2013 - The Best of Verb

I have to admit. I was a little afraid of 2013. I can be superstitious - and that ol' 13 hanging in the wings gave me pause. Though in reality, 2013 ended up being an astounding and wonderful year - filled with creativity and growth.

A Verb for Keeping Warm - A Year in Review

Stitches West 2013 brought us back to sharing a booth with Rosemary Hill of Designs by Romi, showcasing new designs and colorways just for the event. One of our favorite parts of the event is to see all of our customers and friends who visit from near and far. The icing on the cake was winning Most Beautiful Booth for the second year in a row.

We released Horizon
 in May and again in November; this incredible wool yarn line was grown 90 miles away and dyed with natural dyes.  We had the privilege to work with organic cotton farmer, Sally Fox, who grows the most beautiful and happy sheep on her biodynamic farm, Vreseis. A highlight to being so close to the farm was being able to participate in the shearing for the second batch of our yarn, with the skillful shearer Matt Gilbert.

The indigo fermentation vat was born in October with the help of local indigo grower Rebecca Burgess. Rebecca's work developing Fibershed, a non-profit invested in local dyes, fiber, and labor has become a resource we appreciate and support for all of its contributions to the community. In this instance it gave us composted indigo leaves to start a Japanese style fermentation dye vat. With the help of renowned artist and teacher Rowland Ricketts and Rebecca's guidance we now have an indigo vat made of live cultures. This style of indigo vat, raising it and maintaining it is an art in itself - one that we are just beginning to practice. We look forward to learning more about fermentation and indigo in the this upcoming year. 

Maiwa in Vancouver, B.C. held it's annual Textile Symposium. Adrienne and I flew to Canada for the first time to take classes with Bryan Whitehead, an artist and indigo dyer who lives in Japan. There they learned about the care of a live indigo fermentation vat and the many incarnations of the ancient art.

In July, Adrienne and I got to take a vacation! We went to northern Minnesota and enjoyed the lakes by kayaking and fishing (Kristine mostly kayaked and Adrienne mostly fished). Kristine visited Nebraska to see her Grandmother, Gertrude, who taught her the German way to knit when she was young. The vacation of course had to include at least a little bit of textiles. We toured the Bemidji Woolen Mill and Faribault Woolen Mill. Both mills provided a fascinating look into manufacturing with wool - and gave us a glimpse into how complex and challenging it is to be a U.S. based manufacturer. 

Seam Allowance moved into its 2nd year!  The goal to make 25% of your wardrobe is still going strong in 2013 with the members' skills developing considerably. Most members are wearing at least 25% handmade on a daily basis. Some members, including myself, are up to 50-100%. 

AVFKW Celebrated our 3rd year in our new space. At out 3 year anniversary party we asked folks to wear what they've made using materials available at Verb. We set up a photo booth and had an outstanding turn out! Way to go makers!

The first ever DIY Alabama Chanin Trunk Show was held at our store with an awesome and enthusiastic attendance. Many folks wore their existing Chanin pieces, shared their experiences, tried on clothing, and made swatch samples using the American produced knit jersey made by Alabama Chanin. All in all it was it was a great success proving it to be an event desired and inspiring. We are looking forward to April 2014 when the Alabama Chanin trunk show returns to the Verb! 

This year Jessie and Huelo accepted new challenges!  Jessie, our long time resident seamstress extraordinaire and sewing teacher is now employed at Chrome in San Francisco. This is an amazing company and Jessie will flourish with her great skills and talent. We are so happy for her and wish her the best. Thankfully she still teaches at AVFKW from time to time.  Huelo, our knit night hostess, AVFKW blogger, and blossoming knit wear designer is on her way to Bulgaria, where she was a peace corp volunteer, to work in marketing. We are very proud of them!

Sponsoring the Fine Wool Fiber Symposium for the second year was a great honor. We met many more artisans, farmers, and folks interested in California's future as a textile producer.

World Class Instruction
AVFKW strives to be a center for cultivating skills related to the creation of textiles. We host teachers from near and far who bring with them a wide set of talent and expertise. This year, we hosted Amy Herzog knitwear designer, and author of Fit to Flatter. Emily Wessel of Tin Can Knits brought her trunk show and knitting expertise to AVFKW all the way from Scotland. Rebecca Ringquist, author and embroidery artist from New York, came to Verb twice. Stephen West of Westknits, traveled to AVFKW from Amsterdam to teach class and meet folks. Alissa Allen came from Massachusetts to teach mushroom dyeing. Natalie Chanin came and shared with us her ideas about running a business, staying true to your creative spirit, while caring for the environment. Clara Parkes toured the U.S. on her Great White Bale Adventure and we were lucky to host her for an evening of tales. We also dyed one of the Great White Bale shipments. Gudrun Johnston, knitwear designer, joined us for the first time and taught a Shetland lace class in late October - that was quite a treat! Early in 2014, we are hosting expert pattern drafter, Cal Patch, and comic and knitting historian Franklin Habit

And let's not forget our cadre of local teachers - those who create the foundation for our skills in the fields of knitting, sewing, natural dyeing, spinning, and weaving - and make it possible for us to host more advanced classes and techniques. These great teachers include Julie Weisenberger of Cocoknits, Brooke Sinnes of Sincere Sheep, Michael Wade of Fiber Beat, Stacey Sharman of Peppermint Pinwheels, and our in-house staff: Karen, Adrienne, Mckenzie, and Vivian. Many of these teachers have their own textile-centered businesses. I am so happy that we are able to contribute to their businesses and grateful to their contribution to Verb. 

Choice Materials
One of my favorite parts of my job is procuring beautiful, unique, and inspiring materials. This year marked many inaugural products to the store that excel as the most choice and rare gems. AVFKW became a Brooklyn Tweed flagship store and participated in the incredible trunk show traveling the U.S. this year. With great anticipation we hosted Takako of Habu with her amazing clothing samples and endless amounts of out-of-this-world yarn. In an effort to further our investment in a well curated collection of fabric and sewing notions, I flew to Portland, Oregon for the Quilt Market. There I saw new trims, felt sewing kits, and the new collections of fabric - an added bonus was meeting fabric designers like Amy Butler, Liesl Gibson, Tula Pink, and Melody Miller.

We debuted a new illustrated project bag featuring Marcel, the french angora and Cleo the dachshund drawn by Lisa Congdon, an illustrator and local designer. It was incredible to work with her and hope to do so more in the future.  

Great Press!
In the September issue of Sunset Magazine AVFKW was listed by three esteemed locals as a destination spot in Oakland, not to be missed! In November our store was highlighted in AAA's VIA magazine. Diablo Magazine featured AVFKW's Horizon yarn in July, as an Editor's pick for their Best of the East Bay 2013 product. We cannot wait to make more headlines in the future!


All and all - a great year of making things and helping those around us to make things - our favorite thing to do!

And finally - my most dreamy accomplishment - in 2013 I received an opportunity to write a book on natural dyes - with my favorite publisher Abrams / STC Craft, with the help of Melanie Falick, an amazing editor and visionary. 

With that said, I'm going to take a couple months to really focus on the book, which means I am taking a break from writing on the blog and from social media. Sarah and Adrienne promise to keep you entertained and in the loop of everything happening at Verb. Lots of great things coming up for 2014! So stay tuned!

Thank you so much for being part of the Verb community. I am so grateful to have been given this opportunity to know you and to support your textile producing habit!