Podcast with Judy Scott-Hammerquist
It’s been awhile since I last connected with all of you. The beginning of 2016 has been a very busy year for me. I wanted to slow down a little bit for the month of May and focus on interviewing more people for my podcast and to get ready to launch my online magazine this fall.
I had a remarkable opportunity to interview another dear friend of my from my knitting circle. I hope you enjoy this podcast.
By Diane Ivey
CEO of Lady Dye Yarns, LLC
Episode #2: INTERVIEW WITH BARBARA SILETSKY
I had the opportunity to sit down this past Sunday with an incredible woman and friends, Barbara Siletsky. I met Barbara ten years ago when I moved to Boston and I joined her knitting group. This podcast episode is “straight-talk” conversation with a fun and caring woman about her experience growing up in Boston as a young Jewish girl and what the “knitting scene” was like. We discussed Barbara’s hope for future generations when it comes to diversity in our world since she has a smart and wonderful granddaughter, Jordan, who is bi-racial. Barbara always keeps it real and that’s why I love hanging out with her!
As we continue the discussion about diversity in the yarn industry, I wanedt to take the time to interview someone who
1. Has been knitting for a long time and who could offer their own perspective on knitting.
2. Provide personal stories and experiences
3. Give wisdom is us “young folk” about the future
I had the honor to interview Barbara. We hope you enjoy!
By Diane Ivey
CEO of Lady Dye Yarns, LLC
Lady Dye: The Yarn Vibe
PODCAST EPISODE #1
A couple of months ago, I wrote a blog post regarding the lack of diversity in the yarn industry. I was inspired by Viola Davis’ Emmy winning award speech for which she discussed the lack of roles for women of color in the film industry.
Her words of inspiration allowed me to reflect on my own experience as a minority business owner in the yarn industry. When I wrote the blog post, I wanted to share my opinions and feelings on what was going on in the industry. Since then, I have received many compliments and words of encouragement from so many people regarding what I wrote. But the biggest question that many people had for me is, “What will you do next?”
After much thought, I believe it’s important for me to address the issue of diversity in the yarn industry and one way I will be doing that is through podcasting. That is correct we have launched our podcast titled “Lady Dye: The Yarn Vibe”
This podcast is not to “complain” or focus on the “negative” aspects of diversity in the yarn industry, but to have:
1. An honest discussion about the current representation of diversity in our industry
2. To highlight diverse populations of people from designers, dyers, bloggers, and knitters.
3. And finally, sharing the rich cultural history of textiles from around the world and the impact it has had in our present industry.
I am so honored to have as the first guest, McKenzie Mullen.
McKenzie Mullen has spent the last two years working and teaching at yarn/fabric stores and has recently migrated from Oakland, California to Boston, Massachusetts. Her passions are knitting and sewing garments to create a long-lasting handmade wardrobe. She identifies as fat-positive, latina, queer, and femme and is currently in grad school to decolonize archives.
Yarn Industry Should take notes from Viola Davis’s Speech
By Diane Ivey
This past Sunday, I was spending a relaxing evening knitting and drinking wine while preparing for my week. I haven’t watched television in a long time so I could focus on MY BUSINESS. Because of that, I missed the Emmy Awards but when I looked on social media all I could see were tweets and Facebook posts about the phenomenal actress Viola Davis and her acceptance speech for taking home the Outstanding Lead Actress in a drama series…and for being the first African-American woman to be acknowledged! We love you Viola Davis!
Davis began with a quote from Harriet Tubman. “In my mind, I see a line. And over that line I see green fields and lovely flowers and beautiful white women with their arms stretched out to me over that line but I can’t seem to get there no how. I can’t seem to get over that line.” Davis then said, “The only thing that separates women of color from everyone else is opportunity…You cannot win an Emmy for roles that are simply not there,” Davis said. (Watch Viola Davis’s full speech HERE.)
I was profoundly moved. Now, many people will agree and others will say that all women have had struggles in any industry and are still trying to fight their way through the glass ceiling. That may be true but put race on top of gender, and there is a whole other story to tell.
Look at the yarn industry. YES, I said it! The yarn industry has hundreds and thousands of yarn companies that make gorgeous yarn. I know this because 1).I am a yarn business owner, and 2) I have amazing yarn from other companies in my yarn stash. The yarn industry also has amazing knitwear designers, really cool magazines, and wonderful social networking websites. We love you Ravelry!
- Now, I want you to tell me OR just name three minority owned businesses out of the hundreds of thousands of yarn companies (commercial and indie dyers) that have a national audience.
