This is the second in a series of blog posts featuring the fabulous sponsors of Indie Untangled Everywhere, taking place from October 15-17, 2020.
I first learned of Lanivendole at Barcelona Knits last November. While the Italian company was already on my list to check out, I was seriously enabled by May Khaw, a talented Singapore-based designer who I met and befriended during that wonderful trip. She had done some damage in their booth at Woollinn in Dublin earlier in the year and was planning some upcoming designs in their yarn (May’s latest design for Spanish knitting magazine Bellota is in Lanivendole’s A Chic Blend).
After taking in all the yarn, I was fascinated to learn about the company, run by Stefania Benzi and Giulia Pighi Guerra, who create and hand dye yarn custom milled in Italy, comprised of wool and alpaca fibers from local breeders. I was surprised to learn that small-batch, breed-specific yarns weren’t all that common in a country with a long history of textile production.
I had been planning to host their yarn in my booth at the in-person Indie Untangled show in October, but instead I’m excited to introduce you to them virtually.
Tell us the story of how Lanivendole came to be.
The idea took shape after a few years of conducting a textile arts association in Genova; by that time we managed to get a good knowledge of different fibre types and especially their behavior in both dyeing, blending and spinning by hand. We met during a hand-spinning workshop and soon after we started to figure out how to build our own yarn production. It was a slow process, that began with a long search to find the right mills to work with small batches, that are not so common in Italy; then, we started to test yarns’ compositions and structures, to start dyeing and test all the shades we had in mind.
How have you found the sheep breeders you work with?
In Italy there are not so many farms that raise herds for fibre purposes, and when we started the whole thing 10 years ago, there were nearly no small local yarn producers as well, so when we started searching for local fibres to use in our workshops, we easily got to all know each other! It was basically done through word of mouth from one trusted breeder to another, and that was how we met also the first mill we worked with.
How do both of you work together to decide on your color palette?
The very first palettes of our hand-dyed bases were studied and decided at the table, making tests and choosing together which colors better represented our ideas. Now we do like to create more freely shades and collections, so it happens that some inspiration comes to life from one of us and is presented to the other, or we plan a theme/mood board to follow, get to the pots and share the results… and modify the samples until we agree on the best result.
What are each of your responsibilities when it comes to the business? What are the unique things that each of you bring to your company?
Stefania: I deal with all the paperwork and administrative jobs, purchases and commercial promotion with shops and designers, and write our newsletter.
Giulia: I take care of all the photography for both our website and social media, our Instagram profile and keep in contact with breeders and the mills.
We share all other activities and decisions, from order fulfillment to dyeing, from planning to email replying — the best thing about this collaboration is that we balance each other.
Tell me about how each of you learned how to hand spin and knit.
Stefania: I learned knitting from my grandma as a child, paused and took up the needles again many times during high school and university, and then it became a vital habit in my life since my first pregnancy. By that time I self studied hand-spinning, reading books and watching online courses… that was one of the most satisfying goals I reached!
Giulia: I started knitting a few years ago, mostly self-taught and keen to take needles only in chilly seasons, also because my farm duties give me a little more spare time. I learned hand-spinning attending a workshop that Stefania held, with the aim to spin my own cashmere goats hair… I soon realized that the opportunities could be far wider if I got the heavenly fibre spun.
Anyhow, we both would love to hand spin a special edition yarn someday!
Can you share some of your plans for Indie Untangled Everywhere?
The main news we’re thrilled about is that we’ll have two bases with brand new palettes debuting at the event!
One is our Stormy Blend DK weight — made of 70% wool and 30% black alpaca — that we’re now hand dyeing in an earthy palette on the darkest grey base Ombra.
The second one is our beloved 100% wool base, A Pure and Simple Wool, from selected flocks of Abruzzo uplands that we’ve been expecting from the breeders for two years, and now we’ll finally have a rich new array of shades to show off.
Last but not least, our custom color on A Chic Blend – made of 60% wool, 20% alpaca and 20% mohair – which we hand dyed exclusively for Indie Untangled Everywhere! We can’t describe the color without spoiling, but we adore it!
Rustic Sample Box subscribers will find the custom color, along with shade cards of both the new bases mentioned above.
Do you enjoy other crafts in addition to knitting?
Stefania: Being the only niece of a skilled seamstress, I always carry the dream to sew my own clothes… but never actually started, but I must admit that my crafty side is well satisfied with knitting, dyeing and spinning, anyway.
Giulia: I recently discovered photography to curate our IG profile, and found out a new world I love!
Tell me the projects that are currently on your needles.
Stefania: I’m onto the sleeves of an awesome Jupiter Crop by Boyland Knitworks, and towards the end of Hikari Tee by Yamagara.
Giulia: I’m in the middle of a dreamy Pink Velvet by Andrea Mowry, and just started my very first pair of socks, Garia from Laine 52 Weeks of Socks.