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Meet the artist: Haley McCarter

Haley is the twenty-something one-woman show behind the brand Wandered Goods. Wandered Goods is a Portland-based fiber and textile studio focused on creating heart-crafted home goods and accessories. Exploring a wide range of organic materials and natural dyes, Haley combines her unique creative vision with a dedication to sustainability and slow crafting. Wandered Goods is for those with a wild heart and a love for handmade, heart-crafted wares.

Haley came into my life when our family photographer shared some of her work on Instagram. I fell in love with a pair of her Wayward Hoop earrings, smashed buy, and have been a huge fan ever since!

Working together on Herbalist

So here's the scoop with Herbalist. Ever since the Early Sowing release in early 2020, knitters have been pleading for an adult version. But I didn't quite know what it wanted to be when it grew up! I'd been sitting on it for a few months when I found myself at House of A La Mode, with a fistful of speckly, squishy, skeins.

Heather from House of A La Mode (ever the enabler, and always right!) gave me some great advice about using speckles in cables - stop thinking of the yarn and the stitch pattern as being in competition with each other; look instead at what they create together. It blew my mind, but that's one of the reasons I admire her work so much! I bought what seemed intuitively like a reasonable amount of yarn, and went home and started crunching the numbers.

Seen front on and wearing a honeycomb cabled hand knit sweater, Haley wears a bold statement necklace. It's a brass triangle with three rose quartz cylinders dangling.
How about this glam rose quartz necklace? Photo - Three Fifteen Design

It wasn't a reasonable amount of yarn. Cables use a lot more yarn than stockinette, and it turned out I didn't have enough yarn to make my sample in my size. But, I did have enough to make a small sweater. A Haley-sized sweater. And Haley's vibe? PERFECT for this project. I already knew I'd want to commission some jewelry for the shoot - would she be willing to model?

We had SO MUCH fun working on this together! Haley's ideas for the jewelry were exactly right, and she captured the mood perfectly. She worked with Three Fifteen Design for photography - Rayvn is a branding expert, a photographer, and a knitter - so she expertly captured all the shots knitters want!

Pictured from behind, Haley lifts both arms to put her her hair up. She's wearing a cabled sweater and the picture shows the fabric at the underarms and sides.
Tip - when picking a pattern, make sure the designer includes some 'arms up' poses. Photo - Three Fifteen Design

A peek into her practice

Haley was generous enough to also do a little interview Q+A with me - and I hope you enjoy getting to know her as much as I have!

What’s the most meaningful part of your practice as an artist?

Honoring my inner child. I realized after running this business for almost a year now that everything I create, and everything I want to create, comes from visions I had as a child. My mother was a craft queen and always encouraged me to put my energy into tactile art. Whether it was jewelry making, clay creations, sewing, or videography - I was always doing something. Now at 22, I have rediscovered my childlike wonder and curiosity to explore any and all mediums that I can get my hands on, and lucky for me I have a whole business to fund it.

What are you most excited about making in the next twelve months?

In the next twelve months, I plan on introducing yoga mat bags with hand-dyed fabric as well as creating my largest piece yet, an 8ft x 8ft macrame wedding backdrop!

What advice would you give to someone who was shopping for jewelry on Etsy or Instagram?

Take your time. There are so many incredible, self-taught jewelers that one can discover on Etsy and Instagram and I think it’s really important to spend time getting to know their dreams, what they stand for, and the inspirations behind their crafts. You have SO much power with your dollar, so use it intentionally. There is usually a single PERSON, not a corporation, behind these small businesses/creators - each purchase truly makes their day and allows them to keep doing what they love.

Are there any IG accounts you find super inspiring that you think knitters, sewers, or makers might like?

@farmandfolk (quilting and farmlife)

@sugarmilk.studios (pottery & clay works)

@collectivehand (natural dye studio)

@sacredfem (crystal and spiritual badass)

@commune_calla_ (macrame artist, painter, dyed goods)

What’s the last book you read?

The last book I read was The Overstory by Richard Powers and I cannot recommend the book enough. Such a magical, emotional little book.

Note from Jen - YES! This book was deeply moving, and I second this recommendation wholeheartedly!

Your collections strongly honor seasonality. Can you tell us about that, and how makers could get started thinking about seasonal energy in their projects?

I love this question. I think it comes from my deep desire to live seasonally as well. I am very much into astrology and the energy of different zodiac seasons, which have inspired many previous projects. This summer I am feeling called to experiment with bright, rich colored stones, dyes, and materials, to create projects that have a “look at me!” kind of energy, while in the winter I really love creating art that nurtures our rebirth and hibernation processes.

What’s on deck for your next release?

TEXTILES! Bags! Color! I recently purchased my own sewing machine to begin producing textile work like yoga mat bags, jewelry tool rolls, and honestly anything else I can create. I have been wanting to experiment with natural dyes for a year now and summer 2021 is my time to just DO IT!

Anything else you’d like to share?

The next year is going to be all about experimenting for Wandered Goods. I hope to share my journeys in natural dyes, textiles, refined jewelry pieces, and big macrame projects with an emphasis on slow, intentional crafting. I'm hoping to focus on the story behind everything. Really, I just want to grow as much as possible in any medium I can!

Haley stands and faces the camera. She has a small build, and her handknit sweater grazes the top of her jeans. Her sweater has a honeycomb pattern on the body and stockinette sleeves.
Herbalist shown in size B, with 4.25" of positive ease. Photo - Three Fifteen Design

Go Further

Photos by Three Fifteen Design - see more on Instagram.

Check out the Herbalist Mood Board.

Check out Haley's work on Instagram and her shop on Etsy.

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