A Craft For Us All

Today in the US, and around the world, we honor the work and legacy of an American hero, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. A civil rights activist who needs no real introduction, whose voice and ideas influenced all of us to a new way of thinking about race in our country. 

I spent the morning reading about the weekend's fiasco involving our President-elect and Congressman John Lewis, and decided that instead of blogging about my weekend teaching at VK Live, it would be better to take a moment to think about what I could be doing today for the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service. 

Whites, it must be frankly said, are not putting in a similar mass effort to re-educate themselves out of their racial ignorance. It is an aspect of their sense of superiority that the white people of America believe they have so little to learn.
— Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

There is no doubt in my mind that race inequality is still a major issue in the US. If you are a white person, and you are paying attention, you cannot deny it either. Racism and race inequality is prevalent in so many aspects of our society; housing inequality, education, fear of police, job opportunities, and even - yes - within our own craft industry. So, today, I want to take a moment to feature our favorite designers, yarn makers, and crafters of color on the blog. It's not going to change the world, but I want to show that white people can - and should - use our platforms to teach and share the work and accomplishments of our fellow crafters of color.


Karida Collins, Neighborhood Fiber Company

The Neighborhood Fiber Company had it's beginnings in 2006, in my hometown of Washington, DC. Karida has since moved her company to nearby Baltimore, MD and occupies a very cool former firehouse in Baltimore's Bromo Arts District. Fine yarn shops all over the country carry the Neighborhood Fiber Company's bright, vibrant hand-dyed yarns, and Karida and her staff travel to consumer yarn shows all over the country. I last saw them at Stitches West, and they had one of the coolest booths in the place. Click here to see where you can find Karida and her gorgeous yarns next!

More than just a yarn company, Karida is also a fantastic knitter, designer, and teacher. She both hosts classes in her space, and teaches dyeing. If you are in the Baltimore area, definitely take advantage of the wonderful resources she has provided to the craft community through her studio space. 

Also, check out this recent article from BizJournals all about NFC and Karida.


Grace Anna Farrow, A Stitch to Wear

Designer Grace Anna Farrow hails from Philadelphia, PA and is currently living in New Mexico with her family. Full disclosure, we were roommates in our 20s and best friends. She's also my son's godmother. We met when working at Rosie's Yarn Cellar in Philadelphia and became fast friends. Her work is stunningly exacting (which mine will never be) and she is a seriously intense designer. Her shawls and garments are known for being unique, modern, and sleek designs that play on lines of architecture, bold graphics, and interesting construction. Grace is never one to shy away from the complex mathematics of knitwear design. 

Grace Anna has published in Vogue Knitting, Interweave Press, Kelbourne Woolens, Brooklyn Tweed, and more - as well as self-published a number of books and patterns on her website, A Stitch to Wear. You can also view all of her patterns on Ravelry.


The Yarn Mission

Founded in St. Louis, MO in 2014, following the murder of Michael Brown in nearby Ferguson, The Yarn Mission is a group of knitters of color whose mission is to center Black identity in the craft movement and to support Black and other minority crafters through programming and grants, as well as online visibility to support Black Liberation. 

Importantly, while we organize around Black Liberation, we support efforts to liberate all marginalized groups and folks at the intersections. The Yarn Mission is organized on the values of intersectionality and is anti-oppressive at its core. We hold that it is essential to acknowledge that oppression creates hierarchies according to many identities. We also recognize that all individuals sit at the intersection of multiple identities.
— CheyOnna Sewell, founder of The Yarn Mission

Now based in Minneapolis, The Yarn Mission hopes to open new chapters of knitting activists across the country. Now, more than ever, is the time to get involved! Check out theyarnmission.com and find out what events they have coming up, and how you can get involved. 


DC Boyd, Neutral States

Local Philadelphia knitter and fashion designer DC Boyd recently finished her MS in Fashion Design at Drexel University, after focusing on hand knitting for fourteen years. Her company, Neutral States, "was born out of a desire to see knit and woven fabric come together in one garment." Her first collection was released in Fall 2016. 

