Lobsters: A Love Story

“So, have you guys ever considered using wool, silk, hemp, more linen, angora, cashmere, mohair, Tencel® (rayon), milk fiber (rayon), bamboo (rayon), soy (rayon)?"

This is perhaps the one question we are asked on an almost daily basis and the answer to it is well, yes, we have considered and tested all of those fibers and then some. 

However, we have been having a long and torrid love affair with cotton. We love cotton. We know cotton.  We consider our innovative weave structures developed by Bethanne at The Oriole Mill sophisticated, surprising, and complex.  We enjoy changing the wrapping properties of a textile based on the manipulation of weave structure and density; we consider this a challenging test when done consistently in cotton.

Although we love cotton, we also have a great interest in other fibers. Our due diligence is fairly involved and lengthy and if a fiber passes that stage, it moves into research and development, which is also a long stage. We tend to take our time and mull things over and although there is a constant push in fashion to push the edge and stay relevant, we prefer to be slow and deliberate when it comes to decisions concerning our children. We want to know where our fibers are sourced, we want to know their history, we want them to offer unique and relevant wearing qualities, we want them to croon to us songs of their youth. We want our fibers to seduce us.  We want to stay as natural as possible. We want our customer to be able to trust that when she selects a Pavo to wrap the most precious thing on Earth, she knows it is safe both in integrity and design. 

We have been looking at various woolens for the past two years and nothing was quite right; it either wasn’t strong enough to hold together well during the weaving process, wasn’t soft enough, or we were not able to fully follow the supply chain to our liking. The process was slow and frustrating, but we persevered and finally found wool that met our requirements. An order went in and I left Erin to do her magic. And this happened: 

There is so much I could say about Lobsters, but really he needs no introduction. I mean, look! 

But I suppose a little context might be of use. Lobsters came into creation around the same time as Ama, Aquaria and Sea Star. Every design has its place within a larger story and while Aquaria and Sea Star are lovely companions to Ama, the family was not yet complete. Enter Lobster. 

Go big or go home, right? We wanted lobsters on our wrap. A fitting and proud nod to Pavo East. We needed to go big because if we did not, what really was the point? Lobsters needed to be the perfect funky, weird foil to our beloved Ama. Lobster went through a number of iterations (including a sad shrimpish phase) and he was finally ready for the loom at the same time as our red wool. What better combination than Lobsters and red wool? Right? It is the perfect pairing. As Erin mentioned, "Nothing says winter in New England like red wooly lobsters." 

We spend so much time with our wraps, it is second nature for them to take on their own personalities and their own stories. They function within their own space.  Whenever I see Ama and her crew, I see a band of crazy, loud beatniks on the cusp of great change. I see a group of friends driving from Greenwich Village to as far west as they are able to go and finally coming to rest in North Beach, thousands of miles from home, but still right where they want to be. For me, Lobsters is that group's Kerouac. Wild-eyed, full of crazy movement and space, bristly, edgy, and absolutely perfect. Yep, Lobsters is definitely that. 


A Love Story: Klee

Where do we start with Klee? 

Klee has been with us from the very beginning. It was one of the first swatches we looked at and pondered when we visited The Oriole Mill for the first time after explaining to Bethanne what we were interesting in developing with Oriole for Pavo. I can remember rubbing the fabric between my fingers and interrupting Erin's conversation with Bethanne to remark on how unique the fiber felt. Erin, who is always patient when it comes to explaining the intracies of  fiber to me, stopped her conversation and took the sample from my hands and pondered it for a fair amount of time. Too heavy. Not the right type of rainbow. Too much time to develop. Too expensive.  And I knew she was right. Of course, we went on to release Parterre, but that's a whole different story.  I look back on that conversation and laugh now. She should have just said no. I had wasted the previous hour drooling over a wall of sparkly, glittery lurex threads and fibers and Erin explained to me why Lurex was not an option over and over again, we had vowed to stay with natural fibers no matter how sexy synthetic temptation can be.  In hindsight, I can laugh over this memory. At the time, I was devastated that glitter would not be a staple fiber in the Pavo library. Actually, I wasn't all that sad. We had already committed to natural fibers, but there's something about glittery sparkles that makes the 7 year old in me giddy with delight.  Maybe I will convince her yet.  

Bethanne Knudson, designer of Klee and owner of The Oriole Mill, shows off her creation for the Pavo gals.

Bethanne Knudson, designer of Klee and owner of The Oriole Mill, shows off her creation for the Pavo gals.

But back to the story: Klee fell to the cutting room floor, metaphorically speaking.  And it stayed there for quite some time. Over a year after we first saw the Klee sample, it resurfaced. Erin suggested that perhaps we should revisit it because, well, it had grown on her. This is classic Pavo: One of us falls in love with a sample and the other person is typically not excited about it. Then the dance begins. We go back and forth and back and forth and back and forth until we finally hit upon a consensus. And so it was with Klee. But then the samples arrived and we were both on the fence, but neither one of us wanted to give Klee the proverbial axe, so we sent the samples out to various testers with no expectations or desires. 

When the positive reviews came in, we were a bit taken aback. Klee was too thick, too dense, and yet people seemed to be so smitten with the girl.  Despite the positive response, it went back to the cutting room floor because ultimately it was too cost prohibitive to produce. And there it sat for a couple of months while Erin and I did the dance. Back and forth. Back and forth. Should we take the risk? Will it be too expensive? Will it be to thick? What if it's better than we think? Will we regret taking the risk?  It's such a familiar and comforting routine—I often think we do this because it just feels so fulfilling and perfect. It never gets old. 

Of course, you all well know the end of this story. We decided to run Klee. We both cringed at the cost of running it, we both have stayed up nights second guessing our decision to run Klee, we have texted furiously at 3 am reassuring each other this was the right thing to do. It is fitting that Klee will be our anniversary wrap. Everything about Klee represents Pavo; it's not just the aesthetics or the attention to fiber and weave structure, but the interplay between color and fiber captures the harmony and dialogue that are the foundation of Pavo. Klee is the Pavo Dance embodied.