KOEL Stories

Brand Highlight: Scaapi

KOEL Stories
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The KOEL team has full respect for brands that hold strong to eco-friendly and fair trade values, so when we found out about Michelle du Plessis's range of yarns, we were in awe. With a strong family heritage in merino and mohair wool production, her love for crafts and fiber and her desire to create more employment for families in South Africa, Scaapi was born. The production of the yarns are all done entirely by hand and handled with the utmost care that the fibres are treated delicately and with the respect that they deserve. With a strong focus on fair trade, Scaapi creates stable employment for women and men in economically repressed rural areas in South Africa, Afghanistan and Peru. 

Her newest collection of yarns, Kokon, is a luxury range that is made of the finest grade of Alpaca fiber and hand dyed in Peru by a fair trade certified dye house. Holding strong to Scaapi's ethos, the Alpacas are raised in the Andean highlands where there is no presence of chemical sprays and its production supports 70% of small farms in Peru. Available in 11 semi solid colours and 3 gradient color ways, Kokon is the epitome of elegant, softness and simplicity. 

We had a chat with Michelle about what motivated her to start Scaapi, her best selling yarns and more! 

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1. Tell us more about Scaapi.
Scaapi is a yarn distributor specialized in unique hand dyed and natural yarns that have been produced with respect and consideration for our planet, fellow man and animals. I have always loved and been interested in textiles. In my youth, all forms of craft formed a big part of my interests. Wool is in my heritage. My grandfather and 4 uncles were merino and mohair farmers. They set up a farming business in the central Karoo region of South Africa and were specialized in merino and mohair wool production. I had the privilege of spending most of my weekends on these farms, playing with my cousins and roaming free on vast Karoo land. It was magical as Karoo is one of the most beautiful semi desert areas in the world.

2. What motivated you to start Scaapi?
As a South African that grew up in the time of Apartheid, I have seen the sad and tragic consequences of this unfair and inhumane regime. I have always wanted to contribute to creating employment in South Africa and to do something to contribute back to my country. My love for craft and fibre, my family heritage and my love for South Africa formed the three pillars that created the base of Scaapi and the reason why I started of the business.

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3. We have high respect for brands that focuses on fair trade. Tell us more about the production process of your yarn collections. 
All the brands that I represent have been made in an eco-friendly production chain. The production of yarns are all done by hand such as dyeing and ball winding. They are dried in the sun and solar power is used for heating of water. The residue of dye baths are also recycled. Our employees are paid with fair wages and given social benefits. 

4. Share with us more about your newest collection Kokon. 
I created Kokon because I had a desire to express my own creativity in a yarn brand. The name Kokon bears a special meaning to me as I named it after my late parents, Koko and Nell. Kokon stands for everything I care about and I hope it will embrace others in beauty and kindness. 

5. Your bestselling yarns?
My best selling yarns are Kokon Worsted Baby Alpaca and Kokon Lace Baby Alpaca. 

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6. Share with us your experience at H+H Cologne Trade Fair. 
H&H Cologne is an amazing trade show that is very inspiring. It forms the highlight of my creative year and I love meeting customers and seeing what other brands offer at this show. The focus at H&H this year has shifted to include smaller and unique hand dyed brands and to showcase products that are produced in a fair trade and eco-friendly manner. I am very proud that Kokon was showcased at the Cologne Goes Green exhibition at H&H this year.  

7. What can we look forward to from Scaapi in the next 2 years or so?
The focus in the next two years will be on bringing more inspiration, more unique yarns and increasing our emphasis on fair trade produced yarns.   

8. Thoughts on the yarn trend?
There are two consumer trends that are important. Consumers want to buy unique products that offer them a unique experience and the opportunity to create something different. The other is a greater need and importance for consumers to know where products come from and how they are made. Custom dyed, small volume and unique yarns is becoming a big trend. 

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Photo Credits: Scaapi & KOEL Magazine 

Stockist Highlight: Fancy Tiger Crafts

KOEL Stories
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"We believe that making things by hand makes people feel better and that if more people made things, the world would be a better place." – we can't agree enough to the vision of Fancy Tiger Crafts' owners Jaime Jennings and Amber Corcoran! With shops like Fancy Tiger Crafts around and their support for small yarn companies, we are sure the yarn movement will spurring on for a long while. Featuring two large sewing studios and an expansive space for events in their current shop at Broadway in Denver, Fancy Tiger is like a second home to many craft enthusiasts where you can find them sharing project ideas with each other, chatting away about anything craft-related or creating beautiful crafts in a workshop. We are extremely thrilled to stock KOEL Magazine at this shop that is passionate about crafts as we are! We had a chat with one of the owners, Amber to find out more about what the supplies and workshops they offer. 

