On today’s episode of the Craft Industry Alliance podcast, we’re talking about building a community through knitting with my guest Jewell Washington.

Jewell Washington is the Chicago-based maker and entrepreneurial designer of Northknits. She learned to knit in college and launched Northknits in 2014. Jewell pursues simple living through her passion for DIY, pattern design, stacking her yarn shelf, and providing business and entrepreneurial advice to fellow crafters. As the founder of Our Maker Life, a global maker movement, she has connected more than 120,000 fellow fiber creatives in the knit, crochet, and yarn industry via maker meetups, published books, and social media. She enjoys traveling and sweet cuddles with her kitten Dewey. 

This episode is sponsored by Bernet International.

Your designs custom made.

Have you outgrown your textile wholesale supplier or want more control in your supply chain? At Bernet International, we provide art concept to delivery services with expert manufacturers. From textiles and fiber to notions, we’ve supported the quilt, home goods, garment, and craft industries for 40 years.

We begin this conversation by talking about Jewell’s life when she was a child and her ambition to work in writing and journalism. She talks about her years studying at the University of South Carolina where she first learned to knit during a dorm social activity. After getting a degree focused in broadcast journalism and working for a few years, Jewell moved to Chicago to get her master’s degree in print journalism at Roosevelt University.

Jewell had a desire to give back to people in Chicago and a friend suggested that she sell the knitted scarves she was making and donate a portion of the profits to a local charity that assisted the homeless. That was the start of her knitwear company Northknits. She talks about how she chose the name for her company and how it evolved over time.

Throughout her time working in the yarn industry, Jewell has held a day job in marketing. She talks about how she balances both of these endeavors and how one can help to feed the other.

Jewell is a co-founder of Our Maker Life, a community for knitting and crochet that runs in-person gatherings and partners with brands. Jewell explains how she connected via social media with the other co-founders to create this organization. The next Our Maker Life meetup will be in Portland, Oregon in July 2022. Our Maker Life has recently launched an online community that is free and open to everyone.

Our Maker Life self-published two books before writing a book with Abrams. Jewell talks about the differences between the experience of self-publishing and working with a mainstream publisher and the goals they had for the Our Maker Life book.

Jewell is exceptionally good at Instagram and we talk about her approach to the platform and how she creates such a gorgeous, coordinated feed.

Jewell will also be the keynote speaker at h+h americas, a trade show for the crafts industry in Chicago June 22-24.

And, of course, I ask Jewell to recommend great stuff she’s enjoying right now. Jewell recommends:

Keep up with Jewell on her Instagram and on Our Maker Life Instagram to see what she’s working on next.

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This