Lisa Sabrier
and Carolyn Main
Founders of „Wool and the gang“ make knitting presentable again. Their fashion is an answer to the biggest longing of our present: More individuality.
„Wool and the gang “- members knit - and that with passion. Their shop in New York’s district Soho sells not only knitwear but also wool and guides as well as ready knitted pieces . The gang’s website helps the wool lovers with charming videos, memos and cheerful photos how to knit their own personalised work of art. Within just two years, the gang grew with each enthusiastic supporter, from teenagers to grannies, from Hipsters to Hippies. Together they celebrate the renaissance of the needlework. Especially, the fact that needlework was conceived as being stuffy and unsexy, was utilised by Sabrier and Main and they declared knitting to be the coolest hobby of all. Knitwear is since the perfect accessory, with which one can position oneself as a trendy avant-gardist.
exchangeable pedestrian zones there is need for uniqueness. In the vast choice of uniform mass-produced goods it is ever more difficult to find its own style. For it is easier to belong to the global herd of trendsetters. Authenticity, however, must be fought for. People are looking again for genuine values. And the feeling to possess somewhat really distinctive.
But it is more than just a trend. For the new movement from America, knitting not only means ease of the stressful „Sex and the City “- everyday life. In the light of coordinated life and
„Wool and the gang“ means less logos, no mass production, more heart and ingenuity.As a successful model the native Swiss Lisa Sabrier has travelled the world, seen fashion trends come and go. She knew the matter sufficiently. Her children however should learn to appreciate traditional values, family and feeling of security. They should understand that apart from the fun of live and all the rock n`roll it is important to have knowledge and a social conscience.
Knitting, a style of life? Clearly! Or how Sabrier expresses herself charmingly in French: Knitting is „savoir-faire“. Mais oui, ability. And „savoir vivre“ way of life. Knitting is the answer to one of the greatest aspirations of our presence: more individuality.
LS — In our world there are so many impressions and yet so much simplemindedness. In particular with fashion. Mostly it is about prestige, cloths with „Bling Bling“, which should imply that a material has a certain value. Self- knitted clothes are not about materialism but individuality. Today everyone sports the same lame mishmash.
LISA SABRIER — My gang is like my family. „Wool and the gang“ tells the story of meeting many different people, from completely different backgrounds and cultures, but with one goal: To re-discover true values.
Our shop in New York is the head quarter of „Wool and the gang“. We can rely on one another, exactly as we can rely on our material. Wool has simply a tremendous quality. Success proves us right. Although our idea was actually not an economic one. We wanted to create something more valuable in our superficial world.
A — What is the concept of the lewdness for wool in our current modern life?
ABOUT — What means „Wool and the gang“ for you and how was the idea born?
LS — The wool, which we sell and use for our collections, comes exclusively from the highlands of the Andes in Peru. The Alpaca sheep live in 3500 meters height. Alpaca wool is one of the finest wools in the world. It is soft and yet strong, and incredibly warming. We put a lot of effort in meeting the people from whom we receive the wool. We wanted that the production is done ethically, giving us a good conscious. Knitting is part of the
A — Where is your wool coming from?
Peruvian traditions. Alpacas belong to the national heritage of Peru. For more than 3000 years the Peruvians master the art of processing this wonderful wool.
A — What does your slogan „Crazy, sexy, wool“ mean?
LS — When knitting, you can just let go, also allow yourself to produce something crazy, be unconventional. And I find knitting something very sexy, very sensitive and physical. Wool is simply sexy!
A — For granny it used to be just handiwork, for the grandchildren today it is Punk. What do you think attracts young people to knitting suddenly?
LS — In our fast paced world young people search for genuine values. And they literally fished this feeling out of granny’s wardrobe. Knitting is like a beautiful custom, a hobby with sense and tradition.
A — Has „Wool and the gang“ a target group?
LS — No, I do not think so. Everyone can become member of our gang. Mothers, boys, granny, girls, managers. It has nothing to do with age or social background. You can be nine or ninety-nine, rich or as poor as a church mouse. Knitting can connect us. We see that in our shops as well.
A — What is your personal knitting history?
LS — The „Do-it-yourself “attitude was always part of my family. I have learned knitting quite classical from my granny. I believe I was only four years old.
A — Do you still remember your first self- knitted piece?
A — It is said that knitting is the new Yoga. What triggers handiwork in people?
LS — Yes, of course! It was a scarf for my brother. It looked dreadful. Inclined and bent. But I was very proud and gave him the scarf to Christmas. Naturally he had to wear it immediately. It is a beautiful memory somehow, like a souvenir.
LS — It makes you really addicted, I can tell you! It is reassuring and when you knit, the world around you stops for a moment. Your breathing becomes more relaxed. Knitting is all about completely fundamental needs. It is the time to listen into yourself, in order to remember. But knitting can be also very sociable. You can chat alongside and look after your children. Some people wrote us that knitting helped them getting through a difficult phase in their lives. That makes me happy.
A — How does it feel to hold a piece of self knitted art in your hands?
LS — Oh, that is a wonderful feeling. Of course, you are unbelievably proud. Then you think about all the effort and energy that you have put into your work. And each individual piece becomes a symbol for a time, a feeling and often for a person.
LS — No, that was certainly not planned. But today I am very proud of my little rascals, my private gang. By now, they are all by far better at knitting than me.
LS — Oh, there is so much. Because on a man wool particularly looks sexy. For example a thick wooly hat. Chic! Our best-seller is called „Snood Dog“ and it looks a bit like Rasta, very cool. Men love it! And naturally a cuddly scarf.
A — What would you knit for your man?
A — You are a mother of six children. Did you always want to have an extended family?
A — Why wool?
LS — Very simple. In a cold world, wool keeps you and the people that you love warm.
Not my thing. Also, I am not particularly ambitious. If I do not succeed right away in something, I usually lose interest. Well, here I am now, sitting at our kitchen table. My plan sounds daring: Become a gang member. Not of any gang. No, of „Wool and the gang”. But I could fail at the first and only entrance exam: Knitting. Jack Johnson sings quietly about Banana Pancakes. I would rather fancy them now, too. But the music is for the necessary mental peace. For the occasion, I painted the finger nails of my left hand with red and on the right hand with pink nail varnish. According to my own logic, the sharp colours will keep me awake and I will not get entangled with the directions. Play. The video begins.
Did not care two figs about knitting before she decided to become a gang member.
SINA schierenberg
Make a loop, the needle slides inside, wind the yarn around the other needle, tighten. Quite tedious to become a gang member. But after a short time I am absorbed in my work. Two on the right, two on the left…
Photos: Martin Bruno, Antoine Ricardou, Wool and the Gang, Privat
Copy: Sina Schierenberg
With special thanks at Lili Bonnet
Two delicate hands hold huge needles. A sugar-sweet voice explains calmly the first steps to me. The hands show how it is done.
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