Jennifer Ackerman-Haywood is the producer of the CraftSanity podcast, CraftSanity website and Running with Needles blog . She has been a print journalist for more than a decade and writes a weekly art and craft column for The Grand Rapids Press and does weekly craft segments on WZZM Channel 13’s local morning show “Take Five & Company.” She loves kayaking with her husband, crafting with her kids, chatting with artists and crafters, wearing aprons in public, fiber art, reading, running, swimming, flowers (of course!) and all things handmade. She lives in West Michigan with her husband and two daughters.
How did you first get started “crafting?”
I was born into a pretty crafty family. When I was a small child, my mom would take me to craft night at my Great Grandma’s house. I just loved pulling up a chair to that table in Great Grandma’s kitchen and working on my projects. I learned how to make granny squares and witnessed Great Grandma’s amazing talent for recreating intricate designs without a pattern. She was amazing with a crochet hook. From there, I seemed to just get more and more addicted to the handmade way of life.
What is it about crafts that gives you so much pleasure?
I just plain love to make things and have since I was a little girl with a fresh box of Crayolas. I find the creative process to be challenging and relaxing and a wonderful outlet to express myself. I craft through the best and worst of times. It’s like breathing for me. I feel like I have to make things to achieve a calm and happy balance in my life.
You do just about every craft on the planet! Which ones do you enjoy the most?
Asking me to pick my favorite craft is like asking me to pick my favorite child – I can’t do it. I will say that I like variety and feel blessed to have versatility when it comes to art and craft. I have at least a working knowledge of many crafts, so I get to have a lot of fun combining techniques. I love to machine sew and weave on my looms, but I can’t easily travel with a sewing machine or floor loom, so it helps to have several portable crafts to choose from like knitting, crocheting or a hand-sewing project.
Is there a craft that you haven’t done yet, but would like to try your hand at?
I want to try screen printing, glass blowing, hairpin lace, tatting and woodturning and more. I want to try everything. : )
Are you seeing a shift in the popularity of different types of crafts?
Yes, knitting was all the rage a few years ago, but now sewing seems to be a growing craft trend. People are still knitting, but there are some great new sewing books out that are inspiring people to dust off the sewing machines they have stashed in their basements.
In your opinion, what will be the “next big thing” in crafting?
I’m hardly qualified to determine the next big thing, but I think sewing and crochet are going to continue to grow in popularity.
You have your own blog called CraftSanity. One of the best things about it is the interviews you do with leaders within the art and craft industry. Name some interesting folks that you have interviewed.
I’ve produced more than 90 shows since I started the podcast in January of 2006, so I’ve interviewed dozens of inspiring people. I usually don’t pick favorites, but I have to make an exception for Carol Duvall, the “queen of craft” and a real pioneer in the industry. You can hear my chat with her on CraftSanity episode 57.
What is your favorite Flower craft?
I love pressing flowers in a flower press. Pansies are great for this. I also like to crochet flowers to use as lapel pins and embellishments for handbags, hats and other items.
Finish this sentence…”When I’m not crafting, I’m…
Name the most unusual place that you’ve crafted.
I craft everywhere. I craft at work, in line at the post office and always in the passenger seat during car trips. I even did some knitting at Disney World last week while waiting in line for a ride.
Read more about Jennifer, her amazing crafting skills and the CraftSanity website by visiting her About CraftSanity page.