That Damn Della!

I've read quite a few internet articles on growing social media accounts, and one of the top pieces of advice in every singe one of them is:

Be Social.

As in, try to actually interact as a human being with other humans on the platform of your choice.  (Gasp!)  Make comments.  Share behind-the-scenes moments of your life.  Be real.  

I'm not sure anyone on the Knitstagram shares Real Life (TM) like Adella Colvin of LolaBean Yarn Co.  Her feed invites us all directly into her life where talk is Straight Up, a toddler steals the show and the knitting notions, and grief is balanced with beauty.  Adella is fresh, she's human, and, to top it all off, she dyes yarn!  

She makes it easy to get to know her, and I'm thrilled that I've had the chance.

When they say necessity is the mother of invention, they mean that when a maker can't find the yarn they want, they figure out how to make it.  Not finding the yarns she wanted to use locally, Adella tried dying herself (and this is my favorite part, y'all:)

I started out using those Paz Easter egg coloring kits. That lasted all of two days. I said to myself that if I wanted to be serious about this, that I needed to use the same stuff that the established dyers used. Go big or go home, right? I decided to make the switch to acid dyes and the rest is history.

Big win for knitters!  Initially, my eye was caught by Adella's Ode to Deadpool colorway and from there, I dove into her feed.  (Random fact about me: I really love Deadpool.  I've read all the Deadpool comics, and those are the onlycomics I've read.  That probably tells you a lot about my sense of humor.)  I asked her about it and learned that it was an assignment for a yarn dyeing challenge (which I thought was strange... as much as I love Deadpool, he's not a character I would ever choose for someone else (unless I knew them really, really, really well.  He is entirely NSFW.))  Let me tell you, she knocked the challenge out of the park and @exquisiteyarnandfibercommunity even gave her a big shout out for her results, because the colorway was that cool.

Not the Deadpool colorway. This is Bananarama. More about that in a bit.

I wondered how she knows when she gets a colorway right, and she told me that it's in the reception:

When people react and respond favorably, it lets me know I’ve created a winner. What’s funny though, when I feel like I’ve created something that I think is fabulous, I don’t get the same reaction. But when it’s something that I’m not too sure about? Constant likes, shares, requests for preorders, etc. (shrug)….

(I noticed that Ashley of Blackberry Ridge said the same thing, by the way. Food for thought!)

Speaking of big hits, Adella says that her Black Panther collection has been her biggest success, though I suspect that wasn't a surprise for her.  The movie was so amazing (best Marvel movie so far, in my opinion) and the reception to it so enthusiastic (so I'm obviously not alone in my opinion,) that, combined with her intuitive sense of color, it was inevitable that her Black Panther yarns would be popular.

I began planning for that collection way before the movie came out. As soon as the initial pictures of the characters was released, I knew that I had to do something to celebrate, not just the movie, but my culture. I must have dyed over a thousand skeins from that collection. It continues to be a collection that people comment on and admire.

The process to create the Black Panther collection was a little different than her usual, however.  (This is another favorite part.)  I love that Adella shared with me how she trusts her intuition when designing colorways:

I could be having a conversation with my husband and then I’ll just jump up, go to my desk and start planning things out. Things just come to my mind and wind up on skeins. Some people draw inspiration from pictures or scenery or any number of things. I just do it. Not to sound arrogant or cocky, but things just come to me. The only time that I will say I look at a picture or something, is when I am preparing for my subscription based colorways. If it’s related to a specific character or theme, then I’ll do some research on things to ensure I get it right.

Sometimes what makes an artist an Artist-with-a-capital-A is the simple fact that they take action on their inspiration.  I can picture the moment when she gets that look in her eye that she's just come up with a color and has to make notes before the idea slips away.  (And I can picture the look on her husband's face when she suddenly disappears mid-conversation. It’s cracking me up,)  It's why I leave notebooks in weird places in my house.  You never know when an idea will come to you and you have to be ready to capture it.


I would describe my style as bold, fun and real. My husband would say that I don’t make dry ashy creations. I don’t follow trends. I try to be as original as one can be in this business.

—Adella of LolaBean Yarn Co.

