We met the extraordinairy Jill Draper at Vogue Knitting Chicago back in October and we couldn't think of a better maker to highlight during our learn to knit month. Read on!
My name is Jill Draper but you may know me as the one that Makes Stuff. My DIY weapons of choice are yarn & needles mainly. But I love to make, and don't limit it to knitting, in fact I love a challenge. With pretty much no knowledge of electronics I have a kit to make a mini guitar amp sitting on my drafting table at the moment. When I'm looking for inspiration, I flip through my collection of art books, vintage encyclopedias or old National Geographic magazines. If that still hasn’t knocked me out of my rut I get out and take a walk or a bike ride, just a change of scenery sometimes is all I need.
After a long day of making things I like to COOK, I cook dinner nearly every night. Being in the kitchen is really relaxing for me, and the perfect escape from the studio but it still allows room for lots of creativity and improvisation. I got started making when I was born? No, it had to be after that but probably not much after. I come from a long line of DIYers and can’t really remember not making. When I think about starting a new project I am exhilarated! I love thinking about new projects, sketching & gathering materials, the promise of something not started is always thrilling!
The best part about running my own business is eating lunch most days with the person I love. A close second is having successes or failures lie squarely on my shoulders, there is something equal parts thrilling and terrifying in knowing it’s pretty much down to you to make it work or not. My advice to anyone looking to start their own business is be prepared to work harder than you ever have and (probably at least at first) for way less money. Provide the kind of customer service you wish every company had. If I wasn't running Jill Draper Makes Stuff I would love to be an archaeologist or working to make displays in a Natural History museum. Not that I am anywhere near qualified for either of these things but I love artifacts and as a kid pictured my future in a dusty museum basement (or sometimes punching Nazis a la Indiana Jones )
If I ever stop creating you’ll find me in the ground. Even if I won millions of dollars and never had to work again I’d still be creating, even if it was just for me. I don’t spend a lot of “idle” time my hands almost always have something in them.
The movie that can cheer me out of any bad mood is You Can’t Take it With You, it’s “Capracorn” but it is beyond sweet and always a mood lifter.
My favorite words are home, handmade and explore. My least favorite words are impossible and acrylic
My favorite artists/designers/makers are both ones that I know and people I admire from afar. I own a few Hodge Podge Farm dresses and wear them constantly, you can also often find me wearing one of my pairs of Fairy Steps shoes. In the art world there are so many artists that I adore, the two working artists I’m most moved by recently are Mark Hogancamp & Walton Ford.
My favorite thing about making is being able to have an idea in my head, move it to paper and then to fruition. To hold a thing in your hand that didn’t exist until you made it is pretty amazing. To me, DIY means finding solutions and improvising along the way of making something. It informs you about the process of making and sometimes gives you insight on yourself. I love that the popularity “making” has had such an enormous resurgence and it isn’t out of pure necessity that people are making things by hand again. I think when you make a “thing” any thing, even once, it gives you so much respect for that and the process that went into it, the value of it is intrinsically deeper than the same sort of “thing” bought at a store.
I'm excited about the Maker movement/revolution because I think Western society for a long time was moving away from small, slow, local production and I think it had a detrimental effect on local economies, the environment and the way we feel about the things that surround us. I feel like the Maker movement is bringing people closer again to what they consume which makes things less disposable, more thoughtfully purchased and used. The things around us start to have value again and not in a monetary sense but in a value of use.
This year I plan to continue working with local farms and mills to bring even more of my yarn as close to home as possible. On the home front I plan to take a little more time for me, leave some room in my schedule for “playing”, trying new things that have nothing to do with business and are just for the sheer enjoyment of them.
Thanks Jill, what an inspiration you are!
[photography courtesy of Jill Draper]