The Fearless Femme: Jessie Hemmons (ishknits)


If you're local to Philadelphia, you've probably seen this #FearlessFemme's work. Jessie Hemmons, also known as ishknits, is a street artist, knitter and crocheter popular for her rogue yarn bombs on public structures and statues all around the city. We're so excited for you all to learn more about ishknits and why she's a Fearless Femme!


Name: ishknits  

Age: 31

Where do you call home? West Philly

What do you do for a living? I manage clinical trials at UPenn under M. Kit Delgado, MD, MS, researching ways to reduce preventable injuries (texting & driving, drinking & driving) and reduce rates prescription opiate abuse.

I also yarnbomb - meaning I create street art installations derived from fiber. I use knitting and crochet, and my content generally includes overt and covert feminist themes. I use a knitting machine with a punchcard pattern reader to knit the backdrops of my yarnbombs. Then I will hand crochet any text or detailed additions.

Name 3 people who inspire you: Bree Newsome, Colin Kaepernick and Yasmine Mustafa

What motivates you? I want to help people. I've wanted to help people ever since I survived traumatic events in my childhood. I've wanted to help people ever since I was a juvenile delinquent with an eating disorder and suicidal tendencies and desperately needed help myself. I want to remove the stigma surrounding normal reactions to trauma.

I also want to relieve victims from having to take responsibility for what happened to them. Victims don't own that weight and I want to make society understand that.

Who is your favorite person on social media right now? Sofiya Ballin (@sofiyaballin). She is an amazing journalist and so passionate about creating social change. All of her projects are engaging and educational and always maintain a sense of celebration. Plus, I love how her posts encourage self-love and appreciation. I also love this about @eclectic_8ody and @africanchinagirl.

What is your greatest extravagance or splurge? Quality shoes.

Where is your favorite travel destination? New Orleans.

How do you take your coffee? With cream, no sugar.

Describe yourself in three words: Assertive, Sarcastic, Diligent

What advice would you give your younger self? To my teen self: It's not your fault. You don't need to hurt yourself to feel better. Find a friend and talk to someone about your feelings. Your feelings are totally valid and normal.

To my young adult self: Don't take out so many student loans. And don't go to graduate school without working in the field for a while.

Even if there are some things I'd like to go back and change, I am happy with the life choices I have made. I'm paying for it now, but I don't regret it (most of the time). I spent my 20's living in different states, leaving the 9-5 world to work as an artist (and dog walker), getting by on the bare minimum and having as much fun as I could. There's no way I could do any of that now that I have a child and debt and 30-something-year-old body. I know that's not a possibility for everyone. I had that chance and I'm glad I took it.

Where can we find you on a Sunday afternoon? With my son MacAllister (Mac), taking it easy.

What's the best relationship advice you've ever gotten? I'm not totally sure I have received any amazing relationship advice. From earning a counseling degree, here's some advice I would give to others:

1. Take some time to define, for yourself, your boundaries, so you don't end up in murky territory (i.e. the line between "they are just going through something" and "this is abuse").

2. Sometimes you are going to lean on them, and sometimes they are going to lean on you. Make sure you let them.

3. Be able to say you're sorry. You aren't always right and sometimes you are going to be mean and/or do something wrong. Just own it, apologize, and learn from it.


You aren't always right and sometimes you are going to be mean and/or do something wrong. Just own it, apologize, and learn from it.


If you could be any superhero, who would you be and why? Honestly, any superhero I mention would just be a guess. I don't know enough to make an informed decision. If I had a superpower it would be invisibility so I could always know what's going on.

Where's your favorite place to eat? El Azteca at 7th and Chestnut in Philly.

How do you stay sane balancing your life and career? I've noticed over the years that my schedule tends to have ebbs and flows. Sometimes I have so much going on I can barely breathe, and other times I have the availability to take it easy and spend time with my family and friends. When I'm really busy, I try to remember that time will open up in the future. And I stay sane by thinking about the sense of accomplishment I will feel afterward and the personal projects I'll have the chance to work on once I'm done. Also, I lean heavily on my partner for support. We have frank conversations about my availability and he holds down the fort for us during crazy times. And he'll whip out a crochet hook when I need him.

What's your favorite app right now? Twitter. I've had it for years, but never really understood how to use it or who to follow until recently. And I had no idea you could find out news so quickly. But I'm more of a lurker. I don't have the wherewithal to handle the onslaught of harassment users experience.

Stay inspired and keep up with Jessie's yarn bombing via her awesome website (, Instagram and Twitter! Also, photo credit goes to StreetsDept.


Stay tuned for more Fearless Femmes throughout the month of September here on Femme & Fortune! And make sure to get your dose of inspiration and motivation IRL at our yearly conference for women who get sh*t done, FearlessCon, happening this October 13-14th in Philadelphia!