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Warm and Fuzzy

3 weeks ago by

Photos Erik Melvin
Stylist

Brie Welch

Discovering WOOLN changed my perspective on a lot of things, including being a working woman, getting older, and pursuing hobbies. And made me realize that “just like grandma’s” doesn’t only apply to food.

The brand of chic knitwear accessories is entirely hand-knit by New York City retirees. These women, endearingly referred to as “grandmothers,” really love to knit. And they’re incredibly skilled at it too. Producing what will be the brand’s third collection this year, the grandmas found a way to channel their long time love into a the best job they’ve ever had! Talk about retirement goals.

We invited WOOLN founders, Margaux and Faustine (two adorable French women) and 5 of their local knitters to come by for tea, a chat, and to dress up in some designer knits. It would end up being one of the best days in the studio – these grandmas know how to have fun.

lifestyle wooln garance-dore

 

 

 

 

 

Gloria

 

What was your occupation before you started knitting for WOOLN?

I was a flight attendant for 44 years – I loved it! I would knit on and off during that time, because we had a lot of downtime. I traveled to Tokyo and to South America a lot and would visit knitting stores there looking for wool and something different.

What made you want to start working again and join WOOLN?

Well, I don’t call this working, I don’t call knitting working. Even though I do say I’ll work for a small knitting company, but it’s very select, very quality yarns, beautiful stuff, and when you meet the girls, it’s just a beautiful idea.

What would you be doing if you weren’t knitting for WOOLN?

Well since I don’t spend hours and hours on it, I do other things, like yoga, meditation, tennis, golf, I walk, and have 6 grand-children.

 

 

 

 

Velma

 

How long have you been knitting how did you learn, and what was the first thing you made?

I started knitting in 1970. I learned from a book, they used to have these magazines for knitting and crocheting. So I did that for about three years, and then I got a job writing directions for Coats & Clark, and then I went to work for a yarn company where I wrote directions, made samples and designed.

How many hours do you spend knitting a day or a week?

Well there are 24 hours in a day [laughs] – I’m either working on a project for WOOLN if there’s a deadline, or one of my other projects, so a good 12 hours in a day, 7 days a week. I’m knitting all the time.

What’s one thing you wish everyone knew about knitting?

That it’s very relaxing! And that anybody can do it.

lifestyle wooln garance dore photo

Warm and Fuzzy

lifestyle wooln garance dore photo

 

 

 

 

 

Hollis

 

How long have you been knitting how did you learn, and what was the first thing you made?

I first learned to knit over 50 years ago. My grandmother taught me, it was a scarf, which is the easiest because it’s basically a straight line. It was full of holes and drop stitches, and a mess. But I was really proud of it.

What’s the most rewarding part of knitting for WOOLN?

When you receive something that someone hand-knit, you’re getting something that took a lot of time, a lot of patience, a lot of creativity. There are no two knit items that are identical. They have a personality, and they reflect the knitter. Margaux and Faustine trust us to make the things they’re selling – that’s a huge responsibility! If there were no knitters, there would be no WOOLN [laughs].

What would you be doing if you weren’t knitting for WOOLN?

I’d be knitting for myself.

Warm and Fuzzy

 

 

 

 

 

 

Annie

 

How long have you been knitting how did you learn, and what was the first thing you made?

My mother taught me when I was very young, maybe 6 or 7. I lived in France, and everyone was knitting. I think I made a scarf.

What made you want to start knitting for WOOLN?

I like the idea of knitting, and grandmothers in New York knitting, I thought it was wonderful, it’s a great idea. It makes people feel good, feel satisfied, keeps yourself busy. [laughs].

Are you proud of the things you make for WOOLN?

Yes! When you knit something really great and beautiful, you are proud of it. You have a satisfaction, it’s something you are rewarded with right away. It’s like gardening. I don’t garden, but I know people who garden. They like it.

lifestyle wooln garance dore

lifestyle wooln garance dore

Margaux and Faustine

 

How, when, and why did you start WOOLN?

