TALKING (WITCH)CRAFT WITH ANA CAMPOS
We got a little one-on-one time with Ana Campos, owner of Circle of Stitches, who will be putting the craft back in witchcraft in her four-part workshops series coming up in January and February at our Salem, MA shop. Catch up with her and learn what it’s like to be a professional knitter and community crafter.
Let’s start off easy: What do you do in Salem and what drew you here?
What do I do in Salem? I knit things! I opened Circle of Stitches, my knitting store, at the beginning of 2015.
I originally moved to Salem in 2009 hoping to find a more spiritual and alternative community. It was a little disappointing to find how much of it is commercialized and how much the actual spiritualism has, sort of, fallen away.
So, part of my excitement with Erica and HausWitch is seeing a someone who is equally excited to bring that back and I’m interested in helping that, I guess.
You said you knit, but are there other crafts you’re drawn to?
I’m interested in all artistic pursuits. I have a background in oil painting, I’ve been transitioning to acrylic painting and experimented with all sorts of stuff. I’ve done a little bit of sculpture—didn’t really turn out to be my thing, but as far as fiber arts—I love all of it. From knitting, to weaving and embroidery, I just enjoy handcrafts. They’re a good way to connect, whether you’re connecting to spirituality, using them to focus, or in meditation.
How do you feel fiber art differs from some other forms of craft? Do you feel like you use a different kind of energy?
I think that any handwork can be a form of ritual, if you think about ritual in a general sense and the technologies and themes you see over and over again in spirituality there’s a lot of repetition, whether it be chanting, drumming, or other repetitive motion. The reason that is, is because it triggers an alpha state, where you’re relaxed and at peace. Handwork does that same thing with repetitive motions, so it’s a way to perform ritual on a very small scale and get into that altered brain-space.
But, even if you don’t want to think of it in terms of spirituality, there’s a lot of research that shows that knitting and other stitchwork can aid in holding off Alzheimer’s, because your brain is working on pattern recognition. There are benefits to it, even if you’re not interested in the more spiritual component of it.
Why don’t you take us through some of the crafts you’ll be teaching here, at HausWitch, so everyone can start shooting for that ‘alpha state.’
I’m doing a series of classes, the first one on handmade lotions and salves. It’s the only one that’s not fiber-oriented, and teaches you how to make your own lotions at home. Which means you know for a fact they don’t include toxic chemicals, so there’s health benefits in that sense. There’s two levels to it: you know that you’re not putting toxic things into your body and you get to pick the herbs and the oils that go into it, so you can choose to put magical intent if you’d like.
The other classes that I’m teaching are fiber-oriented: tapestry weaving, embroidery, and hand-sewn spell dolls. They explore different ways to use fiber crafts to connect to a spiritual practice and ritual.
On spell dolls…I shouldn’t be confusing these with voodoo dolls, right?
I would say that voodoo dolls, are a subset of spell dolls. You can use spell dolls for all sorts of things. The most basic one, being to create a doll that’s a representation of yourself and you use that for your spell work. For instance, you could put that doll on your altar and use it to draw the things that you’re looking for to you.
So you might put a couple chunks of black tourmaline around it if you feel like you need protection from negative energy?
Right, but you can also make a spell doll with a specific intent in mind: you can make a prosperity doll, love doll, etcetera. But no, I’m not going to be getting into the voodoo. We’re focusing on the positive uses for spell dolls.
In terms of the actual fibers that you use for any of these crafts, do you think it matters what sort of materials you use?
From a strictly crafting perspective, synthetic materials tend to not work as nicely. The fibers just don’t react the same way. Like in knitting: If you’re knitting something out of wool instead of acrylic, it’s going to behave very differently. From that perspective, I prefer more natural fibers.
In terms of using fibers for a more ritualistic intent, I think it depends on your personal feelings about it, but I would, again, push towards the more natural fibers. I’d rather have a wooden wand than a plastic wand and I’d rather be embroidering on pure cotton as opposed to polyester.
Ew, polyester. I also have a visceral reaction to polyester. Do you have specific places that you prefer to craft, or do you just take with you everywhere? Or both?
Well, I do just take it with me everywhere [holds up knitting], obviously. For me it’s a way to have an element of comfort that I get to take with me wherever I go.
At my store we have a seating area where we encourage people to come in and craft. I think that it’s a good catalyst for community and that’s what I try and focus on. But it’s definitely still related to my idea of ‘home.’
- Choosing a selection results in a full page refresh.
- Press the space key then arrow keys to make a selection.