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.
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)?