The folks down in Funkytown don’t usually carry a pair knitting needles and a skein of yarn. But that's not stopping the folks at Wool and the Gang: they “get down on it” with all things woolen and knitted.
Wool and the Gang is a mix of tradition and fun fashion. The idea behind the company comes from multiple sources that range from family stories to women who are fun-loving fashionistas, and who wanted to launch a fashion concept that would be different, accessible, and inspire people to have a creative pastime.
The knitting kits were introduced in 2008 at Colette in Paris, and from there Wool and the Gang's kits and knitwear have been stocked at many high-end retail stores including Barney's New York, where the company hosted a "Wool School, Wool's Cool" event as part of Fashion's Night Out in September 2009.
What makes Wool and the Gang so mesmerizing to wannabe knitters and fashionistas alike? Wool and the Gang's knit designers, Jade Harwood and Aurelie Nicod comment that, "knitting has become part of a new phenomena in fashion—the DIY or 'do it yourself" trend, essentially an art craft revival that's been pushed forward by the recession, and that's been seized by trendy "It" girls who are proud to say, 'I did it myself.'" But they also note it's also about creating more personalized and customized pieces of fashion that expresses one's sense of style or as they comment, "It shows how much you are into fashion: you do it and you do it great."
According to the company, many of their customers first start knitting with them and become totally addicted to the knitting experience thanks to the ingenious kits that the company sells. Each Ready-To-Knit kit contains all the basic tools to knit and purl, including balls of premium quality yarn, one pair of wooden needles for great handle and sustainability, one pattern adapted for beginners, one knitter's sewing needle and customization material, which could include ribbons, patches of cloth, or ideas to make the piece your very own.
To make the knitting experience unique, the Wool and the Gang team searched the world for the right type of yarn. Their travels took them to the Andean highlands of Peru, where they met a breed of sheep that yielded soft wool with thermal properties, beautiful natural shades, and a bulkiness that the company coined as Crazy Sexy Wool.
A thick and heavy yarn (two stitches per inch), Crazy Sexy Wool is designed both for beginners and for all knitters who want to complete a project in a short period of time. Says Wool and the Gang's Nicod, "I fell in love with this yarn, and I love to create the basic designs of knit, but differently, and show how knitting can be easy, fun, fast and fashionable."
Other kits include Shiny Happy Cotton with an extra-soft and lustrous Peruvian cotton; Sugar Baby Alpaca--Wool and the Gang's first collection for babies; and the recently launched Sugar Baby Alpaca with designs geared for adults.
However, there's much more to what makes Wool and the Gang special to knitters: the company has a relationship with them. Wool and the Gang makes it a priority to answer their customers’ questions via their website, blog, Facebook and even Twitter. To top it off, free online video tutorials are offered for those who need further instruction.
Totaling 28 videos, each tutorial is simply filmed and clearly shows the step-by-step process, for instance, of casting on with two needles or with one—which can be a little intimidating for novice knitters. Other videos include correcting the dreaded dropped stitch – which Wool and the Gang's instructions makes so easy and that you almost want to drop stitches so you can fix them!
For those who are afraid to gets their needles clicking, Wool and the Gang sells a small range of ready-made knitwear—all from 100% Peruvian wool, alpaca yarn or 100% Pima cotton.
For you brave, crafty, DIY fashionistas: knit-up a Wool and the Gang chunky scarf and wear it to Ladies’ Night.
For more information about Wool and the Gang, visit their website, www.woolandthegang.com.
You might also consider attending one of their Paris store's Sunday Bazaars. The next one is March 7, at 80, qua de Jemmapes, Paris, 10th arrondissement. Or stop by their NYC store at 98 Thompson Street, between Prince and Spring.