Janine M. Kahn is the digital editorial generalist you are looking for. She is a leader of teams, driver of projects, launcher of sites and campaigns. She is a top woman in media (at least according to FOLIO and Min), an award-winning wordsmith and mistress of multiple mediums.

Behind the Brand: Knotwerk

In the summer of 2016, I took a macrame class from Emily Katz (known to many as the woman leading the modern macrame movement). A dozen or so of us gathered in her light-filled studio, tucked inside a warehouse in Portland's Eliot neighborhood. We sipped La Croix, nibbled on dainty bites, and learned how to make a few variations of a single knot. Then we were set loose to create a small tapestry of our own design on a wooden dowel.

My first piece was clumsy and far from inspired. I took it home, and my husband looked at it and failed spectacularly at being kind. I hung it on a nail in our living room to taunt him and didn't pay it too much attention in the weeks that followed.

Then the nightmare that was the November election came. My anxiety needed an outlet and the memory of the calm that came with making the same knot over and over had me digging up the small bundle of rope I'd purchased as I left Katz's studio. I put on some music, lit some candles, and felt like some weird, witchy goddess as I fell into the rhythm of making. The spell was broken when I discovered I had concocted another shitty piece. "Is this stuff going to be all over the house?" asked my dear, sweet husband. 

At this point, I would like to cue the movie-style montage that ensued; the one where the bumbling novice studies the work of others, learns a variety of knots and practices nightly, experiments with ropes and textures and somehow manages to develop a voice and a style.

I sold my first piece quite by accident. I'd posted a photo of a headboard-sized tapestry I had created for our bedroom on a local community app, attached to a request for any driftwood neighbors had laying around. A woman sent me a private message and asked if I sold my work. "Well," I thought, "I do now!"

"You should open a shop," she told me as she exited my home with the piece in tow.  I promised her I would. 

Business cards for Knotwerk.

Business cards for Knotwerk.

I'd been a manager of brands for most of my career but had never had the opportunity to create my own. At first, I toyed with "Moxie Macrame," ever a lover of alliteration and my dog (Mr. Moxie). But after I purchased the domain name and built out the etsy shop, something about it seemed trite. I'd taken to using the word "knotwork" interchangeably with macrame, and felt it rolled pleasingly off the tongue. Of course, the domain for that was taken. But, what if...

Knotwork. Not work. Not werk. Knotwerk

A thank you card sent out alongside early Knotwerk orders.

A thank you card sent out alongside early Knotwerk orders.

Minutes later, Knotwerk.com was mine. I built a Pattern site (one of etsy's offerings for crafters who want something beyond the regular shop experience), linked up the domain, and set to work designing a logo, a tagline, and a vibe.

My little brand continues to be a work in progress (if it's of interest, you can follow along on instagram), but it has turned out to be a solid #sidehustle and creative outlet. Two weekends back, I opened my first art show, TRUE NORTH, at a local venue, and my work is slated to be the backdrop for a fashion shoot and perhaps an upcoming storefront display. I've started teaching small classes from my home studio, and complete custom commissions in my spare time. It's work, and yet not work. Knotwerk. 

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