Indie Across the Pond Untangling: La Cave à Laine

A woman with gray hair peeking out from behind a blue floral bag.

This is the second in a series of blog posts featuring the fabulous sponsors of Indie Across the Pond, taking place from March 19-21, 2021.

Sara Maternini of La Cave à Laine has been a regular part of the Indie Untangled marketplace since her first post about her 100% cotton, extra light and washable project bags in 2018. She’s since expanded her range into hand-dyed bags — perfect for hand-dyed yarn! — oilskin backpacks and notions.

Making her home in Alsace, France, by way of Italy, Sara is also a prolific designer, so she knows a thing or two about what makes a great home for your WIPs.

What came first: knitwear design or bag making?

They came both quite close! I began designing and making the first bags, and then a few weeks after I published my first pattern, Fibonacci Ronde (https://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/fibonacci-ronde). I think I had to fulfill a sort of need to express myself with my hands, which is, still today, my daily call!

What did you do in your pre-La Cave à Laine career and do you find any parallels between it and your business?

I did many jobs, in different sectors: I began as a museum guide in Milan, Italy, where I was living at the time. I then moved on to the early stages of the internet and worked as a researcher (in a pre-Google era) and a social media manager. I had a brief but intense career as one of the first Italian food bloggers, that opened me many doors to different digital agencies and the job of social media manager. In 2011 we then moved to France, we had two very small children, and I felt the call for my needles!

A woman in glasses wears purple brioche cowl.

What made you decide to start sewing your own bags?

Mainly the possibility to choose fabrics that were more to my taste. I really like minimalist prints, bold, un-patterned colours, and austere shapes. The market was void of the kind of bags I wanted.
I feel our bags are the mirror of our souls: as an Italian I grew up surrounded by incredible beauty, and I always find myself looking for my own version of beauty and purity everywhere. I was always partial toward Renaissance artists and their infinite search for symmetry, beauty, and practicality in everything. And I look for these characteristics in everything I wear. Or make.

How would you say your project bags are different from others?

Some of the features I always stress about are that my bags are made only of natural materials (no plastic, no interfacing, no glue, no polyester), and that they are washable. These two rules are guiding me in choosing all the materials and the ways I design my bags.

Being a very practical person, I also try to reflect this in my bags: functionality is always my first concern. I fill my bags with pockets, adjustable handles, zippers…

Last but not least, my bags are designed and constructed to have no leftover fabric or waste: every single inch is used. And even with my hand-dyed line of bags, water waste during the dyeing process is reduced to a bare minimum.

A woman holds a yellow backpack.

Can you share some of your plans for Indie Across the Pond?

For Indie Across the Pond I went a bit over the top! I had some lines of new bags in the making and to be released throughout 2021, but I gave a final push to make all of them a reality for Indie Across the Pond!

Many new bags will debut during the show, from crazy unicorns bags, to oilskin backpacks (inspired by cartoon characters), luxury notion pouches (full to the brim with gorgeous notions!), and Knits Cosy: a new series of bags created to keep your knits safe and sound wherever you go, with many other uses! Also during the show, the full range of new notions will be available, from super cute scissors to the new stitch markers I have been making in the last months: my iconic skull stitch markers got a revamp, and some new beads will also debut.

The booth will be in full swing and ready to delight all knitters and crocheters!

What are some of the best things you’ve learned running your business?

So, so many! One of the best lessons I have learned is to trust myself but double the time I think a certain task will take to be accomplished! So, instead of stressing about unattainable self-imposed deadlines, I enjoy the time it takes to make everything!

A purple dyed bag holding a skein of speckled pink yarn.
When and how did you learn to knit?

I first learned to knit when I was around 7 years old: my grandma taught me the knit stitch, but that was about it. No cast-on, purl, bind off, increases, decreases…

Then, in 2009, when pregnant with my first child, I learned, thanks to the internet, everything else!
Something that really fascinates me about knitting is that there is no end to the learning curve: not only there are always ways to improve, but also learn new stitches, techniques, constructions…

A yellow, blue, orange and cream striped crescent-shaped shawl.

What are your favorite skeins in your stash?

Too many! I am always ready to fall in love with new skeins without forgetting all the old ones!
One constant love, since 10 years, is Malabrigo, for their bold colours and type of fibers: give me some Plomo on any base, even singles, and I am happy!

Another love is Lanivendole, not only because Stefania and Giulia are dear friends, but also for the incredible project behind their brand, and the fact that their yarns are so alive: you feel it when you touch them, and even more when you knit them!

Tell me the projects that are currently on your needles.

On my needles there is always a shawl at some stage of completion, and lately (too) many sweaters: a raglan in my size, ready for sleeve and body divide, and a saddle shoulder for my son in a size too big, because by the time it will be finished he will fill it just right! All these projects will be patterns one day, once the samples will be finished, patterns written in multiple sizes, tech edited, tested, and then tech edited once more!

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