Drop your knitting needles and roll up your sleeves. the only thing you’ll be needing are your hands, some fluffy wool and the projects in Anne Weil’s beautiful and very crafty new book, Knitting Without Needles: A Stylish Introduction to Finger and Arm Knitting from Potter Craft. in the book Anne shares stylish patterns that are incredibly simple, but yield gorgeous DIY results and covers two new popular techniques: Finger knitting, a form of weaving loops of yarn through one another on your hand to create long chains of knit fabric; and arm knitting, which uses your forearms to loop strands of yarn into chunky knits. so it sounds like you can stay warm and cozy while you’re knitting!
Anne’s techniques are super easy and provide near-instant gratification. Imagine knitting a chunky scarf in just 45 minutes! beginners and experienced knitters alike can make the fabulous projects in Knitting Without Needles, from lavish home decor like this gorgeous pouf anne made for me from Cascade Magnum yarn donated by purl soho for her the great American pouf book tour. the book also includes techniques to create stylish fashion accessories like scarves, as well as fun projects to make with your kids. All you need is yarn and your own two hands (literally) to create a cozy cabled blanket, a pom-pom trimmed hat, a pouf for your living room, and plenty of other adorable items. you can find kits for the poufs and signed copies of Knitting Without Needles in anne’s shop.
You might know Anne from her beautiful blog flax and twine, but she’s also a designer of craft, DIY, knit, and crochet patterns, as well as a freelance contributor for Martha Stewart and her site is part of the “12 Months of Martha” team of bloggers selected by Martha Stewart’s craft department. Her projects have been published on countless blogs including Design*Sponge, Design Mom, and Apartment Therapy. Anne also teaches knitting classes at local yarn stores, at craft workshop spaces, and at art retreats nationwide, and online at Creativebug and at Craftsy. Visit flax and twine and follow her on Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest as @flaxandtwine.
i used to try and have an apartment that was nothing but streamline, very committed mid-century modern. but i just couldn’t hack the discipline involved to have everything ‘by the book’ mid-century. i like too many eras of furniture design to be tied down to just one, and while i utterly admire anyone who can keep a home with a clean, strictly modern manner, it’s just a tad too austere for me — the “collector of odds and ends”. that’s why i was drawn to these rooms — they’ve got that mid-century modern vibe, but with a playful, eclectic spin, achieved by adding pops of great color; plants, whimsical artwork, and unique textiles. just a bit of fun with mid-century modern.
Top to bottom, left to right:
- A crisp, light-flooded residence, photographed by Casey Dunn
- Cheering for Kebei Li’s ingenious student project to become a reality!
- Impeccable styling by Riikka Kantinkoski for Cooee Design
- Pure and graceful garment construction from Kaarem
- Exquisitely clean-cut drawing pads from ITO Bindery of Japan
This is quite a clever idea I found over on IKEA. They invited blogger Agnes Hammar of Hej Regina to join them in their idea lab and she shared her ideas to freshen up IKEA furniture using a bit of colorful paint. Instead of replacing furniture you tire of, Agnes gave pieces new life by painting background scenarios on the walls. We don’t necessarily need to fix the furniture – maybe we just need to freshen up what’s around it instead.
I love the shapes behind the shelving — it adds so much personality and dimension to a very ordinary space. Agnes says you “can skip the classic headboard and frame in your bed with some mountains instead. Tape makes it easy to get nice & straight lines!” Great and inexpensive ideas with just a little paint and ingenuity.
• Photography by IKEA.
In search of a Kelly Green pillow for my space, I was lucky to discover our next unexpected guest, Amira Marion. I had been browsing the Steven Alan home site and was coveting a black and cream tasseled Antigua pillow when I noticed a link to the designer in the listing: Archive New York. The link revealed a beautiful collection of pillows in various styles and colors—I loved them all but ended up gravitating towards the black one I had first seen. As a big supporter of all makers, I bought the pillow direct from the designer, Amira. She wrote me an email to thank me for the purchase and somehow we discussed upcoming colors for her new collection. I asked her if she had something lined up in the green I was looking for. She didn’t but kindly offered to look into making me a custom one if I wasn’t in a rush. Wow, who does that?!! Already I adored this woman.
Last week I was in NYC and decided to pay Amira a visit at her home studio in Brooklyn’s Williamsburg. Originally from Ann Arbor, Michigan, she studied fashion at Parsons School of Design and continued to live in Manhattan for many years. She took a year break to live in Paris in between that time and is now happily settled in Brooklyn. Her love for textiles started at an early age—she grew up in a home full of Guatemalan textiles collected by her parents during trips there in the 1970s. She continued that tradition and started her own home textile collection Archive New York in 2014.
