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.
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.
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)?
19 thoughts on “A Craft For Us All”
Excellent post! Thank you for honoring Dr. King and teaching me about some of the awesome crafters of color I wasn’t aware of previously.
Thanks for this great post! It’s definitely our responsibility to educate ourselves and advocate for a more diverse industry!
Thank you for doing this post, I’d love to see more of it throughout the year. Maybe you could do a regular series on fiber artists of color? Perhaps incorporating their voices if interested in sharing their experiences? As an antiracism activist and avid knitter I’m excited to see the knitting world engaging with the racism that exists in all of our systems and communities.
Master Hand Knitwear and Crochet Designer and Author of the Best Selling Book,
Knitwear Design Workshop
Wonderful post … Kings County Fiber Festival
This is an excellent post!! I would like to thank you for introducing me to so many new folks!!
Wonderful post. Thank you for Sharing so many talented people.
This is what knitting (also) looks like…
Great post! Thanks so much much for sharing!!! 😊
I’m now official obsessed with LORNA HAMILTON BROWN!!!
Thanks for this. We at the Yarn Mission love working with Black fiber artists.
By the way, CheyOnna, our founder moved to Minneapolis but we still have a vibrant chapter in St. Louis, and have a new chapter in New York at Slip Stitch Needlecraft, and interest in starting a chapter in Atlanta. Others Black artists:
Alex Reynoso, @alexcreates on Instagram
Kim Thompson*, @kimthecraftynomad on Instagram
Theresa Hill*, etsy.com/shop/EweNitedStatesFiber
Yolonda Jordan*, @myprettybrowndoll on Instagram
Urban Girl Yarns, urbangirlyarns.com
Lady Dye, ladydyeyarns.com
Emerald Heart Knits, @emeraldheartknits on Instagram
*We worked with these artists, as well as Gaye and Karida, and featured their fiber & fiber art at our Vogue Knitting Live Minneapolis booth and on our website.
Thanks for sharing all of this info! Keep up the AMAZING work. <3
This is a great first foray into a conversation I’ve been having in the fiber community for the last 10 years. From the most popular podcasts showcasing only white women in the industry to my own experience of owning a yarn shop and having a yarn shop and seeing prospective customers come in, look me over and ask where the owner was, to a rep telling me women of color don’t knit, they crochet! (Eye roll to all)
Anyway love this, keep on! Here are a couple more names for the list:
cauchycomplete on IG
snerbyarn on IG
And me: I’m knittyzen on IG
Thanks for adding your voice to the comments! I hope it becomes a conversation we revisit here again and again, not just one day a year. What shop do you own?
Asian, not African-American, but get the same sort of response. Usually, new folks also compliment me on how well I speak English!
Great post, but please remember that "color" includes other groups. BTW, love, love, love Karida’s yarn, and Karida!
Wow! Thank you for this terrific post. Let’s keep this conversation alive.
@heybrownberry and her daughters