For more information visit neutralstates.com, and follow her work on Instagram @neutralstatesclothing.


Gaye Glasspie, GGmadeit

Designer and blogger Gaye Glasspie is an avid knitter and self-described yarn addict. She not only loves to knit, crochet, and write about it, but she also has a popular line of "Natural Knitter" tees, totes and mugs that you don't want to miss! 

And for the crocheters out there, there's also a Natural Hooker design as well. Gaye's blog is a fun read, and you can follow her here.

I found Gaye's blog last year on Pinterest, and found this amazing resource she has compiled called African-Americans Knit Too.


Lorna Hamilton Brown

There really isn't enough good to say about artist Lorna Hamilton Brown. She is an artist and activist located in the UK, and her work centers around the Black experience and seemingly everyday events. Through illustration, sound art, fashion, knitting, and text she creates a rich landscape of color and commentary.


This is just a small group of crafters I know and love, and if you have links you'd like to share featuring the work of knitters, crocheters, dyers, or crafters of color please do so in the comments! Let's always support one another, no matter our skin color, race, ethinicity, ability, gender, or sexual identity. We're all here because we share the love of craft, so let's show each other some love as well. 


Looking for more ways to learn, or to get involved in craft and activism (aka Craftivism)? 

Guest Post: Mari Chiba

If you follow Kelbourne Woolens on Instagram, you may already know that both Kate and Courtney are expecting new additions to their families and will be taking some time off. In the interim,  we’ve lined up some of our talented friends to start a new series of guest posts so that our readers can still enjoy great tips, tricks & inspiration here on our blog.  

Hi there! I’m Mari Chiba, and I’ll be popping in to guest blog over the next couple of months while Kate and Courtney are off enjoying time with their new tiny humans. I’m been fortunate to work with Kelbourne Woolens as part of my day job with Stitchcraft Marketing over the years (and also as a designer).  

Connectivity gloves by Mari Chiba

Though I learned to knit as a child, I didn’t pick it up again until I was living in Armenia as a Peace Corps volunteer; not soon after, I stumbled into the industry when I met a yarn company while teaching English in China. I’ve been designing knitting patterns, teaching knitting classes, and working for Stitchcraft Marketing since 2011. 

One of my favorite designs, and one that I wear daily in winter, are my Connectivity Gloves from the First Fall 2016 issue of Knitty. They are knit with a skein of Canopy Worsted and a skein of The Feel Good Yarn Company SilverSpun, a conductive yarn that means you can use your smart phone while wearing the gloves! Using Canopy Worsted to knit the body of the glove means these won’t take as long to make as a glove knit completely in a lighter weight yarn. 

I also designed a pattern for the Knightsbridge Collection: Barnaby is a menswear-inspired pullover with saddle shoulders. Knit in one piece from the bottom up, I’m still dreaming about making one of these for myself to wear one day. 

I’ll be back with more of my perspective on the knitting industry, a color story, and interviews with designers that I admire. You can follow me on Instagram and on Ravelry.

Designer Feature: Badlands Mitts by Kathryn Folkerth

Now that it's truly winter, I find a good pair of fingerless mitts is an absolute necessity in the office and warehouse. These Badlands Mitts by Kathryn Folkerth answer my need perfectly. 

Worked up in Cumbria Fingering, these mitts use an allover texture contrasted with 1 x 1 ribbing at the thumb and cuff to create a modern look. The articulated thumb makes them comfortable and functional. Better yet, they are designed in 6 sizes to accommodate all the chilly hands in your life, from toddler to large adult. I love them shown here in bright and sunny Buttermere.

These mitts were designed to use up the leftovers from the coordinating cap, Badlands Hat. One skein of Cumbria Fingering will make a set. If you plan on making the hat first, Kathryn wisely suggests splitting the remaining ball of yarn into two before casting on for the mitts to ensure having enough yarn for both mitts. 

I will definitely be casting on for a set of these ASAP. I can't think of a better or more useful January project!