Wool Studio Volume II: The California Collection
It was a dark and stormy night in southern California. The red eye of my gas light was blinking at me as I pulled into a tiny Santa Barbara gas station. My GPS had just taken me on a “short cut” through the Los Padres National Forest during my road trip from San Jose to Ventura. I got out to pump gas and took a moment to shake off the white-knuckled drive down a rainy, dark, fog-covered mountain slope.
I don’t know what possessed me to drive down the coast in late January. I was in California for a conference in San Jose followed by photo shoots in Ventura. I had thought driving from San Jose to Ventura would take the same amount of time and be less stressful than flying to L.A., and perhaps provide a chance for a little adventure.
What I hadn’t anticipated was the problematic amount of rain California was experiencing at the time. The usual brown, dry landscape was as lush and green as the hills of Ireland. It was an exhilarating, and slightly terrifying at times, but a beautiful ride, and I was inspired and awed by the landscape.
Along my route, I stopped at Avila Beach for lunch. The combination of bizarre weather, mid-century architecture, and interesting locals made the town seem like a place out of time. I ate a sandwich on the sea wall, stared out at the turbulent waves, and reflected on my little trip down the coastline. I had traveled through several different climates over the course of a few hours, and thought about the versatile wardrobe a person would need to live in California.
I was there to shoot the second installment of Wool Studio, a collection full of elegant, functional garments and accessories that can be layered, used as transition pieces, and worn into the winter. As I chewed my sandwich, I realized I had been curating a “California collection” all along.
I decided then to name all the designs in Wool Studio Volume II after towns and cities along the California coastline. And yes, Avila Beach is represented by Amanda Bell’s Avila Tee, made in Manos del Uruguay’s merino-linen blend Milo. I wish I had been wearing this outfit that day with its chic layering over a silky blouse and comfortable trousers. It would have been the ideal traveling outfit for both comfort and layering and delayering myself as the weather changed.
It was cold and wet the entire week, but I wasn’t complaining—I had so many knits to snuggle into, including the Thousand Oaks Scarf by Grace Akhrem. The moment I got my hands on this scarf, I knew I had to make one for myself. It’s knit on the bias featuring intermittent random cable motifs and made in a luscious Aran weight cashmere-merino blend chainette—the stuff my knitting dreams are made of. I wore this scarf then and have continued to wear it since. I know the time is coming soon when I’ll have to return it to Grace and start working on my own.
I love every piece in this collection, so I can’t say I have 1 favorite. But I can say that I have a favorite layering piece—the Pebble Beach Ruana by Amy Gunderson. If you took a peek into my closet, you’d see a rather large collection of ponchos and ruanas. They are my go-to comfort garments, standby layers, and statement pieces. What I love about the Pebble Beach Ruana is its adaptability—it’s stylish, breathable, and can be worked in either Fibra Natura Flax or any Universal Yarn DK-weight yarn. I personally like the linen yarn option for this ruana because it can be worn in any season and with any outfit you want to jazz up.
This collection is my little love letter to California: for all its quirks, it sure is one beautiful place. What’s your favorite piece from Wool Studio Volume II? I can’t choose, so I’d like to hear from you!
~Meghan Babin, editor
Wool Studio Volume II