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1. Tell us more about Fancy Tiger Crafts. When did you set it up and what inspired you to do so? 
In the mid 2000s, Jaime and I (Amber) both learnt to knit and fell in love with handcrafting. In 2006, disenchanted by the lack of inspiring crafting materials, she decided to open Fancy Tiger Crafts. I was working on a business plan for a yarn shop in rural Colorado when she asked me to partner with her in 2007. I moved across the mountains to Denver, joined forces with her and we've been building our community and love of crafts ever since!

2. Share with us the types of yarns and supplies you offer at Fancy Tiger Crafts. 
We carry products that we ourselves want to work with, with a focus on smaller companies and sustainable products. We love unique colors, supplies with a great story and heritage breed wools. We are always on the lookout for materials that allow us to enjoy the process of our creating our crafts – tools that are nice to hold in our hands, natural materials and eco-friendly companies. We also love to meet and know the people behind the supplies we carry. There are some amazing folks doing really wonderful things in our industry!

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3. Tell us more about the workshops conducted at Fancy Tiger Crafts.
We love bringing inspiring craft superstars to our shop. We've had workshops with Stephen West, Ysolda Teague, Nancy Marchant, Ragga Eiríksdóttir and more... We are looking forward to a lecture and workshops this fall with Arne & Carlos! We also have weekly classes for basic knitting, sewing, quilting and other textile techniques. We host a craft night around our community table every Tuesday night where all are welcome to drop in with their current project for treats and hanging out. There is always something going on!

4. On a typical day at Fancy Tiger Crafts, you will see…
The shop is always bustling with many craft enthusiasts.... There will be folks planning projects, bouncing ideas off each other and showing off their handiwork. It's just so inspiring thing to be with folks who love working with their hands and creating beautiful things. 

5. Bestselling item in the store?
Our own sewing pattern, Fen, has been selling like hotcakes! 

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6. Share with us your most memorable customer to date!
We have a customer, Jenny, who visits us from Australia. She's the best! She has been a customer since we started out in our first tiny storefront. Jenny visits her family in Denver every year and we always squeal with delight when she stops in. She is a prolific quilt maker and is always inspiring us with the things she has made. She is also just an absolute ray of sunshine. My mom recently travelled to New Zealand and Australia and I was thrilled that she got to visit Jenny there! 

7. Thoughts on the yarn trend?
For us, the most exciting trend is the revitalized interest in historic breeds and traditional yarns. Jaime and I both enjoy traveling to places and learning about historic sheep breeds. Our industry has lost many small mills over the last century, so we strive to support the market for heritage sheep breeds and small mills that are still around. Personally we get so much enjoyment from these unique yarns and learning the traditional techniques that often accompany them. The current and growing trend of people also interested in this makes us hopeful for the future of our industry. 

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Photo Credits: Fancy Tiger Crafts

Stockist Highlight: Anna & Juan

KOEL Stories

Founded by designers Josefina Eliggi and Luzius Schnellmann in 2011, “Anna & Juan” is a collective that strives to develop sustainable textiles based on the use of plant dyes. Their responsible approach to design has since resulted in a stunning suite of products of high quality, which are made available in their shop in Zurich as well as their Etsy store.  We are also pleased to stock KOEL Magazine in their shop, so be sure to check the shop out when you are in Zurich!

1) A one-liner about your store? How would you summarise it for someone who’s never been?
Anna & Juan is a sustainable textiles and naturally-dyed yarn shop and studio, offering different kinds of hand-dyed yarns, knitting and crochet needles and notions, specialized magazines, handcrafted textile products, and even classes.

2) Bestselling item in the store?
Aside from our crochet hooks that are made of beech wood and produced in Switzerland, one of our best-selling items in the store is the Plant Dyed Cashmere Merino yarn — soft and warm, ideal for baby clothes and accessories.

