Boy loves girl.
Girl loves yarn.
Yarns of Italy was born.
When Alex the importer met Kim the pastor in a coffee shop in Springfield, Missouri, there was no yarn in sight. As they began to date, though, Kim brought the yarn out and started knitting or crocheting whenever she was sitting still. Eventually, Kim had to take Alex to her favorite local yarn shop to meet the gals and share why yarn was her other great love.
Alex said, “The best yarns come from Italy.”
Kim said, “Seriously… everything awesome can’t come from Italy. According to you, Italy has the best wine, the best clothes, the best shoes, the best men, and now the best yarn?”
Carol, the LYS owner said, “Well, he’s right about the yarn.” So on Alex’s next trip home, he was tasked with bringing Kim Italian yarn. He brought twine and raffia because they looked “different.”
After being schooled in yarn by Kim and Carol, Alex came home with a suitcase full of yarn samples from producers to test in the American market through an Etsy store. It turned out that Alex’s Italian home was 30 minutes from Biella, la citta della lana. On the next trip home, Alex took Kim with him, and they met with yarn producers in both major yarn districts.
They chose to work with the family-owned producers who have been in business for generations and carry that long experience into their production. They learned that all that tradition and experience sometimes meant that the producers weren’t all that technologically savvy. One order sat in a box for two months in Italy while the producer tried to figure out how to ship it to the US. It stayed in Italy.
After working with their producers for six months, they were able to decide which producers would consistently produce and deliver high quality yarn, and they traveled back to Italy to work with these producers to create their own yarns.
What you will see on yarnsofitaly.com is a selection of yarns from Italian producers who were selected with as much care as Kim and Alex take in choosing their yarns. Some were developed with YOI for their label; some were just perfect the way they were and carry the producer’s original label.
It is a risk to bring yarns from a country steeped in tradition and a sense of permanence to a market that seems to thrive on disposability, but Alex and Kim think it is a risk worth taking. When potential clients and designers touch these yarns, the expression on their faces says it all. These yarns are good. Thousands of yarn varieties were turned down in favor of these; they are the best hundreds of years of experience has to offer.
Alex loves importing. He loves Kim. Kim loves yarn. Kim loves Alex. They both love working together, and they both love hearing from customers who love good yarn. From start to finish, they consider their company not just their joint future, but a moment-by-moment labor of love. This is an Italian-style family business right here in the US, and here are the key members:
Alex is an Italian entrepreneur in love with the US. He came to Springfield working on a business plan to import Italian wine and cheese when he was sidetracked by a redhead with a balls of yarn everywhere. Alex is the company owner and takes care of the business side of things. He calls himself, “the monkey with the checkbook.”
Kim is a pastor with a lovely country church in the Ozarks. She spent 5% of her annual income on yarn before she met Alex. Much to Alex’s chagrin, she’s only down to 3%. Kim lived in central Missouri, Chicago, and Suzhou (PRC) before coming to the Ozarks for her pastoral appointment. She handles the creative end of the company, picking yarns with Alex, writing patterns for his yarns, and working with designers.
Wendi Polchow is Kim’s mom. Wendi is a retired landscape designer with encyclopedic knowledge of Missouri plants. When Alex gave her some yarn and asked her to dye it naturally, she took off, and Piemont Naturals (the dyeing branch of YOI) was born. Wendi creates colors from the native plants that grow near her lakeside home. As long as Alex keeps her in yarn, she keeps producing colors. She had to learn to knit to deal with the growing pile of yarn in her home, and now she knits display garments.