Jennifer Ackerman-Haywood was born in Detroit Rock City and now lives in West Michigan with her husband, Jeff, and two daughters. She makes a living teaching craft workshops, working as a freelance feature writer and adjunct journalism professor, and selling wooden weaving looms and handprinted goods. She hopes to realize her childhood dream to write a book very soon. She likes to quilt, knit, weave, sew, carve blocks, pull prints and do just about every craft under the sun. She’s almost always armed with a portable project. She started the Craftsanity podcast in late 2005 while on her second maternity leave from her newspaper gig. She continues to interview artists and crafters from around the globe, review the latest books and products and share fun project ideas you can try out in your home studios or with a group of artist friends and kids. She’ll be recording interviews at Midwest Craft Con with anyone who’d like to tell their story!
Why do you do what you do?
I make things because it’s how I breathe and process every life experience. In good times and bad, I create my way through it, documenting it with text and stitches along the way. I enjoy interviewing creative people because they inspire me, and I am intrigued by the stories behind the art and craft they create.
What’s your earliest crafty memory?
One of my earliest crafty memories is learning to crochet at the Sunday night craft gathering my great-grandma hosted weekly. Sitting in a low, kid-sized chair at her kitchen table, I fumbled with my size “G” hook in my earliest attempt to crochet a potholder out of brown rug yarn. Even though I was only about 5, I was very proud to be crafting at that table surrounded by four generations of women in my family. That was my first social experience with the sisterhood of craft. I felt like I was part of something very special, and I still remember it fondly.
What crafty personality would you most like to get a drink with?
My full list is too long to type but here are some names off the top of my head: Heather Jones, Clara Parkes, Eric Hoffman, Lea Redmond, Erin Paisley, Abby Glassenberg and Lisa Congdon. But I’m a lightweight when it comes to booze, so I should probably save myself from disaster and stick to conducting sober interviews with creative types from all walks of life. The truth is, I actually find most conversations with creative people very intoxicating. 🙂
What advice would you go back and give your younger self?
Don’t be so hesitate. Hatch a plan, do all your prep work and then run full blast toward your goal. Don’t give all your time away. Don’t put everyone else first all of the time. Commit to yourself and don’t feel bad about your success. Celebrate it. Remember that if you stay focused your goals and do well, you will be better equipped to help others do well. Practice what you preach, sister. And when all else fails, remember that nothing bad happens to writers. The ups and downs make for great stories. Write them.
What’s your favorite craft/business book?
My list of favorite books is ridiculously long as my house is overflowing with them. So I’m going to simplify things and share a title I’m currently enjoying. I just interviewed Clara Parkes, author of “Knitlandia: A Knitter Sees the World,” and it’s so well written. Clara has such a wonderful voice to her writing that makes the stories such a joy to read. Her book will be released in February and I highly recommend it.
How did you get where you are today, in 10 words or less?
I work hard and believe that anything is possible.
What are your goals for 2016?
In 2016 I want to:
- relaunch CraftSanity Magazine (a new issue is coming out in February)
- expand my podcast audience
- record more content for the CraftSanity YouTube channel
- stick with a fitness plan
- dedicate time to property launching and marketing CraftSanity Prints
- commit to sending out a regular newsletter
- carve out more time to write
- begin work on my first book
- spend more time by the water