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CRAFT: Make Space for Crafting

Shannon Okey of knitgrrl recently opened her own Knitgrrl Studio this summer in Lakewood, Ohio where she transformed this former screw factory into her fibery wonderland. Shannon not only works on her projects in this space but she also teaches workshops here. (For those of you outside the area, check out the schedule of online classes at Knitgrrl Studio.)
Read on after the jump for more photos, a special video tour, and a Q&A with Shannon!


Knitgrrl Felt
CRAFT: What kinds of crafts do you do?
Shannon: I’m primarily a knitter and feltmaker, with a bad fabric habit. (Current number of pieced quilts waiting for my attention is 2.)
CRAFT: Where do you craft?
Shannon: I alternate between home and Knitgrrl Studio, my new business which opened this summer. The one problem with the studio is that I haven’t managed to find a really knitting-appropriate chair yet. My desk chair is fine but it’s not as comfy as the couch at home!
Knitgrrl Wickerbaskets
CRAFT: How do you keep all your craft supplies organized
Shannon: Containers, containers, containers. I’m a big fan of the large tubs with lids, especially for yarn and fabric. I have two very devious cats who have figured out how to open drawers and other types of storage, which leads to abstract yarn art around the dining room table legs. I also have a lot of bookcases. In the studio, one full wall is slatwall, the kind you see in retail stores. It makes it very easy to hang hooks and shelf brackets in any configuration that works for you.
CRAFT: How do you motivate yourself to keep your space organized?
Shannon: Generally, knowing someone will be visiting the space does it for me, it’s my Inner Housewife Monologue at work. I don’t want people to think I’m messy even if I often am (especially when I have more than one big project going at once)!
Knitgrrl Ikea
CRAFT: What’s one organization tip/tool/trick you swear by?
Shannon: For lots of smaller items, I’ve become super-fond of fabric cubes (Lexie Barnes has some amazing ones, and if I lived closer to an IKEA, I’d buy a ton of their zippered ones that fold down flat when you’re not using them). Even better if they have integrated handles, you can just throw everything you need for one project or project type in it and cart it around as needed. The square wicker IKEA baskets are also cheap and good for this. But the one thing people always love is how I use IKEA plastic bag organizers to hold yarn. You can hang them on a wall, like I’ve done here [bottom right], or put them flat on a table — we stumbled on these when Cecily and I were teaching at Maker Faire a few years ago. They’re fantastic for keeping your yarn organized while you’re knitting something multicolored, you can pull separate color strands out through the holes.
Knitgrrl Windows
CRAFT: Describe your dream workspace.
Shannon: I already have it! It took a little work to clean it up (it is an old factory building, after all), but it’s got just the right mix of industrial/crafty along with sufficient space to spread out (giant desk, 4×8′ cutting table, walls of shelving). The only thing I really need to improve is the lighting in the winter — it’s intensely sunny and bright all summer, since the giant 20 feet wide windows face west, but winter afternoons are dark. That, and I plan to put in a sink so I don’t have to trudge down the hall as much whenever I need water.
What’s not to like? I mean, look at these windows! They change color depending on the time of day, and if you need to stare off into space and daydream a bit to problem-solve, you can’t help but be inspired.
CRAFT: How does the way your craft space is organized affect your crafting/creativity?
Shannon: Being able to see more of my materials at once lets me juxtapose them in my head more easily — in my rarely-used basement studio space at home, everything’s packed up in tubs to keep the cats out. At Knitgrrl Studio, I can spread things out on my giant table and let them “marinate” together for a while so I can figure out how best to use them.

Check out the video walk through of the Knitgrrl Studio space and more photos.


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