As we move towards the fall in the U.S., more and more communities have been organizing yarn crawls, where shoppers can go from one local yarn shop to another on a designated series of days for a fun, yarny adventure. If you’ve been to a yarn crawl before, you may wonder who was working behind the scenes to organize it. It very well may have been Phyllis Howe of knitting & howe llc. Today, Phyllis had some time to stop by for an interview.You can find Phyllis online at the knitting & howe website and as pjjhowe on Ravelry.
Underground Crafter (UC): Do you knit and/or crochet? If so, how did you first learn and what are your personal favorite types of projects to create?
Phyllis: Yes, I knit. I am a very, very avid knitter, having learned from my mother when I was about 8 years old. I just kept at it and have always loved it. My favorite items to knit, these days, seem to be children’s wear. Quick and satisfying and easy to fit, I guess.
UC: Tell us a bit about knitting & howe and how you started doing this type of work.
Phyllis: I started knitting & howe llc about 8 years ago. I had finished working for a magazine which had been sold to another company. I decided to continue marketing, but only concentrate on marketing the things I truly loved – and hand craft and knitting were the first that came to mind. I began my company by marketing knitting kits which I created from start to finish. It took about a year to understand how unprofitable kits were in the long run, so I took my company in another direction and decided to help other knitting, yarn and publishing companies market their products and also to produce events.
UC: What’s your knitting philosophy?
Phyllis: My philosophy on knitting is that it chose me, I did not choose it. Once you are “chosen” the passion goes very deep and extends to not only the work but the sources. It’s an artistry where there are so many positive factors, starting with the livestock that gift us with their fleeces. A healthy animal goes on living and yet the product of its existence is then processed (in some cases, by hand), spun and made into something that keeps a body warm. Many times items are made by and with love and when that happens, the result is very magical. An energy is transmitted from animal to maker to wearer that completes a circle of creation that is very satisfying. (UC comment: What a beautiful philosophy, Phyllis, and definitely true!)
UC: You have been involved with the New York City Yarn Crawl since it began. Can you tell us about how the yarn crawl has worked in New York City and how it compares to other yarn crawls you’ve worked on?
Phyllis: The NYC Yarn Crawl was my first endeavor. I am a New Yorker so I knew the neighborhoods very well, and had shopped in almost every store in Manhattan. At the time I was working with Knitty City (I still am), and it was Pearl Chin who suggested that I produce an event that would support all the yarn stores and that would also support local small businesses. We both believe that by strengthening people’s knowledge of the variety of stores, we could also grow knitting and crochet interest throughout our city. The first one was fun and people asked for another. It’s basically the same as the ones I went on to produce in additional areas. The difference in NYC is that we have a great transit system that serves all neighborhoods. In other, more suburban neighborhoods, people have to drive.
UC: Do you have any tips for a crocheter or knitter who is a yarn crawl newbie? How do you recommend approaching a yarn crawl?
Phyllis: I would recommend that a newcomer to a yarn crawl go with a friend who has been to one before. It’s not a hard thing to do. Most just jump in and start with the store nearest to them, I would think, or, perhaps, start with their favorite LYS. In NYC, there’s a sense of community when you go from store to store since most people use the subway and move in groups. You meet great people with kindred interests and spirits.
UC: Do you have any crafty websites or blogs to recommend?
I have a number of crafty blogs and websites I would recommend. Like many people, I like Purl Bee and I like Mason Dixon Knitting. I also like Knitty City, but I must tell you I write that blog so it’s only fair that I disclose that to you. I am also a big fan of some British blogs, including Kate Davies Designs. The latter is written by a woman who is a textile historian and designer and I love her passion for origin as well as technique.
UC: Are there any upcoming events that knitting & howe is involved with this fall that you’d like to share?
Phyllis: Apart from the NYC Yarn Crawl, scheduled for Oct. 6, 7 and 8, k&h is also producing a bus trip to the New York State Sheep & Wool Festival in Rhinebeck on October 20, 2012. Please visit the trips/events page on my website to read about it. We have space and we welcome all who are interested in going to one of the best fiber and wool fairs in our country. It’s much easier to go by bus then to go by individual car. (UC comment: I so wish I could be on that bus trip, but I’m working that Saturday :(.)
Thanks so much for stopping by Phyllis, and for your work promoting the yarn crafts!