In May, NBCUniversal bought Denver-based online platform Craftsy, which offers video tutorials on crafts, such as knitting and quilting, for about $230 million. The sale completed Craftsy’s rise from small startup to e-commerce mainstay—and underscored the fact that crafting isn’t just for DIY hobbyists anymore. A new generation of makers has emerged, with many of them choosing fiber as their medium.
Anyone who loved the arts and crafts activities at summer camp knows that the ancient art of feeding one thread over, under, and around another thread on a loom isn’t as easy as it sounds.
The Modern Pioneer: In 2015, inspired by the social aspect of ancient weaving circles (women met up regularly to chat and work), Fort Collins resident Sarah Neubert created the Weaving Kind. The website provides weavers with resources, tips, and a place to show support for each other’s work, which can range from artistic wall hangings (see the previous page) to functional textiles like blankets.
Try It: Meet other weavers and learn from experts such as Neil Goss and Meghan Shimek at the Weaving Kind Makerie retreat (October 19 to 22; $1,295) at the Colorado Chautauqua in Boulder.
2. Arm Knitting
Arm knitters use their bodies as tools instead of needles, knotting yarn around one arm and then looping their hands over and under the fibers. The extra-large stitches mean projects that would have taken several weeks with traditional knitting are done in a matter of hours.
The Modern Pioneer: When Denver craft blogger Anne Weil realized her preschool-age kids didn’t have the fine motor skills—or patience—required to knit with needles, she developed new patterns for (and thus popularized) this tools-free alternative.
Try It: On October 15, Weil will teach a cowl-making class ($40) at Fancy Tiger Crafts
3. Wet Felting
Before it can be used in knitting projects, yarn begins as roving (untreated wool that has been shorn, washed, and combed). Traditionally, the roving is spun into yarn, but placing the fibers in hot water and then immediately into cold water (a labor-intensive process known as wet felting) ensures they stay in tighter strands.
The Modern Pioneer: As a fashion buyer in London from 2011 to 2016, Camille McMurry saw a huge increase in demand for chunky knit products. Her two-year-old Denver companies, Broadwick Fibers and Carnaby Yarn Co., now furnish the supply—for the public instead of luxury brands. The unusual practice of wet felting yarn allows McMurry to create ultrathick strands of merino wool that you can’t typically find in stores.
Try It: Take one of McMurry’s blanket workshops ($280) at Fancy Tiger Crafts on November 11.
Every Little House on the Prairie fan is familiar with the art of stitching squares of cloth into larger and larger patterns until the piece of fabric is big enough to use as a blanket.
The Modern Pioneers: Unlike traditional quilters, who created symmetrical designs, the 40-plus members of the Denver Metro Modern Quilt Guild embrace off-kilter layouts and improvisation. (While designing a recent project, one guild member rolled a die to randomly determine the fabric swatches she’d use.)
See It: From October 23 to January 25, the guild will display 38 original quilts at the Rocky Mountain Quilt Museum ($4 to $8, with free admission for children under six) in its How New Is Modern? exhibition. (Bonus: 5280 articles editor Natasha Gardner will have two quilts in the show.)