August 7, 2017 Wendy Partain
We hope you're enjoying these origin stories. If
you haven't read all of them, we hope you'll visit the archive, sit down with your favorite beverage, and get acquainted with us.
All of us are shaped by our families and our environments. LucyBlueKnits is no exception. Today I want to share the story behind our creative environment, and how we came to work there.
We began creating mittens in the fall of 2006. Susie didn't have space at her house, but my attic is spacious. The idea of working there suited us because the sweaters, fleece, two sewing machines, and tables on which to cut and assemble could be left undisturbed. With nine children and three dogs between us at the time, that was very important! It was also convenient because Susie and I and my parents are neighbors: I live next door to my childhood home, and Susie lives just down the street.
Having a dedicated place to work helped us see LucyBlueKnits as more than a hobby and dream about its future.
We have always had designated work hours, and we met upstairs daily to design our prototype: a pair of mittens created from upcycled wool sweaters. We didn't realize how valuable our location was until Mom was diagnosed with a brain tumor in 2010. Although we were working right next door, we felt the need to be closer as her disease progressed.
The obvious place for us to set up shop was in Mom's basement art studio at our parents' home. Being just steps away from her room helped us juggle working, visiting her, and conferring with her caregivers throughout the day. Initially, we only schlepped over our sewing machines and a few IKEA bags of wool and fleece. We worked between the attic and the studio for months.
Tucked away in a corner of the basement, Mom's L-shaped, paneled
domain was full to the brim. Built-in cabinets and shelving space were reallocated with our supplies, and we settled into a space that was as full of our childhood memories as it was Mom's paints, canvases, clay, and fabric.
It was crowded, but it was only temporary.
After Mom passed away in August 2011, we thought we would move back to the attic. An unexpected development changed our plans.
Our sweet dad began to come down to the studio. Our work day would begin with him sipping his coffee and chatting. A man of few words, we quickly realized that he was communicating through this daily routine that he needed us there. There was purpose in our staying.
Shortly after, there was a flood and the entire basement had to be emptied. Decades of Mom's art were properly sorted and remain part of what has become our official workspace.
There are whispers of her everywhere—her paintings, her sculptures, photos of her—but ultimately her studio has become our place where we create, dream, work, invent, fix, design, and produce our LucyBlue products.
It is also a place of laughter and tears, problem solving and advice sharing, venting and encouragement. If you stop by to pick up your mitten order, you'll probably find us listening to a movie while we work.