Teacher Corner: Benjamin Krudwig on ‘Bridging the Gap’
By: TNNA Editor
Cleveland is around the corner and we cannot wait for you to experience the 2019 TNNA NeedleArts Summer Trade Show. What better way to get ready than by getting to know more about your expert teachers themselves? We connected with Benjamin Krudwig, who will lead “The Millennial Myth” on Wednesday, June 19 and “Woven Wall Hangings” on Friday, June 21. A one-time “Featured Seller” on Etsy, Krudwig is a proficient weaver and spinner who never misses an opportunity to help someone hone their craft. Read on to learn more about this first-time teacher.
TNNA: Can you share with TNNA readers how you began your needlearts journey and how you got to where you are now?
Benjamin Krudwig (BK): While I have always been a crafty person, my needlearts story begins in high school. I was looking for a scarf to complete a Halloween costume, but couldn’t find the right one. So, I asked one of my sisters to teach me how to knit in order to make it myself. With the aid of knitting needles and some knitting looms, I quickly became the “hat guy” at school and made a few things for friends and family. I dropped knitting when I went to college, but shortly into my sophomore year, I picked up a crochet hook and taught myself how to crochet. This proved to be an excellent way to manage test anxiety. At that time, I opened up a relatively successful Etsy store. Some of my sales even went to paying for my school books.
Once I graduated in 2012, I found myself in the middle of one of the worst job markets in decades and needed a job. Along came a shipping position at Schacht Spindle Company! Within a week, I bought a Cricket Loom and wove two scarves. Within a month, I borrowed a Sidekick Spinning Wheel and learned how to spin. Now, I handle the marketing and advertising, and produce much of the content on the Schacht website. I also love teaching rigid heddle weaving and tapestry weaving on little looms!
TNNA: What should attendees expect to learn from your upcoming classes at #TNNASummer19?
BK: My first class, “The Millennial Myth,” is near and dear to my heart, as I have come face-to-face with mischaracterizations of my generation time and again. These myths and assumptions only cause divisiveness and confusion. The last few years have been somewhat harrowing in our industry; we’ve witnessed a huge wave of retirements, shops and brands shutting down or getting acquired, and huge shifts in the economic landscape. To ensure the longevity of this industry, we need to attract and retain millennials as customers, employees and business owners. My goal with this class is to bridge the gap between generations and illuminate the ways we can work together to build a stronger, more diverse community.
In my “Woven Wall Hangings” class, we will explore the basics of weaving on little looms and how to pump up the texture! This trend is still hot, and is a great way to get new people in the doors —and keep them there!
TNNA: Is there a specific creative exercise you partake in that really motivates or inspires you? Has anyone else’s work ever inspired your own?
BK: I’ve been reading a book called The Artist’s Way, which has been a real eye-opener. Every day, I write three pages of “free writing.” [I write] whatever is on my mind at the time, any issues I may be wrestling with or I’ll use one of the weekly prompts to fire up my inspiration. Also, I love going to art museums, walking around in nature and listening to great music.
TNNA: What’s something you wish you had known getting started that you’ve since learned? And, what advice would you give to someone wanting to get involved in the needlearts community?
BK: First, I wish I had known how helpful classes are in the learning process. As a teacher now, I still learn something new every time I teach my classes. The exchange of information is absolutely invaluable!
I have two pieces of advice for people getting involved:
- Find a class local to you. You’ll meet friends and get a more hands-on education than you can online or from a DVD.
- Learn the rules — be fearless — then break the rules. What I love most about this industry is how much innovation happens. This generally happens when rules are broken and boundaries are pushed.
TNNA: Whether knitting, crocheting, spinning or weaving — is there a process you go through when creating something new? What is your favorite thing to create?
BK: I sketch everything out. Whether it’s a rough sketch or a super detailed one, I find it super helpful. First off, I can iterate ad infinitum until I find a silhouette or color scheme I like. My favorite thing to create is handwoven fashion. There is nothing quite like using handwoven fabric to make fashionable garments and accessories.
TNNA: Is there anything else you would like to add or comment on?
BK: I think that we are living and working in a fascinating (and overdue) time in our industry. Division seems to be pushing and pulling on our community and is cracking it open wide, exposing everything that we need to work on and fix. I think it’s about time that we take a hard look at ourselves, our privileges, our assumptions and open our arms to the entire community of fiber folk. If we can’t come together as a community and really hear and see each other, and then take action to change and adapt, then who are we? I look forward to the upcoming discussions on diversity and inclusion and will work towards being the change I wish to see in the world.
You can find Benjamin’s blog and patterns as well as his class schedules and tutorials on BenjaminKrudwig.com. Be sure to check out the full class schedule for #TNNASummer19 and register to join us at the Huntington Convention Center of Cleveland, June 19–23.