Follow along with us as we learn about how Sarah Resnick went from a community organizer to founder of two companies. She recently launched Zollie, creating kits to teach people of all ages the basics of a variety of fiber arts – all with high quality 100% natural threads and yarns.
How long have you been a maker? What different creative media do you do?
I’ve been a maker for as long as I can remember.
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I learned to knit from my friend’s grandmother when I was seven, and learned how to sew from my own grandmother soon after that. I have many fond memories of going down into her sewing room with her after Friday night family dinners, and learning to cut fabric and follow sewing patterns. I wrote my college essay about shopping with her at Jo-Ann Fabrics.
When I was 19, I spent a year working on a farm in California. They had bags upon bags of greasy wool in the barn. We grew sheep for meat so the fiber wasn’t particularly soft, but it was free and abundant so I learned how to clean and spin wool, and was always intrigued by the pieces of looms that were stored there in the barn. When I moved to Toronto the next year, I signed up for a weaving class and was instantly and forever hooked.
Now, watching my four-year-old daughter come into her own as a maker and artist fills me with so much joy and pride. I know from my own experience that the foundational memories of making as a child go on to impact us throughout our lives. It’s one of the reasons I started my company Zollie, which makes beginner fiber craft kits for all ages.
Community and union organizer, to sourcing yarns and fibers and managing two companies. Tell us more about your journey and how you arrived at where you are today.
I started my career working in community gardens and food justice organizations, and later in a labor union. I was interested in learning how people are inspired to take action together to make change. Throughout all of this, making was a big part of my life as a hobby, but I never thought it would be part of my professional life.
I became curious about the employer’s side of creating good, local jobs, and left the non-profit world to help start a cut-and-sew factory in Fall River, Massachusetts. It was the hardest job I ever had, and I learned a lot about the challenges of domestic manufacturing. It inspired me to start my company Gist Yarn in 2017.
At Gist Yarn, we are proud to partner with select farmers, spinning mills, dye houses, and winders to produce 100% natural fiber yarns designed for weavers. In addition to designing and publishing our own patterns, we showcase new weaving talent and pay a fair wage to both up-and-coming and established weaving pattern designers.
In the fall of 2023, we launched Zollie, a line of fiber craft kits designed for new makers ages 8+. Our beginner kits come with step-by-step videos to teach complete beginners how to knit, crochet, cross stitch, embroider, and tie friendship bracelets.
I’ve learned a lot along the way, and am so lucky to be working with our small team to create products for makers.
How do you manage your creative time and your creative space?
I’m a parent of two young kids, so I take creative time whenever and wherever I can get it! I’ll pick up a creative project for a few minutes at a time while sitting on the couch if they are busy with something, or in the evenings after they’re in bed.
I started my company Zollie for people like me, who are desperate for some moments of creativity in their lives, but don’t necessarily have a lot of free time or dedicated space for it. I firmly believe that making is good for everyone, in every phase of our lives, even or especially when we think we’re too busy.
How often do you start a new project? Do you work actively on more than one project at a time?
I’m the kind of person who has at least 5 WIP’s going at any given time – my 4-year-old is always asking me when I’m going to finish something.
I like to have different projects going with different levels of complexity depending on how much exclusive attention I can give to what I’m working on. So I’ll have a simple crochet project going that doesn’t require counting, and a cross stitch project that needs some more focus. I also like to have at least one project going where I’m following someone else’s pattern, and one going where I’m creating my own design or making it up as a go.
What inspires you to create?
I’m inspired to create by beautiful quality materials and striking color combinations, which is why I started a yarn company. One of my favorite parts of my job is seeing the projects that designers make with our yarn – so much creative inspiration to draw from.
Where can people find you? Tell us about your websites. What do you hope people will gain by visiting?
Weavers will find many resources for weavers of all skill-levels, our archive of 150+ episodes of the Weave podcast, weaving equipment, yarn, and downloadable patterns for sale on our website Gist Yarn.
People interested in learning a brand new fiber craft should check out Zollie! We have kits for knitting, crochet, cross stitch, embroidery, and friendship bracelets. We also sell organic cotton yarn for knitters and crocheters, and a line of US-made wool yarn in over 100 colors for needlework artists.
Check out all of the beginner fiber art kits by Zollie:
Check out the gorgeous range of colors of the Array wool embroidery thread.
Interview posted January 2024