Now and then you come across a company that is warm and fuzzy and makes you feel warm and fuzzy on the insides too. Enter stage right, WOOLN, a line of alpaca, merino, mohair, and cashmere beanies that are hand-knitted in New York by a team of senior citizen knitters. Because beanie season is now in full swing, even in LA, I couldn’t imagine a more apt time to show some love and order up a few holiday gifts from these lovely women.
What I find particularly feel-good about this operation is the way they honor the craftsmanship these women have spent their lives honing, and they create a community around that. They give them a platform to do something they love and connect these fiercely creative and legendary New York ladies. I spent some time catching up with the women who make WOOLN possible, and I only wish I’d been able to fly out there to have some tea, and practice a few knit and pearls myself.
LF: How did you get involved in WOOLN?
Irma: My daughter sent me a link to the WOOLN website with a note: “Gorgeous hats and check out who’s knitting them! Think you should look into this.” I loved the hats and the concept. The idea that Margaux and Faustine were creating a team of grandmothers to knit their designs was very exciting. I sent them an email with some pictures of several items I’d made and was thrilled to receive a reply to come in for a chat. After knitting a sample, they welcomed me to the group.
Hollis: I saw an ad for “knitters wanted” on a bulletin board at a senior center and contacted WOOLN. I met Faustine in Washington Square Park. I rode my ” sweater bike” over so she could see a bicycle covered with all different colors and types of yarn, knit into very kind of stitch pattern, and sewn onto every safely coverable inch of my bike. I wanted her to know I knew how to knit. She hired me.
LF: What does WOOLN bring into your life?
Irma: Knitting is a true passion. WOOLN has given me an opportunity to do what I love using the very finest materials. Coming together with women of the same generation, who share a creative spirit, is a major highlight. It is a very special feeling working with young women who value and appreciate what seniors have to offer.
Gloria: Knitting has always been a part of my life. It brings up fond memories of the women (mother, aunts, and neighbors) in my past.
Hollis: WOOLN brings a sense of purpose to my life, and provides a camaraderie with like-minded people. The WOOLN team is an extremely diverse group of women of different races, religions, and nationalities, but we have a few things in common: We are all crazy cool, we have all lived long and have had many life adventures (which is a nice way of saying we are all old), and we love to knit.
LF: What does an afternoon knitting look like for you? Where do you sit? Do you listen to music? Do you have tea? Or any kind of rituals when it comes to knitting?
Gloria: An afternoon of knitting for me might be at the kitchen table with a cup of coffee or tea. It could also be sitting or standing at the playground while spending time with my grandchildren. I do knit on the subway as well, especially if I get a good seat and it’s a relatively long trip. If I’m at home knitting, I always have sound on… Either a podcast or my music.
Annie: I never knit a whole afternoon in the same place. I knit everywhere in my bedroom, on my terrace, on the beach, in the car, on a bench in the park, anywhere when I have a moment between my other activities.
LF: If you could give a message to the girls who are wearing your hats, what would you tell them?
Hollis: I would tell the guys and gals who wear the hats I knit to run in them, dance in them, smile and laugh in them. Wear them with joy because they were made with joy. I would also tell them to buy another WOOLN hat. One hat is never enough.
Velma: The garments usually do not get excessively soiled so there is no NEED to put these garments into the washing machine. Just soak in warm water with a little soft soap. Then rinse with cold water and wrap in a towel to remove the excess water and dry flat.
Irma: Appreciate that your hat is one of a kind, handcrafted especially for you. Share the joy of wearing our hats, give one to a friend or two.
LF: New York, as every place does, has changed a lot over the years. What was your favorite time there? Favorite neighborhood or apartment or job? What is your favorite thing about it now?
Irma: My husband was born and raised in NY and I moved here when we married. First impression – big, scary, so many people! But those were the years when businesses were closed on Sundays and we would take full advantage of the quiet streets of Manhattan. We were young and felt like the city belonged to us. When our first grandchild was a year and a half old, we gave up or house of 33 years in Queens and moved to Brooklyn to be close to our growing family. I can happily say, it was the best move! It has been our very good fortune to be part of their day-to-day lives as they grow.
Hollis: I have lived in NYC a looooong time. Every new year, I reflect on the past year and think, ‘This was the best year yet!’ because the city is always changing it is always new and exciting. Living in the Village in the middle of the NYU campus there is always the seasonal ebb and flow of students. It’s good when the kids go home for the summer (a bit more peaceful), and it’s GREAT when they come back (the neighborhood is re-energized).
Annie: I love New York city and I spend lots of time discovering new places.
Take a peek below at some images from WOOLN’s newest campaign and order yourself up one, or two, or five. Because like Velma said, “One just isn’t enough.”