Potomac Craft Artist Lends a Hand to Those in Need
Meet the artist at the upcoming Washington Craft Show Nov. 16-18
At the Washington DC airport one summer afternoon, Jean Zakotnik of Potomac, MD sat knitting as she waited for her flight to begin boarding.
A gentleman approached and asked: "What are you knitting?" She told him it was a handbag to be felted for her new enterprise, “JZ Bag Knitters”. He said his mother "loves to knit and she is homebound; do you think she could do some knitting for you?"
Over the next year many similar conversations took place in hospital waiting rooms and anyplace Jean was seen knitting.
Before long, there were many women working and knitting felted handbags. They continue today, creating more than 500 handbags per year under Zakotnik’s supervision, which are then sold at fine craft events, such as the Washington Craft Show, which will visit the convention center in Washington for 3 days beginning November 16.
“JZ Bag Knitters are women from diverse backgrounds, living here in the USA,” says Zakotnik. “Some are retirees, others stayed with us just long enough to earn money to get through a tough time. Some joined us as a means to re-enter the job force after rehabilitation. And there are those who knit while recovering from an illness or simply because they need the extra money to make ends meet. Most importantly, they all love to knit.”
JZ Bags has gone from selling 20 bags its first year to over 500 per year now. Jean Zakotnik says that growth is the result of “our unique bags, our hardworking knitters and seamstress and last but not least, Karyn B who does it all, from knitting to the hard work of shaping the wet bags, adding the finishing touches of buttons or flowers.”
“JZ Bags are hand-knit and felted, one-of-a-kind, individually styled bags that add powerful impact and personality to your look,” says Zakotnik. “They go with you in any direction - casual or dressy, funky or elegant.” Zakotnik says her bags “are more attuned to a modern lifestyle; the organic fabric drapes in multifunctional shapes, letting the bags assume the character of the women that wear them - warm and peaceful, hot and sassy or cool and calculating.”
All of the felted bags are made of 100% wool - an environmentally sustainable and renewable resource whose water-resistant fiber is lightweight yet strong. “We create bags that are beautiful and practical, incorporating my love of color, knitting and handbags,” says Zakotnik. “I also have my customers in mind, offering adjustable straps and removable flowers.”
Meet Jean Zakotnik and see her work at the Washington Craft Show November 16-18 at the Washington Craft Show.
If you go:
25th annual Washington Craft Show
Walter E. Washington Convention Center, Mt. Vernon Square
Fri. 10am-8pm / Sat. 10am-6pm / Sun. 11am-5pm
Tickets: $15. Seniors $14. Under 12 free with paid adult. After 6pm Friday, $6.
Online at www.WashingtonCraftShow.com.