3) What is something you never expected when you opened the shop?
We had three pop-up stores in Lucerne, before moving to Zurich. Zurich is bigger than Lucerne, and we had almost immediate acceptance. We were surprised by how quickly the workshops and classes were sold out, and by how people kept coming back. We have customers of all ages and from different countries. Also some of our customers became good friends and great supporters of our project.

4) Any funny experiences with customers?
Although our names are Josefina and Luzius, many people call us “Anna” and “Juan”!

5) Other than your shop, what is another shop you would say is a must-visit?
The area where Anna & Juan’s shop is located, is close to Ida Platz - a charming little square surrounded by bars, restaurants and nice small boutiques. Two of our favourite shops are Duplikat, a stationery and book store with a beautiful selection, and Norkind, a wonderful store with curated household goods that is owned by a couple of designers.

6) Thoughts on the yarn trend?
Usually we don’t follow trends, at least not consciously. We started developing this project five years ago while Josefina was doing her Masters. If we would have followed what seemed to be the “future” of textiles back then, we would now be working with LED lights. But we decided to follow our guts, and instead we turned to traditional processes with a modern approach. We are mostly inspired by independent designers and artists’ work, which we like to follow through social media.

7) What was your motivation to open your shop?
Josefina used to have a small clothing company back in Argentina. Luzius has a background in graphic design and illustration. We met at a sustainable summer school in Germany in 2010 and later on decided to do something meaningful and take responsibility as designers. We started studying natural dyes and local materials like wool, linen and dyeing plants that would grow easily in Switzerland. We love textiles, especially hand-made ones. Textiles tell stories. The experience of learning something new, being in contact with material (yarn, thread, fabric, color) instead of staring solely at a screen, and also sharing this passion of ours with other people is both inspiring and powerful.

Photo credits : Anna & Juan

Stockist Highlight: Fibre Space™

KOEL Stories

KOEL first came across fibre space™after seeing rave reviews of the workshops they conduct. As a publication that supports continual learning, we of course had to find out more about this lovely yarn store in Washington DC. Owner, Danielle Romanetti, took time off her busy schedule to share with KOEL more on this community hub – a haven for a growing crafting community.

1. Tell us more about Fibre Space.
fibre space™ specializes in unique yarns and fibres from hand dyed, independent, local and U.S.-made sources for knitting and crochet. We are known for our wide selection of classes, designer workshops, yarn tastings, movie nights, and other community building events. We are located in historic Old Town Alexandria, VA just outside Washington, DC.

2. What motivated you to start Fibre Space?
My shop is really an extension of my original business – Knit-a-Gogo, Inc., which I opened in October of 2006 to offer knitting classes in the DC metro area. Initially, I taught beginner and intermediate classes at coffee shops, bakeries and even public libraries in and around Washington, DC. Utilizing these spaces required a solid relationship with the businesses that hosted us and has led to the collaborative philosophy that fibre space™ now maintains. As my customers grew in number, so did the community of knitters and crocheters, number of classes being offered as well as my staff of instructors. Eventually, the Knit-a-Gogo community really needed a permanent home – a place where stitchers could meet outside of classes, buy quality supplies and and share with other stitchers. In 2009, this dream became a reality when Knit-a-Gogo became fibre space™ and opened its doors in historic Alexandria, VA.

3. How did you originally get into yarn crafting?
My grandmother taught me to knit when I was probably five or six years old. At the time, I made a garter stitch scarf for my Cabbage Patch dolls. I re-learned to knit in graduate school while visiting her again and haven’t really put it down since. My mother was always an avid crocheter, and she taught me to crochet when I was a teenager.

4. What’s your go-to source of inspiration when you craft?
I’ve been using Instagram lately for most of my inspiration. The “maker” community on Instagram right now is really amazing, and I’m always finding new things that I want to make.  Sometimes I am even inspired by a piece posted by a local boutique that I know I can duplicate on my own!

5. On a typical day at Fibre Space, you will see…
On a typical day at fibre space™, you will find a few folks sitting in our lounge area stitching away. There are always new boxes of yarn arriving, and those who are here when we start opening boxes usually get to enjoy the first snuggles with the new yarn!

6. What’s the most popular class at Fibre Space? Tell us more about it!
Our most popular class right now is still our Introduction to Knitting Class. We still have more men and women take that class than anything else that we offer. Our introduction class teaches all of the basics – from knitting and purling to “tinking” and binding off. We also cover knitting lingo and the world of Ravelry.comand other online communities for this craft. For the busy DC area, this is really a great way to relax and meet people that they might not otherwise run into.