When I first found LolaBean, I instantly fell in love with Adella's style.  I feel her sarcastic humor and sense of fun in the colors--to me, her work stands out in a crowded indie dyer field.  And I bet it's why Gaye @ggmadeit says "Damn!" whenever she comes across a new LolaBean colorway, earning Adella the nickname, "That Damn Della!"

But, much as I love Adella's Marvel-inspired colorways, at her suggestion I ordered her newest offering, Bananarama.  It's neon.  Which is SO. NOT. MY. USUAL. Neon! 

Initially, it was supposed to be Rabbit, from my Winnie the Pooh inspired collection. The yellow was a bit too dark though. So…. I looked at my dyes and started speckling. Yellow is rather difficult color for me to sell, so I needed it to be bright and fun. I actually wasn’t inspired by the band at all. Once I began really looking at how things came together, yellow, banana, neon, 80’s (I’m an 80’s baby as well), 80’s, banana… Bananarama!!! The speckles, for me, really pop and get me really excited about that color way.

First of all, (and this is also my favorite part,) I love that Bananarama was originally Rabbit.  (Another random fact about me: I love Rabbit.  Come to think of it, I regularly identify with the sadly type-A characters in cartoons.  The ones desperately trying to calm the chaos surrounding them and who always end up collapsing in a heap of grim acceptance because they can't control the crazy.  Poor Rabbit, always one Silly Old Bear getting stuck in his doorway away from a heart attack when all he wants is to grow carrots and drink tea.) 

Second of all, 80s neons.  This colorway brings me back to third grade when I had a new set of highlighters in pink, orange and that wild, weird yellow that's so intense it hardly counts as a color because your eyes can't even process it.  There's something so innocently exciting about these colors dancing together across the skein.  I'm not eight anymore and my tastes tend toward rich neutrals, so I've not knitted with neons, despite their popularity with crafters who (wisely) never grew up.  But I had a blast knitting this, and it sort of caps off a trend in my life lately of trying new things in my knitting.  Adella, I appreciate the encouragement to work with this color!

While she says it's a constant effort for two working parents to find so-called "balance" in life with work, a side business, and kids, she says they've reached a place "that works for now," enjoying the down moments together as they can.  Her family is deeply embedded in her business--quite literally with an image depicting her beautiful daughter as her logo.  Adella started out as "Adella's Crochet Cottage," selling crocheted items, but once her daughter arrived in the world, she decided to go the route we see today:

I decided that I wanted to build something that I could potentially pass down to Lola. Also, I wanted to make sure that the business had her face, or image of her, as part of the branding. Black & Indigenous People of Color are underrepresented in this industry and I wanted to not only make a mark on the industry, but I also wanted my daughter to be able to see her likeness used in a positive way. Who’s not going to remember seeing a beautiful brown baby in an industry that really doesn’t show beautiful brown babies?

I agree!  I don't think anyone could resist little Lola.

I admire how Adella never separates what she does from the people she does it for. That's her family, of course, but also the rest of the community.  She has long been outspoken on the importance of inclusion; I know I've felt a loving kick in the butt at her fierce observations.  And I'm happy to listen because this beautiful community gives back too much for anyone to ever feel excluded from it.

The knitting community has helped me get through the loss of my son, my mother’s cancer diagnosis (which she has beat) and almost losing my business. If it weren’t for the wonderful folks that I met and engaged with on a constant basis, I don’t where LolaBean Yarn Co would really be right now. The kind words, donations, purchases and pictures that artists have posted showing their finished works from the colorways that I created, have really boosted my sense of value and worth in this business.

Hopefully there will be more inclusion and acceptance of the different cultures and colors that make up this beautiful community. My other hope is that this inspires a new generation, or wave of folks that enjoy the fiber arts as much as I do.

—Adella of LolaBean Yarn Co.

I'd love to have a chance to meet in person someday, and maybe that's more likely to happen as little Lola gets older.  Adella says that she's dreaming of getting to some events so she can meet the people who've been supporting her.  (You can look for her at Stitches United in May!)

Thanks, Della, and... damn! That's pretty yarn.


*Some quotes are lightly edited to make them work in context.