Four years ago, a chance meeting at a trade show led to a partnership that has been both rewarding and fun. It is hard to put into words the satisfaction of having an idea and working with a perfect partner to make it happen. Angela Smith of Purl & Loop, who was most of the way there with her Stash Blaster looms, took a leap and modified her loom line to create a series of tools that make swatching for rigid-heddle weavers more accessible, enjoyable, manageable, and useful.
Angela will tell you it was one of those moments where her first reaction was to say, “no”, but she decided to take my call and we clicked. She saw in her mind’s eye the solution to my dilemma. We talked about our journey together on the Craft Industry Alliance podcast. (Note: My audio is a bit wonky because of the poor upload speeds in my area.) Angela has been a generous and seriously savvy collaborator. We both let each other do what we do best and found ways to support each other that were meaningful and frictionless. We just work well together.
Angela’s passion for her business, Purl & Loop, was in the creativity involved in manufacturing the looms. She has a MBA with a concentration in operations management. (Also an English major, Peace Corp alumni, and an investor in a vineyard in Argintina. Fiber people have the most interesting back stories.) She loved the challenge of figuring out how to make the looms and packaging them in practical and beautiful ways.
The satisfaction of building a small business from the ground up is both a creative act and a test of your will. Angela did all that and more. When she made the decision to move on to other ventures, she talked to a number of folks about selling the business, but didn’t find a good fit. I asked Angela if she would consider letting me take over the production of just a portion of the line and not the entire business. I was delighted when Angela jumped at this opportunity to switch roles. She is now the consultant and I’m the manufacturer.
What to Expect Going Forward
What this means is I’m working with Angela to produce the Swatch Maker 3-in-1, Swatch Maker in setts 8, 10, and 12, the Sett Checker, and the appropriately sized accessories—comb, pick-up stick, and shuttle, under the Yarnworker brand. These tools have become really important to the Yarnworker learning space. I’m not in a position at the moment to offer these looms at wholesale for other vendors and I’m not committing to the entire loom line.
Angela retains the patent to the 3-in-1. She is serving as a paid consultant to help me develop appropriate systems, and I’m delighted that Hector, who lives down the street from Angela, has agreed to stay on to help with production.
To accommodate the rebranding, I need to make some adjustments to the Yarnworker logo, something I’ve had in the works for a while. I anticipate this process to make adjustments to the loom line will eight to ten weeks. I do have the remaining Purl & Loop stock listed in the Yarnworker shop. Look for new stock in early Summer! (Update to add: Always the optimist, I way underestimate the timeline to bring these looms to the Yarnworker shop. The looms should be available in mid October.)
How frequently the shop is updated remains to be seen, but my goal is to keep these tools available for weavers who believe in the power of following the “What If?” on a small scale in order to size them up on a much grander scale.
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