Wool And The Gang—a knitting brand, shop and clothing line founded by Lisa Sabrier and Carolyn Main, from the Swiss Alps and Auckland, respectively—takes all the comfort associated with Grandma’s craft and infuses it with a shot of cool. The pair launched WATG in 2007 with DIY patterns intended to bring a personal touch and sensibility back into a world of mass production. Last November, they opened their first storefront in New York’s Soho, where they hold classes, retail yarn and design—along with Central Saint Martins knitwear graduates Aurelie and Jade (featured above)—their seasonal collections.
Here we give you a peek into their creative world, courtesy of Dossier contributors Jenni Avins and Perry Santanachote’s audio slideshow above and some additional insights below.
Erin Dixon: Which country has the best sheep?
Wool And The Gang: We have an engagement with Peru. They are not only the best provider but also amazing knitters. Knitting is part of the Peruvian tradition. It was really important for us that the sheep we source our yarn from had a good lifestyle and [were] treated well by their shepherds. The uniqueness of our CSW [Crazy Sexy Wool] delivers extra soft fibers and thermal properties, and the sheer density of the yarn is perfect for a beginner to start knitting with.
Erin: For spring, you mention Chanel, the Bauhaus, etc., as inspirations; what is on your mind for fall and beyond?
WATG: Fall will be the Crazy, Sexy Wool time, inspired by our denim addiction. WATG will make the wool reflect basic denim pieces, the color and shapes, but transformed into knitwear. The must-haves of the new season include stonewashed and dark blue colors, with our little jacket and new scarf, which can be worn in multiple ways and styles.
Erin: How much of your own wardrobes is handmade by you?
WATG: Of course we knit everything for all Wool And The Gang collections, which become part of our own personal wardrobes. We love adding our own mark on WATG pieces, to make them personal to us and unique, which we always encourage our customers to do too. We love to customize our clothes with chains, ripped-up denim, beads and patches. We love wearing our CSW [Crazy Sexy Wool] to wrap up in New York winters, SBA [Sugar Baby Alpaca] in the cool breeze of spring and fall, and our SHC [Shiny Happy Cotton] is perfect for warm summers.
Erin: How much of a new design do you project and how much evolves organically during the knitting process?
WATG: When designing for knitwear, it mainly evolves through trial and error. This is one of the most exciting parts of the design process. We start off with our inspirations and mood boards created by our style director in Paris, but during the textile development is really where our collections take form. There are endless possibilities between different types of yarn and needle sizes, which we explore during this process. When we are happy, the prototypes are knitted.
Erin: Why is knitting an important craft to preserve?
WATG: Just like all kinds of handmade and art-craft techniques, taking the time to make, having the opportunity to be creative, having the patience to wait for the final product, receiving the pleasure of succeeding in making the item and taking the time to imagine who will be the lucky one receiving your “wool treasure” as a gift…all of these reasons are worth pushing the art of making your own wardrobe.
Erin: What makes it so therapeutic?
WATG: Suddenly you focus your attention on your hands’ power and creative spirit. Suddenly you stop time and take it slowly to make fashion happen. Suddenly you stop thinking of your daily troubles and are focused on your knitting affair… Suddenly you feel proud of making knitting come to life. It’s a little like doing sports, cooking and any other kind of creative hobby; you learn again what time, desire, patience, effort, failure and success really mean.
Erin: What is the biggest misconception about knitting?
WATG: We think the biggest misconception is that knitting is hard. Wool And The Gang patterns are easy to follow and all our styles are modern and unique, with a fashion spirit.
Erin: Snoods or scarves?
WATG: Snood is cool. Scarf is chic. Both are necessary
Erin: What defines a gang and who makes up yours?
WATG: For us, a gang means a team of various people all sharing the same values—even a crew ready to live or die to represent their ideas. Wool And The Gang would share knitting tricks and passion all around the world, and funkiness forever. Our gang covers the globe: We are based in New York, London, Paris and Geneva.