7. Share with us your most memorable customer to date!
We had only been open a day or two and had just locked the doors up for the night. A young couple came running from the burger place across the street and peered in through our front door, looking VERY excited. I went and unlocked the door and invited them into the shop. After spending a few minutes browsing around, they came to the counter with armfuls of yarn and told me how excited they were that there was a new yarn shop and that they were planning to move to Old Town soon. Her boyfriend paid for the yarn for her, and I remember telling her to keep him around because he supports her “habit.” They became one of our most loyal customers, and I never forget how important it is to welcome everyone – even after hours! Their engagement shoot was done with a pile of yarn purchased from our shop and they now own a home in Alexandria, where they are raising their toddler. She’s a good friend too!

Photo credits: fibre space™

Stockist Highlight: Fringe Supply Co.

KOEL Stories

Ask any seasoned craft lover if they know who Fringe Supply Co. is, and we can almost guarantee that the answer will be “yes!”. So, when we found out that the famous quality supplies retailer is going to be one of KOEL’s stockists, we went mad! Mad, in a good way of course. We are such big fans of the Fringe Supply Co. store, and the fine curation it carries; from Bookhou to Sashiko threads, and even their Fringe Originals – we love them all! Owner, Karen Templer, had a chat with us recently and shared on her journey into the wonderful world of yarn.

1. Tell us more about Fringe Supply Co. When did you set it up and what inspired you to do so? I learned to knit in October 2011, and by December, I had started my blog. It had a different name at that time, but was renamed Fringe Association in fall of 2012, and out of the blog grew the product side of the business, Fringe Supply Co. Both the blog and the shop were inspired by my difficulty in finding what I wanted as a new knitter — both in terms of pattern/content/inspiration and in terms of good quality bags and tools with a nice clean aesthetic. So I took matters into my own hands, I guess!

2. Your store is an amalgamation of well-curated supplies. How do you decide what items to sell and what are your main pre-requisites to your choices?
I sell a really limited number of items and don’t change it up very often — which is not the way you’re supposed to do it! But, I only sell things I personally deeply love and use. If I’m not dying to abscond with a thing, then I don’t make it or sell it. It really has to come from me wanting it, using it and believing in it. And that means bags and tools that are not only great looking, but also really well made and meant to last. I care about natural materials, ethical sources, quality construction — goods you can feel good about owning, and that make your knitting life more efficient, organized and beautiful.

3. What’s your star pick from the store?
The Field Bag is definitely the star of the show these days, and my proudest moment. This is the second bag project I’ve designed and produced, and the response to it from all over the globe has been unbelievable. Seeing it factoring into people’s daily lives and travels through their Instagram photos is an experience I could never have imagined. (My first project bag proved to be a big hit, but not so well suited for production, so I worked with Grainline Studio to turn it into a sewing pattern for home sewers, and that’s called the Stowe Bag pattern.)

4. What’s the thing you love most about knitting?
Oh gosh, what *don’t* I love about knitting? I love the tactile nature of it, the creativity, the ability to make whatever I want for myself (as opposed to being subject to the marketplace), having it to sit down with at the end of long, hectic days. I’ll never stop finding it magical to turn a pile of strings into a sweater. But — this is going to sound really corny — I think my absolute favorite thing about it is the community of people it introduced me to. My best friends in the world are people I’ve gotten to know through knitting.

5. Do you have a favorite project so far? Could you tell us a little more about it?
Generally whatever I just finished is my favorite thing, but I’m particularly attached to the Anna Vest I knitted this spring. It’s a pattern I wrote for the Farm to Needle book, and the sample was knitted by a sample knitter and then sent off to be photographed for the book, but I really wanted this garment in my closet! So I knitted one from some black Terra I had in my stash, and it’s just the best little layering piece, and a perfect marriage of yarn and pattern.

6. What can we look forward to from Fringe Supply Co. in the next 2 years or so?
More life-improvement through good bag design mostly. I’ve got lots of stuff up my sleeves and would love to produce it all at once, but knitting and Fringe have both taught me patience, so I’m taking it one by one. You’ll see it all in good time!

Photo Credits: Fringe Supply Co.