It’s no surprise that the crafting world is largely dominated by women. Historically, women were often “trained” in the arts, and a woman’s talents in a crafting space would often, unfortunately, dictate her class, status, and her ability to marry. I could go on and on about the foundational aspects of feminism, crafting, gender, and more , but instead of getting into why it’s such a female space, I’d rather focus today on celebrating some of the wonderful women who are elevating the concept of crafting to a new level.

To celebrate International Women’s Day 2020, I reached out to some of the crafters in my Insta-world that truly inspire me. As savvy businesswomen, creative designers, and empathetic humans, there’s a reason why seeing their content on my feed yields daily joy, even beyond just my own fangirling.

I asked each woman who I wanted to feature a couple of questions so that everyone could get to know them better. Often, we see and admire the women who dominate our creative spaces, but we might not know too much about the person behind the make. My goal in this feature is to shed some light on the thoughts and drive behind some of the women who challenge me to be better with my craft, in building my community, and in uplifting those around me. Without further ado, let’s get this International Women’s Day edition of #MeetTheMaker on the road!

Meet the (International Women) Makers

What do you think is the biggest challenge that women face today?

I think a lot of us struggle with confidence in ourselves and look at competition in the wrong way. We shouldn’t be trying to compete with each other. If we would stop competing, I think our confidence as a whole would go up.

What gives you hope?

The community. I am mindful to surround myself with positive and encouraging people and being around these people everyday is what gives me hope. They encourage me daily and I try my best to encourage them right back!

What is your advice to other crafters who are starting out?

Don’t compare your start to someone else who's been doing this for a while! Actually just don’t compare yourself to anyone (LOL); you are unique.

About Ashley

Ashley of A Crafty Concept has a HUGE milestone coming up with the launch of Crochet Boss Academy on March 20th, 2020. If you’re interested in access to tons of high-quality, exclusive content and guidance in how to be a better crafty entrepreneur, you should definitely check out Crochet Boss Academy! In general, Ashley spends the majority of her time trying to uplift those around her. Whenever she thinks of something new and innovative, she shares it with her community. It’s one of the many reasons why we all love her so much!

What do you think is the biggest challenge that women face today?

I think we live in a time of transition in which women are under lots of pressure. We are expected to wear all the hats and I feel that no matter where we place our priorities, we are being judged. That’s why it’s so important for us women to support each other, without judging each other’s choice of lifestyle and priorities in life.

What gives you hope?

Women like you, Madeline, who lift other women up instead of looking at them as competitors. Seeing movements like #communityovercompetition grow gives me hope for a bright future in which we all work together instead of competing with each other.

What is your advice to other crafters who are starting out?

Don’t be afraid to try new crafts that interest you or even different ways to perform those crafts. You never know, the next craft you try could be the one that changes your life! I have been knitting and crocheting on and off since I was a little girl. I used to make hats, scarves and sometimes clothing. I enjoyed it a lot but it was never more than a hobby that I would pursue during the winter months.

It was only a few years ago that I discovered amigurumi. I‘m so glad that I gave it a go! It was the first time that a craft truly lit me up, so much so that I decided to turn it into a business. Designing amigurumi crochet patterns is what makes me excited to wake up in the morning!

About Stella

Stella of Stella’s Yarn Universe is about as creative as creativity gets. In addition to creating the most adorable amigurumi patterns ever, she is also a magnificent storyteller. Each character that she creates has an entire journey once they come to life on her hook. Through her beautifully crafted photos, she spins a tale for each one and leads her community down the winding roads and the wild adventures of her amigurumi friends. Stella’s Yarn Universe is a great example of how much magic can go into crochet, crafting, and creation.

What do you think is the biggest challenge that women face today?

I still feel like there is a lot of girl on girl crime in the world today. It's hard to get out of the mindset that other women are not my competition and that we should all be there for eachother. While I know the saying "you are not for everyone" is true, there is still some basic respect that I think is owed to all women, all people, and if we could make the effort to be kind, it may not feel like such a rat race. There is truly room for all of us to succeed (in our businesses and in life)

What gives you hope?

The craft community is so incredibly supportive and gives so many people the space they need to share and be themselves, which definitely gives me hope!

What is your advice to other crafters who are starting out?

Keep making and experimenting! It's okay to try and try again.

About Laura

Laura of That Crafty Bitch is all about the “you do you” spirit. She believes that “a business is a business, regardless of it you’ve made one sale or one thousand and regardless of it you do it full time or on the side” and that definitely comes out in her feed. Between her gorgeous crochet projects inspired by the birds of Vermont and her empowering posts that help her community to discover what they love about themselves, Laura has successfully created an artistic, inclusive environment around her lovely brand.

What do you think is the biggest challenge that women face today?

Comparison! Not being comfortable sharing our challenges because we don’t see anyone else with the same challenges. Being vulnerable is so hard in general and then on social media, we want to show our best self. In that then I think we sometimes lose our authentic self.

What gives you hope?

Being acknowledged and someone saying that my craft is a talent. Sometimes on IG I feel like it’s nothing special because everyone seemingly “can do it”. But recently an item I made gained interest from my “nonmaker” friends, and the compliments and acknowledgment I received from them really made a difference for me.

What is your advice to other crafters who are starting out?

