Contributor Spotlight / FOREST / Jennifer Berg
Today we're excited to bring you an interview with Making No. 8 / FOREST contributor Jennifer Berg, @native.knitter. Jennifer is Navajo and grew up on the Navajo reservation near the New Mexico/Arizona border. She is a knitwear designer and teacher based in New Mexico, creating beautiful things inspired by the culture and the land where she grew up and lives. Jennifer contributed the stunning Eye Catcher Hat to FOREST, which has already proven to be well-loved among the Making community!
What is your craft, and how did you get started?
I knit! I started knitting six years ago when my good friend Tressa pushed me to challenge myself further in crafting, and I began knitting. I made basic hats and soon gained the confidence to read patterns.
How would you describe your aesthetic and style?
My aesthetic is simple. I love clean lines and very neutral tones. I love simplicity and strive to incorporate my Navajo culture/surrounding landscapes into this aesthetic.
What made you want to design patterns?
A year ago, I joined the knitting community through Instagram and started my Native.Knitter account. I was realizing while scrolling through the community, that there was a lack of Native American representation. I felt inspired to change this and began sketching and working on my own designs.
What's currently inspiring you?
Currently, I am taking so much inspiration from other native designers and artists such as Thunder Voice Hat Co., B. Yellowtail, and I recently found Jared Tso, who is a 4th generation potter. I actively look for inspiration outside of my own medium because every type of art can be inspiring.
Do you have other passions and hobbies?
Other passions of mine are hiking. Whenever I have a mental block, taking a walk or hike outside with some fresh air always resets my brain. Like I said, I'm inspired by the landscapes that surround me. I'm blessed to live in a city where I can drive 10 minutes to either the mountains, the Rio Grande, the volcanoes, or the deserts near the reservations.
What's your favorite material to work with, and why?
I love working with wool or wool mixtures. I love the feel grit wool has. I grew up with sheep and love the smell of wool too. Because I love colorwork, wool sticks and holds together so differently than other fibers.
Tell us about a challenge in your making that you've overcome.
Over the past couple months I have had to slow down, with being pregnant and balancing my time with my family, my "get after it" mentality has taken a hit and forced me to relax. Slowing down and taking time has greatly helped my design process. The industry feels very quick these days, and I want to make sure that I treat "slow fashion" as slow fashion. I take time to sketch and develop my thoughts before I even pick up my needles and yarn now.
If you could tell yourself something back when you first started creating, what would it be?
I would tell myself to take more time to further research, read, and learn as much as I could about the craft before publishing any patterns. I have been learning as I've been developing patterns, which has ended up working out, but I wish I had been more confident from the start.
Has your craft changed any of your perspectives on life?
I have learned that I have a voice for my people. I can use my craft to shed some light on a people who are often forgotten or misunderstood. I feel more connected with my culture and want others to join me on this journey of keeping it alive.
Why do you create & what do you hope to express with the things you make?
Firstly, I create because I adore it. It brings me so much joy, and secondly, I create because it's an amazing way to express myself. I feel so inspired most days and driven, which I love. It gives me the ability to help others, keeps me mentally healthy, and also has given me so much to be proud of. I can generally be hard on myself, but creating something from start to finish and wearing it, has brought me a sense of pride.
What is one of your favorite things about the Eye Catcher Hat you designed in FOREST?
My favorite thing about the Eye Catcher Hat is the illusion within the hat. I love that it draws your eye throughout the lines and resembles the Navajo Eye Dazzler rug found in my childhood home.
Thank you, Jennifer, for taking some time to share a little bit about yourself and your craft. We adore your work and are excited to see what you have planned for the future.
We hope the community enjoyed this interview with one of our contributors from FOREST. Keep an eye out for future contributor interviews!