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Welcome! I’m so glad you’re here.

I’m Anne Vally, a maker, knitter, sewist, and believer in the common good. I live and work in San Francisco.

I started Little Skein in the Big Wool in 2013 after a decade-plus career in philanthropy.

This might seem like an abrupt transition — from “wear a suit to meetings” work to “dress in overalls with dye splatters” work — but how I got here is an important part of my story. When my son was in kindergarten, I realized that despite what I’d been told as a young woman, women still can’t have it all. Office time doesn’t run on kid time, and I needed more flexibility than a traditional career afforded me. I had my own Great Resignation, just in 2013 instead of 2021.

I created Little Skein to bring beautiful handmade supplies to other makers and knitters in a way that says: this was built with you in mind.

In the nine years I've run it, I’ve leaned into my hand-making, drawing from my well of creativity as a designer and creator. I started out making kits for hand-knitters with yarn dyed by fellow creatives. As my vision for color grew more precise, I learned how to hand-dye yarn myself. I create my own knitting patterns, and one of my happiest moments was when I published a small booklet, with a fellow maker’s patterns, that includes my drawings and essays on making and equity. At its pre-pandemic peak in 2019, my business was a happy team of three.

The pandemic has changed life in every way for nearly everyone. For those of us who are parents, we've faced a hard truth (that most of us have known all along): our society has nearly no safety net for women and children, and obstacles rather than support for Black, Indigenous and People of Color and people who have 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 again. PDF patterns are always available, but kits and yarn are available only during monthly “shopping hours” (like an online pop-up shop), announced in advance in my newsletter. 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.

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.

ARTIST'S STATEMENT

To understand my work — why my yarn colors look the way they do, how I choose people to work with, and what kinds of kits I create — you should know two things about me.

  1. 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?
  2. 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 and comforting, and kits have extra attention to detail so that you will feel treasured, cared for and a bit of ✨magic✨ when you open it. All in service of you making something beautiful, by hand, that becomes part of your everyday life.

I write a lot as well: on Instagram in 2200 character chunks and also on Substack. 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?