My advice would be to not give up! You will get discouraged. You will see other makers who are better than you, have more friends than you, have more followers than you. Cleo’s Ladder is slow moving. It is not my day job, and I don’t want it to be. But I still compared myself to those who poured more into than I did. I had to accept that I was getting back what I put in, and comparing wasn’t making me feel any better! I needed to get to a point where I was proud of what I did do. So, relax. Do what you love. Invest in other makers and support them. When I started cheering for people, they started cheering for me. I honestly think I was just bugging Laura (that_crafty_bitch) and Madeline (You!) and harassed them into being my friend! :) You’ve got this!

About Candice

Candice of Cleo’s Ladder is the definition of girl power on Instagram. She uses her voice, energy, and space to uplift those around her in whatever way she can. Candice is also an incredibly talented crafter (don’t be surprised if you see hundreds of Baby Yodas on her feed). Her posts light up Instagram, and she’s constantly engaging with the community she has built, always there to lend a helping hand.

What do you think is the biggest challenge that women face today?

Navigating a culture that implies gender equality is much improved and that we should be grateful, whilst stomaching injustices we see and experience every day, and trying to challenge unjust systems and attitudes in ways that won’t lose us our jobs, houses, reputations, friends, safety. To build businesses, families, communities, lives and our selves in this (still very patriarchal) culture is an exhausting juggling act. The biggest challenge is finding a path through all of these complexities.

What gives you hope?

Seeing women create businesses, opportunities and spaces for themselves on their own terms. Rewriting the rules on a small scale, in small organisations, will eventually change the culture.

What is your advice to other crafters who are starting out?

Get started. Don’t wait until you have your brand or photography style nailed to start posting to Instagram or to open your shop. You can finesse your style as you go and learn what works for you and your followers/customers. Start building that following now because it takes a lot of time & work. Perfectionism can come later. Starting out with an imperfect brand/style is not going to negatively effect your business. In the scheme of things, only a few people will see that early work and most likely they’ll actually be interested in following the growth and change to your brand. Just make a start now!

About Lauren

Lauren of She Starts Again is not only a talented crochet designer but an incredibly cerebral human who enlightens her followers along the journey to her Ph.D. The clean, minimalist aesthetic of her brand paired with the complex work she does in her studies make her account unique and refined. A breath of fresh air, Lauren is very open and honest about the realities of the world, never shying away from sharing with her community how she is and how that affects her work and life. She Starts Again is an open, warm space for everyone.

What do you think is the biggest challenge that women face today?

Whew, so many other things factor in when talking about issues women face - race, culture, socioeconomic status. But for the western context that I find myself in: this culture likes to tell the story that there's only room for a few women at the top and that we're in competition with each other for those spots. And that belief can make its way into female-dominated communities like crafting and fibre arts. But there's room for all of us and we all do better when we champion each other's accomplishments, when we amplify other voices, and when we check our own privileges and listen and learn from women in other spheres.

What gives you hope?

New squishy yarn - anything and everything seems possible with a new ball of yarn.

What is your advice to other crafters who are starting out?

Focus on projects and techniques that bring you the most joy. There are so many amazing makers out there creating incredible things. And this can be a source of inspiration or it can be super overwhelming, making you feel like you should be focusing on this trend or that technique. Find what you love making and then get really good at it. :)

About Alita

Alita of Alita Danette is the Tunisian crocheter that we all want to be. While she is a crocheter of all kinds, Tunisian is her specialty. Her feed will be just the inspiration that you need as it's filled with real and beautiful things–exactly what you want to surround yourself with as a crafter. Elegant, clean, and oh-so-squishy, Alita’s work will have you picking up your hook and setting off in no time. And if you’ve never heard of Tunisian crochet before, you’ll be able to discover a new obsession (there’s no way you’ll be able to resist the beauty of Alita’s makes).

In addition to the thoughtful responses that each crafter gave to these questions, they also took time to shoutout some female crafters that inspire them. If you're looking to fill your feed with the wonderful women who populate the creative space, you might want to check out some of these accounts!

@tlyarncrafts @theknottyboss @montana.crochet @fantasysprites @knitcollage @sweetteacraftco @autumndengoodman @yokieb @tlbpatterns @crochetasticbotique @the_markit @brave.sunday @chandlarandco @wyldflowercrochet @cjckrafts @unconventional.luna @theacorncraftshop @thechestnutforge @thepricklyowlco @claudiasyarn @the_crafty_mom_inc @make.do.and.stitch @twoofwands @knittingbydarian @nerfherderknits @sabrina_knits @a_cute_design @zazzembroidery @megmadewithlove @jasminestar @amyporterfield

All in all, there's a reason that #CommunityOverCompetition has sprouted in online spaces like Instagram. We all crave community and want to contribute to something constructive and positive. There's a reason why nearly every woman here mentioned the need to uplift those around us. For this International Women's Day, I would encourage everyone to take a moment to shine some light on the other women in your life that inspire you and bring you joy. Be the support bra we all wish we had.

Thank You!

The biggest thank you ever goes out to these women and the time they took in sharing their thoughts for this blog. Always remember that a rising tide lifts all boats. We're in it together!

Madeline wearing her Fin in the sun hat

Hi, I'm Madeline.

As both an avid reader and passionate crafter, I aim to combine my passions and share them with the world through ofbooksandhooks . Here, you'll find book and crochet pairings, season's readings, and more. Please feel free to reach out to me directly on Instagram if you have any questions. Enjoy!