How did you get further into textiles?
When I was studying fashion design I started to learn all about textiles. I took a class and it was a pure obsession from there. I would do extra work research, find a printer, design prints and have them printed onto my fabric for my projects. I was crazy!
Tell us more about Guatemalan weaving.
It is one of the richest countries for weaving in the world. The variety is immense! Each village makes different motifs and has their own special techniques so there are so many cool things you can make! I use to think I could work in a new country every year, but everytime I go to Guatemala I find something completely new and want to dive full force into that. I have just discovered the tip of the iceberg.
Tell us a bit about the collective of artisans you work with.
Because my designs are based on the traditional textile, my idea is to work with as many different locations as possible in Guatemala because the techniques vary so much geographically. I only make traditional designs, and maybe change the colors. I am now working with artisans in the villages of Nahuala, San Juan La Laguna, Santiago Atitlan, Chichicastenango, Alotenango, Momostenango, Nebaj and Xela! I want to work with every village! That’s a little life goal. There are over 100 more villages with their own special designs, though some villages no longer have weavers anymore or wear the traditional clothing.
Your home is also your studio. How do you separate the two and stay focused, motivated?
If I have a to-do list I always motivate to get that done. I really love working from home! I can take a lunch break and go for a jog or stay in my PJs all day. It probably helps that I don’t have a TV!
A few things about your neighborhood that make you call it home.
All of the great restaurants and bars within a couple block radius, the great roof we have with a view, all of the little Italian bakeries and food shops, like the fresh pasta shop Savino’s. You pick your noodle shape and they will crank out the dough for you! Plus we live a half a block from the subway, so you can’t beat that in the winter months.
Where do you go for inspiration in the city?
Definitely museums and galleries. I am always checking out what exhibits are happening. The Met and the MoMa are obvious but really amazing, and the Brooklyn Museum is maybe my favorite. I love how they curate objects together, putting an african mask next to some french pottery and making it feel natural.
Is there another talent you’d like to master?
Coding. That would be so useful. I am always calling my friend Anthony for help and I feel so bad! If I had been born 10 years earlier I would have been smart and studied that instead of fashion!
Pick a place, any place…where would you go and why?
I am a big traveler and want to go everywhere so this is difficult. I really want to visit Japan! The Japanese have a top notch aesthetic sensibility and a rich textile history. The indigo and boro alone would be worth the trip. Also, I would stock up on desk accessories and stickers.
What’s on your current playlist?
I love old music! I am very out of date. Lately I have been getting really into Nigerian funk from the 70s and other African music like Ebo Taylor and Fela Kuti and William Onyeabor. I also really love Brazilian jazz, like Astrud Gilberto, Stan Getz and the more psychedelic stuff Os Mutantes.
The most coveted piece in your home studio and why?
The textile on the wall from San Mateo Ixtatan. It’s fully embroidered on the front and back. I have not found one as good as that one so I am very glad I bought it when I did! Also our wooden Cambridge speakers. I used to listen to music on my computer speakers and I realize now what a horrible idea that was.
Designers, artists and makers you’re currently admiring.
BTW Ceramics: This is my friend Brooke’s collection. I have her ceramics all over my apartment, which you can probably spot in the photos. I can’t get enough!!! It’s a problem. She makes everything by hand. I love her her crazy multicolored mugs and planters.
Ilana Kohn: This year I have been wearing almost exclusively her clothing. Aside from her great prints, the clothes are insanely comfortable. Once you check out her jumpsuit collection, you can’t turn back.
Ora-C: Caroline, the designer and owner, is a friend of mine, too. She makes all of her gorgeous jewelry by hand in her Montreal studio. The colors and the tassels are perfect. I wore my new earrings from her last week and everyone kept asking me for her information. She just launched, so be the first to know.
Parked in Paradise: My other favorite jewelry collection. They are the cutest couple, Gen and Hal, and they make the most badass silver and brass rings, like nothing I had ever seen before.
Where can we find your pillows?
Other than my website you can find my stuff at a handful of boutiques, such as Calypso, Steven Alan Home in Brooklyn, Concrete + Water and a handful of new stores shipping in November.
What are some of your recent and upcoming projects?
I have had a couple breakthroughs in the past month. I sourced some gorgeous silk threads, like the kind they used to use in Guatemala in the 50s and before, so I am making some super special styles. The other thing on my horizon is a collection of rugs! There is one place in Guatemala that makes these wool shaggy rugs that are incredibly soft. Stay tuned…
• all photography by leslie santarina.