I am so pleased to be introducing myself to you as the new chair of the Yarn Group, our product segment of TNNA. I am co-owner of Kelbourne Woolens, along with my business partner Kate Gagnon Osborn. Kelbourne Woolens distributes and provides pattern support for The Fibre Co. yarns in North America.
I have been in the industry since 1999, beginning at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago where I studied weaving. During that time, my professor, Lindsay Obermeyer, hired me to work at the Weaving Workshop, a local yarn shop. It was my study of weaving that landed me a job there, and it was at the Weaving Workshop that I learned to knit and crochet. I fell in love with knitting, and after graduating with a degree in Fiber and Material Studies from SAIC, I moved to Philadelphia. After a brief stint bartending and cleaning houses, I found Sophie’s Yarns, later to become Rosie’s Yarn Cellar, and asked owner Lisa Myers (now the Manos del Uruguay distributor) for a job. It was with Lisa that I began attending TNNA as a buyer. I learned to design with Lisa’s encouragement, and in years to come I published designs in Interweave Knits, Interweave Crochet, and Vogue Knitting. Kate and I founded Kelbourne Woolens in 2008 while working together at Rosie’s, and together we have not only grown The Fibre Co. brand, we have co-authored two books with Interweave Press, have appeared on Knitting Daily TV, launched a Craftsy video, filmed two instructional DVDs, and traveled across the country teaching knitting and crochet design and technique at local yarn shops, retreats, and conferences. Along the way I have met and worked with so many incredibly talented people, too numerous to count. I have grown up in this industry, and have been lucky to see it from many different angles.
As the distributor of The Fibre Co. yarns I have gained a lot of insight into the manufacturing side of our industry, and – taking a cue from the many talented and patient women who mentored me along my journey – I have strived always to build meaningful partnerships with the retailers, sales representatives, mills, designers, and consumers I work with. The yarn industry raised me, and for that I am truly grateful. In that vein, as Yarn Group chair, it is my mission to grow the industry – together with all of you. From yarn shop owners, wholesalers, publishers, teachers, designers, dyers, mill owners, fiber growers – we are the life of the yarn industry, and we are tasked with the responsibility of fostering and mentoring others so that our craft, and our livelihood, flourishes. I would ask that we all keep this at the forefront of the work we do, because there is room for everyone. To that point, I ask all of you to think about what TNNA, and more specifically, Yarn Group means to you. What is your role in the industry? What do you do to keep the industry strong? Who mentored you along your path, and how can you mentor our future leaders? We all have gifts to bring to the table, and small businesses are the innovators, trendsetters, and the community builders. Yarn Group and TNNA are volunteer run organizations, hence the saying, “It’s Your TNNA!” So, I ask that each of you contact someone in your community – a shop owner, designer, sales rep, manufacturer, supplier, craftsperson, or maker – and ask them to join us at Yarn Group! The more hands we have, the more we can build. The more minds we put to work, the more innovative our strategies can become.
I look forward to working for, and with, you all in the coming year to build Yarn Group from an organization that develops trade show initiatives, to an organization that provides value to members 365 days a year. After all, It’s Your TNNA - What do you want it to be?
The National NeedleArts Association advances its community of professional businesses by encouraging the passion and leadership for needlearts through education, industry knowledge exchange and a strong marketplace.
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