If you had asked us last year at this time to look forward to right now, we would have probably burst into tears. Change is hard, and what feels like a life’s work - even when you’re still in your 30’s - is a hard thing to let go of, especially when it’s not your choice.
Last summer we were told we would no longer be distributing The Fibre Company yarns in North America, and we had from then until April of 2018 to plan for our future. As anyone who has given birth knows, having ten months to plan something is both a blessing and a bit of a curse. We spent July to October last year doing some hard work, really digging deep to get to the essence of who we were as women, business people, crafters, knitters, makers, and mothers. What was important to us? Who was our audience? Who were we? What did we want the next 10, 20, 30 years of our lives as makers and business owners to look like? It was at times tearful, rageful, joyful, and at all times therapeutic.
As many of you know, Kate and I began Kelbourne Woolens in September of 2008 as the distributors of The Fibre Company yarns. From the start, our role as “distributor” went way beyond a typical arrangement. We welcomed the opportunity to work with yarn shops, design a pattern line, and take on the day to day responsibilities of owning a company. We booked and designed ads, we updated the website, we worked directly with the mills to develop new yarns and colors - everything. We learned a lot, we worked hard, and we wouldn’t trade it for anything. Would we do some things differently if we had to do it again? Well, of course. But I think we can honestly say that is true about anything in one’s life when looked at in hindsight. What we wouldn’t trade is the relationships with shops owners, managers, the mills, magazines, and designers that we developed along the way. We created Kelbourne Woolens in my apartment way back in 2008, but together we all built what it became.
As they say, time heals all wounds and the show must go on, or something like that. So, starting in December 2017 on the Winter Solstice - magical deeds require magical intentions - we released our first Kelbourne Woolens branded yarn, Andorra. Andorra was just what we wanted to be as a brand. It was simple, elegant, and well priced. Just like us! Haha. There was nothing overwrought about it, nothing pretentious. It had a vintage feel that I loved, and a sturdiness that spoke to Kate’s New England sensibilities.
Scout followed on the Spring Equinox, the time of the year when we celebrate rebirth and rejuvenation. It was also the time of year when we were scheduled to officially separate from The Fibre Company. The timing felt very powerful, and full of new possibilities that awaited us. The “divorce” took up a lot of our emotional and mental energy at this time, and I would be lying if I said that every day wasn’t a struggle. Watching the warehouse empty of nearly one’s entire inventory is a harrowing experience, but knowing that it was being replaced with our own products, that were fully ours, was a much needed salve to the wound.
With the separation behind us, we forged ahead and on the Summer Solstice we launched Mojave. The Summer Solstice is a time of growth and renewal, and it felt fitting. We had worked hard the whole previous year to get ourselves to this point - finally on our own completely with our own company. Mojave was designed and developed by Meghan, officially our office manager, but in reality she is the glue that holds us all together. Meghan is the reason we are able to travel, to have children, to write books, and still ship yarn to the shops that want it. Last summer, when we weren’t sure if we were even going to have a company a year out, Meghan committed to stay on, convinced she would see us through to the other side of things. She was an integral part of everything that Kelbourne became, beyond a member of our team, Meghan is part of Kelbourne Woolens.
I think it is fitting that the release of Germantown marks the final chapter in our ten year anniversary. It’s a yarn with a history, often changing, that has weathered the ebb and flow of trends. We are honored to be in the position to pick up the torch and carry it on for the time we are lucky enough to do so, and we hope that when our time is done that someone else comes along to bring it forward to a new generation. That is what life is all about, after all, isn’t it?
At the end of the day we look forward to each new adventure. Regardless of how much it hurt to be erased from the proverbial “About” page of ten years of hard work, there are always ten more years ahead to write a new one. Every day we tell ourselves that we are where we are through hard work, dedication to the craft, and the support of our community.