- Name three minority knitwear designers that have been asked to teach, speak, or show at The National NeedleArts Association Trade Show, any of the Stitches Conferences, your local conferences or knitting Guild meetings. Anyone?
- Show me five knitting magazines or books from this past year that have a diverse representation of minorities or men on their covers and inside their magazines.
- Show me the number of articles that have been written in the last five years about minorities in the knitting community?
Do you get it? For most of you who knit and understand the knitting community, you wouldn’t be able to complete this list because there is an EXTREME lack of diversity in the yarn industry. And here is the usual response I get after bringing up that point: Well minorities do not knit….
As a knitter and African-American woman business owner in the yarn industry, I know many minorities that knit and I know some minority knitwear designers who I have met at shows – and I know there are more. Yet I have yet to find a yarn company or indie dyer in addition to myself who has attended a local or national show. In fact, between my attendance at the The National NeedleArts Association trade show in 2014 and the recent Stitches Conference, I was the only African-American business owner at these two shows. Why is this? I am sure there are other minority business owners out there. And I am not just talking about African-Americans. Yes, I am black but I know Latinos, Asians, and Africans who knit or crochet. Why are we not represented well in the knitting community?
As whole, I believe the yarn industry needs to do a better job at addressing the lack of diversity in our community especially among knitwear designers, speakers, and images in magazines, and by reaching out to minority-owned yarn stores and dyers. We live in a diverse society and social media has changed the way that we communicate and connect. Since knitting magazines started out way back in the early 20th century, white men and women of grace those pages of magazines during a time where race and racism was extremely prevalent. Yes, it has changed slightly over the years but the racial disparity of the past continues to reflect what we see in the present. There are systematic racial issues that the yarn industry needs to address.
I can go on Ravelry, Instagram or Facebook and see diverse groups of people who have similar interests and I follow them online. I should also be able to see a representation of people from all backgrounds at conferences as speakers, teachers, owners, and designers. They are out there but individuals at the top of the yarn industry need to make the effort to want to make these changes. Attitude does reflect leadership.
And just because you see people in the knitting community who look like you and who have the same interests, it does not mean that there isn’t room for improvement. I feel that the lack of diversity in the industry is also because those who see themselves represented turn a blind eye.
I said on a recent Facebook post that I see Ms. Tubman’s quote that Davis eloquently repeated. I see the line in the yarn industry as there are many white women represented in every aspect of the industry while minorities and men are left out. I ask myself “what am I trying to do in becoming a national brand?” Yes, it is a huge undertaking and I believe in my product. I believe it is unique and different. I am speaking to urban knitters and crafters. I am here to stay and crossing the race line will be hard and arduous but I am in it for the long haul. WHEN I CROSS THAT LINE, I WILL BRING WITH ME OTHER PEOPLE WHO REPRESENT THE COLORS OF THE RAINBOW!
Long time no see!
This week we’ve been out in Schaumburg Illinois (near Chicago), at Stitches Midwest! There’re over a hundred vendors here, and we’ve been having a great time making connections with vendors and buyers alike. Stephen West visited our booth today, which was very exciting! We really like how our booth is set up, and it’s been such a thrill to be in such an energetic environment with all these people who are just as excited about yarn as we are! Here are some photos for those of you watching from home
Before we got to setting up the booth, we drove over to Ikea (both Diane and Anthony’s first time inside of one!) and got some additional items we needed for set up
After that, it was off to the convention center to set up our booth! It was a lot of work, but it was worth it (despite what Amy and Anthony’s faces might imply). Here’s our booth at about half-way set up
We had some last-minute labeling to do, but we had a fun time at it!
Here’s another shot of our booth- this was on the first day that the floor opened up for sales
Look at all the people waiting to get in! The MC for the hall was a hoot, and everyone was really excited to get in
And here we are making sales at our booth
We’ve been having a great time so far at Stitches Midwest, and hope that the rest of the weekend goes just as well!
A big thank you to everyone who’ve helped us get to where we are today, and we look forward to the adventures that Lady Dye Yarns will go on in the future!
Hi everyone! Want to check out Lady Dye yarn up close and personal, and have a drink with us while you’re at it?
We will be hosting a yarn tasting this Thursday, 9/18 at JP Knit and Stitch. We’ll have lots of cool product for you to check out, as well as some yummy drinks courtesy of Streetcar Wines. It’s gonna be a blast, come hang out!
Hope to see you there!