Margaux: I’m an avid knitter and yarn lover and I’ve always wanted to create a business involving my passion for knitting. When I met Faustine early 2015 we both wanted to start a business, we had a great connection and instant trust. We filed WOOLN LLC early March 2015 (less than 2 months after we met) and started selling in September of that same year. We’re now working on our 3rd collection.

Faustine: Our tagline is, “wear clothes that matter” and the whole idea behind WOOLN concept is that it is possible to make clothes in a way that feels good for everyone, the maker and the consumer, and that is really something we feel passionate about.

Why was hiring retirees as knitters important to you?

Margaux: Being two French transplants in this huge city has played a great role in starting WOOLN. We felt seniors could play a bigger role in the community and be more valued. As Europeans, honoring elders is a big part of our way of living, so we wanted to incorporate that same feeling into our project.

Faustine: Having people who are retirees is important in the sense that we’re offering them a way to be contributing again, and to see their work rewarded: they’re valued by our customers who love the product they’ve just knitted. They feel proud and that’s the most heartwarming thing in the world.

lifestyle wooln garance dore

lifestyle wooln garance dore

How many items do the grandmas produce per season?

Everyone knits at their own pace, on their own schedule. Some knitters knit 10 pieces for the season, some others 10 a week! It really depends on how much time each grandma wants to spend on knitting for WOOLN.

What’s the best part about using NYC Grandmas as your production team? Any challenges?

Margaux: People with experience do things better. A knitter who has been knitting for more than 30 years has gold in her fingers and knits perfectly. Our knitters have a combined experience of over 4000 years, which really is reflected in the quality of our products.

Faustine: The fact that it is hand-made is probably our biggest challenge, because we need all the hats we sell to be exactly the same, but at the same time, we cherish the fact that it is hand made and that every product is different! So there needs to be a balance between perfection and having a product that is imperfectly perfect.

Purple MTV Sweater, Marc Jacobs ; Shaggy Cream Sweater, Tabula Rasa ; Pink Tweed Cardigan & Necklace, Chanel ; Striped Navy Blue Sweater With Gold Shoulder Details, Sonia Rykiel / Navy Oversized Sweatshirt, Pringle of Scotland

Thank you Margaux, Faustine, and all of the knitters at WOOLN! | www.wooln-ny.com

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38 comments

Add yours
  • Kathryn March, 2 2017, 10:15 / Reply

    I love this post! These women look so happy, their energy is amazing and beautiful. Thank you for sharing their stories and for the fantastic photographs ;)

  • I love this idea, I love the woolens. So many women out there don’t really want to be “retired,” at any age. Perhaps the founders of this amazing company could also look for women with less socioeconomic status to knit for them also? Anita

  • I am curious to know why you think these women are of a high socioeconomic status?

  • What a wonderful initiative! These ladies all look gorgeous and so radiantly happy, very contagious!

  • Just wondering why “shop the story” does not have WOOL knits, only from other designers?

  • Natalie March, 2 2017, 12:45

    Hi Debbie! You can shop WOOLN directly from the website which is linked in the intro and at the bottom of the post! You can also find the link here. x

  • Super article! En France, nous avons “les mamies tricoteuses” qui se font des vêtements pour nouveau-né!
    https://www.les-mamies-tricoteuses.fr/

  • Thank you for featuring a story that addresses the intersection of women in business, hand-made goods, and highly-skilled artisans who are of retirement age. In this country, community members who are of retirement age are so frequently stereotyped and dismissed, despite the astounding levels of skill and experience they harbor. And “grandma” skills and hand-made goods in particular – like knitting – are so under appreciated. It was thrilling to see your website feature a piece on young entrepreneurs implementing an innovative, inter-generational business model. Thanks!

  • Agree, agree! Thank you for the comment.

  • Love, love, love this post! Thank you for the intro to such a delightful business!

  • Oh mon dieu c’est tellement cute comme concept ! Et les modèles ont l’air fabuleux.

    J’adore l’idée qui me rappelle le tricot que je faisais avec ma grand mère plus petite (c’est elle qui m’a appris) :)

    Des bisous !

    Mido.
    http://www.bowsome.com/

  • ALL sorts of amazing :)

  • Sylvie March, 2 2017, 3:06 / Reply

    Great idea!

