Meet the spinners + hear our story
It's been about two months now since my last trip to India to visit the spinners and already that amazing trip is receding in my mind. I know many people might not be familiar with where our yarns come from and who actually makes them. I thought, why not do a little highlight post on these remarkable ladies and the amazing work they do! Here are some new photos and some ones from my trip in 2017. As we speak, I'm putting together little thank you photo albums for each lady with some of the highlights from the trips I've taken. I also hope to get a larger printed photo for their studio and for my new office. For me, it's a reminder of how grateful I am to these women for taking a chance on my hair brained yarn idea and sticking with me. A reminder of how how happy and proud they are of the yarn they make. A reminder that I'm not working alone but have a team of strong women that also depend on this to earn a living. A reminder to keep going and to push my creativity to come up with new ideas - they (as well as myself) demand it and are up for trying anything. Good reminders, reminders that make me smile, reminders I need, reminders that scare me a little. Reminders that have me wondering how long before I get back there and bring the fam?! I am ready to go back right now! With that, I'd love to introduce you to these amazing women.
Here we are! Just one missing, see my only snap of Monika below who runs the whole show and is a little camera shy. All of the ladies except for Deepika has been here since the beginning, 6 years ago. Sadly, since this photo Deepika left us. She got married and went to live with her husband's family. Meera's daughter has filled in, meet her below!
I'm lucky enough to stay with Monika while there and the food - OMG it's such amazing home cooked Indian food. All from scratch! Monika is my English speaking point person. Some of the other ladies speak a little English but not much. Monika helped me build everything and truly I could not have done it without her. She's a very old friend and we consider each other family after all these years.
Meet Sungita! She packs the yarn up. Twisting the yarn into a skein is an art form as any yarn shop owner knows. She's excellent at it - our yarns always look so yummy the way she twists them. Her favorite yarn is Spun Cloud in color Blue Flame and Rolling Stone in color Shooting Star. She also dives into other jobs like fiber prep when needed.
Meet Meera - she was the first lady I trained to spin on my own wheel. She is the quality control expert and checks each and ever skein. She also oversees the spinners. Her sari, right, so good! She likes Spun Cloud in Bodacious Pink and Wildflower yarn in Gardenia.
Meet Ranjit! Ranjit makes the trims you see in our yarns. These include pom poms, tassels, crochet flowers, braided trims...the list goes on. She also makes our fabric yarns. If she had to pick one favorite it would be Wildflower Drifter in color Pale Lime.
This is Reeta, she also makes the trims and Wildflower cotton fabric yarns as Ranjit. Her favorite yarn is Wildflower Drifter in Ginseng.
This is Bindu. She preps and cards fiber. Carding fiber is the process we use to blend many different fiber colors together. She's holding some of the fiber we use in this pic. She didn't want to choose a favorite yarn - just the fiber, ha!
Say hi to Kavita. She also preps and cards fiber like Bindu and her favorite colors are pink and purple.
Her toe rings, love!
This is Neelam, Kavita's mother. Neelam is a master spinner and can spin any of our yarns well including Gypsy Garden, Cast Away and Pixie Dust. She likes our Wanderlust yarns best and is holding our new fall 2017 color Peachy Keen in her arms.
Meet Balgit, another spinner who's favorite yarn is Wanderlust. She's holding her favorite color - new for 2017 and called Spirit Animal.
This is Rekha. She is amazing as spinning Cast Away and Pixie Dust yarns in particular. She's very fast too! Her favorite yarn is Pixie Dust in color Lemon Meringue.
She always has spectacular toe rings.
This is Ranjna, another spinner who can spin any of our yarns but who specifically specializes in Cast Away and Pixie Dust. She also likes Lemon Meringue :)
Meet another Rehka, Meera's daughter, who Meera taught to spin and is shown here spinning some Cast Away yarn! She took to it really quickly, I'm told. She was a blast to have with us too. Quick to show me her sparkly bracelets and colorful saris.
Veena overseas the production flow and make sure the team is meeting delivery due dates. She makes sure we have all the raw materials in house to produce the yarns smoothly without any shortages. She's also one of the first ladies I taught to spin the yarns and now she's running the whole show!
One of the happiest things I saw was that the ladies all share 2 rickshaws home together. They all live near each other and are now quite good friends. Each night I said goodbye to them and watched them pile into the rickshaws, it was a riot!
I loved seeing the camaraderie they have with each other.
Ok, now for the process. I think you may be interested to see a little bit into the process of how we make the yarns. Most of these pics come from short instagram story videos so excuse the quality. I hope to someday put together a little about us video for my website where I dive into the incredibly time consuming process of how these yarns are made in more detail. This is just a quick overview of how we go about spinning a yarn with no trims. The yarns with trims have a little bit more of a process to them!
Steps 1 & 2: Fiber prep & carding. We buy our fiber already processed and dyed from a mill. I'm also happy to show a little behind the scenes on this if you're interested. I actually visited this mill while in India as well. It was really cool!
Step 3: Spinning with carded fiber
A bunch of our yarns, including Wanderlust and some colors of Gypsy Garden are actually spun twice.
Step 4: Make it into a skein!
Step 5: Steam or wash the yarn to set the fibers into place.
Step 6: Add the labels
Step 7 is where Meera comes in - she checks each yarn for quality - is the length correct, is the thickness Ok, are trims falling off...the list goes. So yeah, Meera is important!
Alright, there you have it folks! I have so many more photos and amazing things I could share but this is already the longest post to date. If you're interested in seeing more behind the scenes, definitely leave a comment here. I think I must have 1000 pics of the spinners and India. It's been a blast sharing this part of the business with you all. Thank you so much for taking the time to read. If you are interested in hearing about how all of this started, listen to my Woolful podcast episode here.
XOXO ~ Amy