Indie Designer Spotlight: Two of Wands
Two of Wands was founded in 2014 by indie designer Alexandra Tavel, to showcase her modern and beautiful crochet and knitwear. She was kind enough to answer a few questions for us. We hope you enjoy this glimpse into her wonderful world as much as we did.
Who taught you how to crochet? Can you remember the first time you picked up a hook or needle and started stitching?
I actually learned to knit as a child and only in the last five or so years taught myself to crochet. Growing up my mom and grandma were incredible knitters and every year around the holidays they’d teach me the basics so I could make gifts. Of course throughout the year I would put my needles down and forget the process and have to be re-taught come November.
Then about 10 years ago I started seeing more and more modern knitwear emerging and I got inspired and really into knitting and designing my own garments and accessories. But as I learned more about yarn crafts I started to feel a little limited with knitting. Crochet allows for a lot more imaginative and less structured work because it can be so free-form. So in 2011 while on a vacation to Costa Rica with my boyfriend, I brought along a crochet book and some hooks and yarn and set off determined to teach myself while I was there and come back after the week as a crocheter.
I was able to learn the basics that week and have been growing my skills ever since. I like to write easy-intermediate patterns with a modern aesthetic because I think with the resurgence of knitting and crocheting lately with a younger audience, it’s important to cater to their busy lifestyles. Unless you have some serious time on your hands, working up a lace-weight shawl is not something any of my friends are interested in doing. So even though my crochet skills are not as advanced as my knitting skills, I’m still able to design simple but sophisticated items using someone basic stitches. It’s exciting to learn as I design and to get feedback from my customers which helps me enhance my skills as a pattern-writer as well.
Do you have any memories of crocheting with someone important to you, or any special projects that you or someone else made that you hold dear?
Because crocheting is so much faster than knitting, I think a lot of new crafters are drawn to it when given the choice of the two. I’ve met so many talented young designers in the knitwear community and many of them are strictly crocheters. One of these lovely ladies is the crazy cool yarn bomber London Kaye. A couple of summers ago I contributed to a yarn bomb she did in NYC in collaboration with Lion Brand Yarn, and it was so cool to see a little swatch of something I crocheted up on a fence in Soho as part of her design. I’m always inspired by the different applications of crochet as an art form!
Have you taught anyone to knot or crochet, and if so can you share what it’s like to pass on the craft?
Yes! I teach beginner knitting and crochet classes in NYC and I’ve taught most of my friends how to do one or the other. When I find something I love I always want to share it with others, and crochet is no exception. Creating something with your own two hands is a magical feeling and being able to pass that skill and feeling along is amazing. One of the reasons I got into pattern writing rather than just selling finished knitwear is because I enjoyed that feeling so much that I wanted others to know it and feel it as well. There’s nothing better than talking to a customer who is so proud of something that they’ve made using one of my patterns. These are pieces that hold such a power and energy to them that something you buy off of a shelf could never compare. They are pieces you will take better care of, feel a certain confidence while wearing, and pass down to future generations.
When did you decide to turn your hobby into a career?
My mom is an artist and I grew up making all sorts of things. We always had paint, clay, jewelry supplies, yarn, fabric, and pretty much anything else you can imagine on hand in case inspiration were to strike. I ended up studying fashion design and costume construction technology at college, but as soon as I graduated I started working in the non-profit world and stayed there for eight years. I’m so lucky to have been able to travel all over the world on both work and personal trips, and I always draw inspiration from the different countries I’ve visited and the local artisans who create such unique pieces in their communities. It was on one of my travels that the Two of Wands label was solidified.
In 2013 I climbed to the top of Mount Kilimanjaro, and when I reached the other side I met a woman who offered to read my tarot cards. The Two of Wands was drawn and my future was set in motion. This card is focused on taking the path of discovery and creativity, taking your ideas and desires and turning them into a solid plan for success. It is about stepping into that scary but exciting unknown and believing that you have the potential to shine. The name represents energy, spirituality, inspiration, creativity, ambition and expansion. I had been wanting to get back to my creative roots, and this gave me the push that I needed. Shortly after I launched my knitwear business and I’ve been rolling with it ever since! I named the company after that tarot card, but before I even told anyone the story behind it, a lot of people assumed the name had something two do with two wands representing knitting needles. I love that so much and now the name has a double meaning to me.