Giant merino wool became very popular last few years among makers, and it is one of my favorite yarns to work with. Today I have a guest – talented Italian yarn artist Greta Silva from Knitting Revolution. Besides being my favorite wool supplier, she is a very interesting and inspiring woman. We met in person once, and I was enhanced by the story behind her small business.
Long after our meeting, I kept thinking of her, and in the end, asked Greta to share her amazing story in my blog- the transformation from the hectic urban life of a fashion designer into the wild slow life in the Italian Alps. And the story of building a small business based on a love for nature.
Into the wild
She had a blossoming fashion design carrier in Milan, but secretly craved something wild and simple, for a new way to express her creativity. She and her companion Elio made a conscious decision to relocate to a beautiful little house near Traversella, surrounded by woods and mountains, to start a new chapter in their life.
A simple life does not mean an easy life. Living in the mountains in a house made of stones and wood without modern commodities makes even ordinary things like laundry, grocery shopping, etc. a daunting task that requires a lot of time and effort. To get to the nearest grocery shop or post office takes her one hour of walk. The electricity in the house is coming from two solar panels on the roof. The vegetables – from their own garden. Water – from the well outside. The stove to cook is “fueled” by the wood they have to pick up in the woods every day. But that was the point – to slow down, to live mindful and meaningful life immersed in nature, surrounded by wild animals, and enjoying those little things.
Learning yarn spinning
Greta learned to spin yarn from a local 83 old lady Angela.
“One day, I saw an old woman with a spindle and something happened”.Greta
She spent many hours with Angela learning yarn spinning, watched countless YouTube videos in different languages, and also completed a class about natural dyeing. She was creating giant merino wool and jumbo yarns which at the time was a real knitting revolution. The giant yarn barely existed in commerce, and it was impossible to find knitting needles to work with it. Angela was skeptical saying that the yarn is too big, but Greta’s passion was very strong and somehow, it found the way.
Love to nature as lifestyle
Respect for nature and sustainability are fundamental for Greta. She has her little farm.
“Sheep are my passion I love them, and I love wool so I chose to breed a dwarf breed called d’ouessant (pictured above) a French breed that gives slightly bristly wool and is not suitable for spinning. When I shear my sheep, I keep their wool for pillows.”Greta
At first, she was spinning yarn for personal use only. Later on, she managed to set up a studio and started to sell yarns on the local markets and internationally. She has a little collection of spinning winders antique and modern ones handpicked during years of working with yarns.
The giant merino yarn is sourced from high-quality wool, coming from New Zealand – the farms that 100% guarantee that the fiber is muesling and cruelty-free. The sourced yarns are custom dyed for Greta in small batches by the local laboratory respecting all international standards aimed at environmental protection. Over 80 colors are available to match any maker’s idea or dream.
Besides gorgeous giant yarns, she is spinning stunning artistic yarns and dreamy soft luxury yarns in a bulky weight that is the best for newborn babies. In her shop, I found handmade tools from Betula wood- hooks and needles of various sizes to work with bulky, chunky, and giant merino wool.
For her artistic yarns, Greta uses ethical fibers from local breeders here in Italy, and some – from the UK.
“For my made-to-order art yarns, I use a mix of Alpaca, Silk Noils, Shetland, Suffolk, Merino, and Angora wool, together with Teeswater wool locks and vegetable fibers made from rose bushes and bamboo. After I spin the yarns, I create skeins with my antique wool winder.”Greta
Why textile arts?
Greta is passionate about wool and spinning because working with wool makes her feel whole with nature.
“I think of wool as a soft, living material that breathes and warms up, and so spinning becomes a meditation on nature and its mysteries. You are not buying just a skein but a little piece of my heart.”Greta
After the COVID stroke, a lot of small shops had to adjust to a cruel reality. I closed my baby shop and opened my patterns store. The wool shop of Greta turned into a vintage and rare books shop. But I will always remember her with love and admiration for her extraordinary giant and bulky wools. Hope one day we can meet again. I imagine being in her mountain house knitting together near the fire and remembering the “good old times” when handmade was rare and precious, and nobody compared us to Amazon.