Brewing up Good with Knitting and Beer
Here at Interweave, we have the privilege of being located in Northern Colorado. Aside from the beautiful mountain vistas and being home to this year’s Yarn Fest, there is something else to note for the region. We like our beer here. We REALLY like it. Fort Collins is often referred to as the Napa Valley of beer. With all the great crafters and brewers located here, it should come as no surprise that those worlds can come together to brew up something really great.
Abby Derr is a local knitter who has been working for local brewery Horse and Dragon Brewing Company almost since day one when it opened in 2014. Other than brewing up some seriously tasty beer (for real, try the Sad Panda), Horse and Dragon prides themselves on being a positive presence in the Fort Collins community and encourages its employees to do the same. It was from this that Abby founded FOCO W.O.O.L. (FOCO Wool Of Our Love), a non-profit project that sells knitted Horse and Dragon hats to supply the profit to make non-branded hats for another local non-profit, Homeless Gear.
I recently had the pleasure of asking Abby some questions about herself, and learning more about the FOCO W.O.O.L. project.
-Tell us a little more about yourself, Abby.
I’m a mother of 2 humans (1 boy and 1 girl) and one sweet fur baby. I’m originally from Cheyenne, Wyoming and have lived in Fort Collins for 7 years. I’ve been with Horse and Dragon almost from the beginning. I love beer, and I love yarn!!!
-How did you get into knitting?
I learned how to knit in college with the help of YouTube (should have been studying for finals,) and I learned to machine knit 6 years ago. It’s a craft that has lost popularity in the US over the years, so there aren’t many knitting machines being manufactured. Most of what you find has to be purchased second hand. I bought my first machine locally, and it took several years to be able to make anything other than a scarf.
At the time I didn’t know anyone who knew how to machine knit, so I was left to learn from the 1970s instruction manual that came with the machine, and the Internet. It was a painfully slow learning curve, and I’m still learning every day. Fortunately, a Facebook group was started by some women in the UK. They are so helpful every time I post. Machine knitting is more popular overseas, so machines, cone yarn, accessories, and in-person help is much easier to come by there!
-Tell us a little more about FOCO W.O.O.L.
All my spare time was invested in knitting, and I wanted a way to use my talent and love of fiber art to give back. I owe all of my success to Horse and Dragon Brewing Company. Employees are encouraged to be involved in the community, and I realized that starting the FOCO W.O.O.L. project was the perfect way for me to get involved.
I started making hats for FOCO W.O.O.L. in 2015. That year I made 20 hats for employees and 20 hats to donate to Homeless Gear. In 2016, I made 30 Horse and Dragon branded hats that were sold out of the taproom, and again made and donated the same amount. I design and craft every hat down to the hand-dyed leather tags, and the branded stamps. Each year’s worth of beanies are made in small batches and have their unique design/vintage.
This past year I’ve sold over 50 hats, and I’m still making them going in 2018. I’m hoping to add more breweries to the project in the future, and to recruit more knitters and crocheters to help make the donated hats. This past year, I was lucky to have help from my mom and a Horse and Dragon patron, but I’m hoping to add 5–10 more people for the next run of hats.
-What makes the beer culture in Fort Collins just so special?
The people in Fort Collins that make up the beer community are the same individuals that support small businesses, community involvement, and craft and small-batch art. This has provided the perfect avenue for my project. People have been so generous!
We here at Interweave raise a glass to Abby and FOCO W.O.O.L. for creating something beautiful from a passion for yarn and beer. If you are interested in learning more about FOCO W.O.O.L. or Homeless Gear and how you can help, follow the links to their websites.
How have you blended your love for knitting with your other passions? Tell us about it in the comments below, and find the perfect patterns to give in the lovely knitting sources below.
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