In a world mostly concerned with getting product to market quickly, there are some who still take the time to create something by hand. Spinners, knitters and textile crafters continue to create beautiful and unique mittens, scarves and sweaters for sale.

Most crafters begin as a hobbyist before developing it into a business. Amanda Carrigan, a spinner, knitter and dyer of wool, has been working with textiles since she was a child. She realized the business potential of her work when more and more friends and family asked her to make pieces for them.

Carrigan works as a landscaper with Hansen Lawn and Gardens Ltd. in the spring, summer and fall. But when winter sets in she puts down her tools and picks up her knitting needles – essential items for a part-time business with textiles.

Developing a successful business selling handmade products seems unlikely with the increase of online shopping and machine-made products. Carrigan, like many others who sell handmade items, has not found this to be the case.

“It’s about finding the right audience,” she says.

Amanda Carrigan, like many crafters, works from home. She spins the wool into yarn and dyes it before beginning her projects. [Photo © Paige Kahkonen]
Carrigan learned to spin and knit from her mother and grandmother when she was a child. She spins using the wheel that was given to her when she graduated from high school. [Photo © Morgan Pépin]
After spinning the yarn, Carrigan moves to a rocking chair and begins knitting. From this vantage point Carrigan watches movies on her small vintage television as her hands mechanically move into familiar patterns. [Photo © Paige Kahkonen]

Carrigan is seen here working on a pair of socks intended for a loved one. It can take from a few hours to days to knit smaller items like socks, while larger pieces can take up to a month. [Photo © Morgan Pépin]
Carrigan knits confidently in the round, a common technique for making seamless socks. With years of experience and experimentation she can also make much more difficult pieces with complicated patterns. [Photo © Paige Kahkonen]
Carrigan’s cozy den offers several spots to craft. She often moves from the spinning wheel, to the rocking chair, to her couch. In a single year she will up to 50 pieces and sells 30 to 40 of them. [Photo © Morgan Pépin]

Carrigan happily retreats inside, saying that she looks forward to the winter months as a break to work on her textile projects. [Photo © Morgan Pépin]
Although trade fairs and craft shows are popular venues for handicrafts, Carrigan knows an online presence is beneficial. She uploads photos of her work to her Etsy page, where most of her sales happen. [Photo © Paige Kahkonen]
Carrigan sells dyed yarn and pieces she has knitted at shows. Her prices are based on the amounts set by other vendors and the price of materials. On each item, a business card is attached for customers to continue shopping after the show. [Photo © Morgan Pépin]
After years of knitting, spinning, and crafting for her own pleasure, Carrigan has created her own brand. Her Wayside Weeds and Wool booth can be found at popular craft shows in Ottawa. [Photo © Paige Kahkonen]