What to stash this week: Supporting black-owned indie businesses

Over the last few months, all of our lives were upended by something that couldn’t be seen without a microscope. As knitters and makers, our first instinct during the COVID-19 pandemic was to turn to the thing that has always held comfort for us. We don’t need news articles to tell us that knitting (and yarn) is therapy — we know it when we reflexively pick up our latest mindless project, lose ourselves in a complicated cable pattern or scroll through our Instagram feed, double-tapping the colorful twisted hanks in square boxes.

More recently, life has been upended again, by visible representations of something that can’t always be seen, even with a microscope, but that can always be felt. Systemic racism is a virus that has long been circulating in our communities, even when we don’t think we’re displaying obvious symptoms. It’s a disease that black people around the world have been exposed to all their lives, and over these past several days, they’ve been gasping for air.

As I type this, George Floyd’s family is preparing for his memorial and they, along with people all over the U.S., are grieving. Grieving not just for George, but for a long list of black lives that have been lost to racism. We are angry, and there is no vaccine that can make it all go away.

As we seek out comfort while doing the work we so desperately need to do to confront and eliminate racism, in ourselves and in our communities, I hope that you can take this opportunity to explore, and continue to support, the work of the many black indie dyers, designers and creators who help make our particular community so special.

As a knitter and through Indie Untangled, I have been fortunate to be able to learn about and work with some of these business owners.

Blue, green and yellow yarn.

Robin Guy of Birch Hollow Fibers creates soothing and subtly complex colorways inspired by two of her favorite things: books, particularly fantasy fiction, and tea. Her bases are named after women she admires, including American abolitionist and women’s rights activist Sojourner Truth.

A black woman in a blue and purple cardigan smiles in front of a wall of colorful yarn.

Brooke Addams of Fully Spun creates hand-dyed marled yarns with the look of handspun. Her latest collection is in honor of Pride month and includes a broad representation of the LGBTQ+ community through yarn. It was great to get to know Brooke better during the Indie Untangled Virtual Knit Night last night!

Red, black and gray yarn.

Diane Ivey of Lady Dye Yarns dyes vibrant street art-inspired skeins and has brought together diverse business owners for her yarn clubs.

A peach pin over peach colored speckled yarn.

Adella Colvin of Lolabean Yarn Co. named her popular indie yarn company for her daughter because, as a woman of color, she wanted to show Lola that “we can achieve success regardless of the circumstances.”

A navy, gold and cream oblong triangle shawl.

Tamy Gore of Narrow Path Designs makes hand-dyed yarn come alive with her elegant shawls and accessories, which feature lace and texture.

Rainbow die stitch markers.

Marsha Auguste of One Geek To Craft Them All handcrafts fun stitch markers, jewelry and project bags based on various geekery and pop culture.

Five colorful skeins of variegated yarn.

Lola Johnson of UK-based Third Vault Yarns themes her brightly-colored yarn around sci-fi, fantasy and comic fandoms like Firefly, The Sandman and Discworld.

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