Interview with Lanivendole

Italian yarn producers Lanivendole are sponsoring August of our year-long MAL. We chatted to Stefania and Guilia, the two women behind Lanivendole, about how they got started, and the processes behind their beautiful yarns and shades! 

What's the story behind Lanivendole, how did you get started?

The very first ideas were born out of Stefania running a fibre arts association, where she mostly held spinning workshops, and Guilia attending some of those classes. After some time, we made friends and soon realised that through the fibre arts association we were able to get to know many breeders around Italy to gather different local fibres. Initially we thought we could start selling handspun yarns using those fibres, while seeking out mills that could process them and make our own yarns.

It's amazing to think that our first batches weighed as little as 10 kilos! 

Your yarns are made using short chain production, can you tell the story of how your beautiful yarns get made?

Right from the start we wanted to make a product that could represent us and our heritage, and luckily we found a couple of mills in northern Italy that could work with our rather small amounts of fibres, and who were keen to make an artisanal product. In Italy most yarn mills produce textured and commercial yarn for fashion or big brands; we scaled to collaborate with just one of them. On our side we gather the fibres from breeders, we study the composition of our blends of fibres with the keepers, and find the most suitable types of yarn to spin, while the mill makes the yarn! 

The chain production is rather small, as some fibres like Aquilana wool we use for A Pure & Simple Wool is sourced and scoured in Abruzzo, and goes to Piemonte for washing and combing, then directly to the mill for spinning, and finally arrives to our warehouse for hand dyeing, skeining and finishing.

That’s the easiest production perhaps, for other yarns we use blends of different fibres together with wool, like alpaca and mohair, cashmere or linen; some years it’s tricky to find them due to lower farm yields, while our productions keep getting bigger. We've made peace with the issue that our bases can be temporarily out of stock sometimes, and we have to wait for new batches of fibers... of course we try to organise production to avoid this, but we like to think of our yarn as a product of living creatures and farms, reflecting the land and environment they come from. 

We always love talking about yarn shades! What is your process for choosing and developing the range of colours for your yarns?

We started dyeing thinking about the essential colours that had to be present in all our palettes. Soon afterwards, we had so much fun developing small collections on specific themes, such as 'what we saw from our windows' during the pandemic lockdown, or 'sorcerers and strong women of the past' for the launch of our Twisty Chic base. As we developed our colourways, we found that our sense of colour kept changing with experiences, seasons, and moods.

For instance, this year we started revising the palettes of our main bases, A Chic Blend and A Pure & Simple Wool. We found they looked a little bit incoherent, so we managed to cut some shades, slightly change some others, and create new ones, to make a collection of colours through bright and pastel tones - like a symphony of different instruments!

We still create specific themes for our Clubs and special editions, creating dedicated shades inspired by them... we actually have a good bunch of exclusive shades that we really should use for other projects, it's a pity they are still kept secret years after they were released!

You're a two woman team (just like Pom Pom when we started!) What have you learned from working together?

Yes, and they say it's hard for women to work together without fights and quarrelling! In our case that's never happened, and working together has helped us grow as people, friends, and colleagues!

One thing we learned is to accept each other's ideas and opinions and recognise the potential of one's intuition, even though it's different from what you had in mind. 

One other, for example, is to respect each other's time and availabilities; we live in different places, a one hour drive apart, and have quite different routines. We've learned to find the right times and ways to keep things going smoothly by chatting, frequent and long calls, or meeting in person if we have to deal with big stuff! Maybe our physical distance can be a resource, as we have learned to pause and reflect on the other person's proposals or difficulties before replying or giving alternative ideas.

We've managed to split specific tasks between us according to our attitudes, but both of us do all of the main jobs, so in that case we can substitute one another with no problems.

We always love your samples at shows (especially the Pom Pom ones!) How do you choose which ones to make?

Thank you! To be honest, this is one of our favourite tasks! As knitters we have an endless list of patterns to feature with our yarns, so when a new magazine is launched we start trying different combinations, and possible kits, of the garments we'd love to wear. It might be that when we develop a colour we already have a pattern in mind. The main problem is obviously an increasing lack of knitting time, but thankfully we have a lovely group of sample knitters to help us! 

 

Above: a sample of Lucky Pieces, taken from Pom Pom Quarterly: Issue 36

What is next for Lanivendole?

This year we will start to attend shows again, both in Italy and abroad.

When lockdown hit the world, we focussed on our website e-commerce, Clubs, and increased working with retailers. We travelled a lot around Europe in 2019, and our last show was at Unravel in February 2022 (our booth was quite close to Pom Pom's!) That was quite time consuming, and we felt almost relived to have some time to slow down and reorganise everything.

We are eager to meet people again though, and are hoping to organise a trip to the US in 2023, who knows! 

Alongside events, we have started thinking of a new base... a completely different yarn from the ones we are making at the moment. We haven't set a deadline yet, but we always have to challenge ourselves our we'll get bored!

Thank you, Stefania and Guilia, for your insightful answers! Remember, enter our MAL before the end of August and you could win 3 skeins of their A Chic Blend, and 3 of their brand new linen blend Aestiva. Best of luck, Pom Pals! Xx