  • Benedicte March, 2 2017, 3:31 / Reply

    Voilà, je veux vieillir comme çà !

  • I love this story and the concept. So many people are figuring out how to honour the process of creating clothing and to know the provenance of the things they buy and use. Brava! But. I am disappointed that “Shop the Story” leads us to TopShop, H&M, shops that have not historically been part of the solution. The “Story” is one of conscious making and buying not just he appearance of the knitted garments.

    Thank you for listening.

  • This may be my favorite fashion post of ALL TIME!!

  • melissa March, 2 2017, 4:53 / Reply

    Please do more stories of women over 40, 50, 60 even. If style is ageless like we are told, then use this wonderful platform to continue sharing stories of stylish women of all ages. You do some, and I appreciate them, but I’d love to see even more.
    Thank you,
    a longtime 50 year old reader in Memphis

  • patty Patterson March, 2 2017, 4:57 / Reply

    This is amazing! These ladies are contributing in a meaningful way and are being financially rewarded for their efforts. We should all be lucky enough to retire this way. It’s refreshing to see a hip, cool website that is not afraid to feature senior citizens. I agree with Erin, my favorite fashion post!

  • Enfin des photos de femmes matures ! Elles sont belles, enjouees et talentueuses, c’est un tres beau post qui m’a donne l’envie de tricoter. :-)

  • Beautiful photos, well written article, very cool ladies. Thanks for always keeping your readers updated on the latest trends, especially when they are coming from the “later aged” people. The WOOLN founders should be commended for their unique business model and cutting edge creativity. Articles like this keep me coming back to your website.

  • Quel beau projet ! ?

    Christine

  • #ubercool. LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this!

  • So cool, I love it!!

  • How beautiful!! I love everything about this post!

  • It reminds me of Golden Hook, a French brand with pretty much the same concept.

    It looks like it no longer exists…

    Timai had make a beautiful video with one of the grandmas: http://www.maihua.fr/2012/12/danielle-the-hook-of-elegance/

    I love it, I love it, I love it!

    xxx

    – Chloe
    http://consciousbychloe.com

  • Mr. Paul Jallon March, 3 2017, 2:48 / Reply

    Super ma grande ???

  • These photographs are marvellous Erik! and these women are amazingly beautiful!

    The happiness and the joy can be seen through these shots and it is wonderful. + the project is absolutely great.

    Thank you for this post, it juste made me happy :)

  • Love this! Brava to these ladies. Would love to see more stories that feature ordinary yet fabulous women of a certain age.

  • Finaly ! A post with aged people and people who trust them ! I wish we could hear more stories like this, because so true, aged people have gold abilities (I’m 30 and dying to get such abilities)

  • Ah, le tricot, on n’y revient toujours au final ;-)

  • Made in France et handmade…
    http://gangdegrandmeres.fr/fr/
    Magnifique idée!

  • You just made my day with this great brand, great concept, and great story and pictures.

  • This is the 1st. time I ever felt compelled to make a comment on your website. I have been following Garance Dore for a long time and really enjoy all the articles. But this one was exceptional. It’s not about movie stars, or trend setters, or fashion icons. It’s about real people who could be me. Thanks for recognizing regular folks who have a lot to contribute.

  • J’adore ! J’avais vu ça en France y’a une dizaine d’années ausssi, j’adore cette idée.

  • Alison March, 5 2017, 9:50 / Reply

    I LOVE this! I want to work for Wooln when I grow up xx

  • Ces femmes sont tellement souriantes et pétillantes, un vrai bonheur de les regarder !

  • Hi,

    The site doesn’t have any sweaters on sale, just beanies. The sweaters in the story are by other brands.
    xxx

  • I have been following and enjoying your website for a long time and this is the 1st time I felt compelled to comment. This article is THE BEST. It is so refreshing to read about real people- not movie stars, fashion models, famous stylists or beautiful young people. These women are just regular folks (like me). They are doing something cool that they enjoy and the French girls who started this company are heroes for providing this kind of opportunity. Thanks for a great story!