I’m Anne Vally, a maker, knitter, sewist, writer and believer in the common good. I live and work in San Francisco.
I make kits for hand-knitters and hand dye yarn. I also write more broadly about knitting and making things by hand as a way to care for ourselves and others, about how to create more truly inclusive spaces, and about living (and doing business) in alignment with my progressive values.
I established Little Skein in 2013, and at its pre-pandemic peak in 2019, my business was a happy team of three. The Covid-19 pandemic, however, changed life in every way for nearly everyone. For those of us who are parents, we faced a hard truth (that some of us have known all along): our society has nearly no safety net for women and children. There are obstacles rather than support for Black, Indigenous and People of Color and people at multiple intersections of oppression.
In 2021, I shifted from “survive the pandemic” to thinking about where I fit in a permanently changed landscape and in a world where political, economic and social change is urgently need.
Little Skein is now a solo practice. PDF patterns are always available, but kits and yarn are restocked on Sundays during a weekly "shop update." This lets me block time for deep creative work, as well as manage the life impact that comes with living and working in a pandemic-changed world.
Writer Malcom Gladwell says you need to practice something complex for 10,000 hours to become a master. By my count, I’ve logged more than 15,000 hours as a small business owner, and about 8,000 hours as a knitter. I don't think of myself as a master in either domain yet, but I am adept. Learning with joy, integrating what I've learned, and adapting has been a through-line for everything I've ever done.
I still knit for a few hours every evening. Weekends are for sewing, and in 2020, I began work on a fully handmade wardrobe.
My work as a knitting artist
To understand why my yarn colors look the way they do, how I choose people to work with, what and why I write — you should know two things about me.
I think a lot about the idea of home and belonging. What does it means to feel at home: in a physical space, in your body, or in an emotional sense?
Grief, loss, and the fragility of life are constant themes in my work. I've had a lot of loss in my life, and grief is an old friend who visits me a lot. Being present in the current moment, being fully alive, and also recognizing how fragile life is — these things are deeply important to me.
In my making, this means: yarn colors are layered and complex, knitting patterns are designed to be intuitively worked with little guideposts along the way, and kits have extra attention to detail so that you feel treasured, cared for and a bit of ✨magic✨ when you open it. All in service of helping you make something beautiful, by hand, that becomes part of your everyday life.
My writing is on Instagram in 2200 character chunks and on Substack as a longer-form weekly letter. In these spaces, I explore the tensions between an economic marketplace and a community, between consumption and creation, and why equity is so important to me. I am always asking: whose voice is heard and valued and whose is left out or intentionally neglected?