job, so I spend most of my time in the evenings and on the weekends in my studio space. Knitting or crocheting is my down time. I usually will put on a movie or watch a TV show on Netflix while I work. I just finished watching the series “Orange is the New Black,” and am currently taking suggestions for other great TV!!!
What was the toughest lesson you learned as a young designer starting a business?
Working for yourself is challenging! There will be ups and downs as well as days when what you set out to create just doesn’t work out. After a little while you start to learn what works best and what you wouldn’t do again. Everything you try turns into a growing experience.
What advice would you offer the you of 5 years ago?
Be patient, go with your first instincts, don’t ever be afraid to try something new and believe in yourself and your creativity because it will never steer you wrong.
How do you set goals for yourself?
My knitting and crochet goals vary depending on the time of year. In the Spring and Summer months I like to play around with organic cotton yarn as well as work on new, chunkier designs for fall. During the fall and winter months I’m more focused on participating in shows and trying to get my work out there for people to see. For the duration of that time it’s more about making quantities of my designs rather than new items.
How and when do you decide to celebrate a victory?
I absolutely LOVE Sofia Coppola’s Sparkling Wine. It’s packaged super girly in pink cellophane, so when I make something exciting and new, I love to kick back with a glass usually while wearing my new design!
What quote keeps you motivated?
“Not All Who Wander Are Lost.” This quote is important to me because when I first saw it, I really wasn’t sure what I wanted to do with my life. I had just been laid off of a job I thought I would be at for a long time and I started my small business with no real sense of what I was doing. My life felt like it was in constant shambles. That quote really inspired me and made me believe that it was okay to “wander.” As long as you follow your heart, you will never truly be lost.
What are some new skills you are trying to acquire to perfect your craft?
I find myself crocheting more than knitting so I would love to knit more, especially some of the more intricate stitches. I recently purchased a cable stitch holder so I can learn how to cable knit. YouTube can be a great resource for learning new techniques!
How do you recharge your creativity?
I love being outside, especially this time of year. Something just as simple as going and sitting in Rittenhouse Park and people watching can be very inspiring. Also, I know this is sort of weird, but I get a lot of my best ideas in the shower!
Where does collaboration come into play with your craft?
Since knitting is more of a one man craft, I’d say collaboration comes into play when it is time for a photo shoot. My dear friend Sharyn Frenkel is a super talented and successful wedding photographer in the Philadelphia area and we have worked together on four product shoots thus far. It is always so nice to get together and throw ideas back and forth and see what we come up with to make my designs really stand out. We have a couple of super gorgeous friends that are willing to model my designs, so it really just turns into a fun day, typically followed by a pitcher of Sangria!
See Janelle’s winning design here.