Shop Highlight: Wild Hand
Wild Hand is a joyful yarn shop in the Mt. Airy neighborhood of Philadelphia. I met Liz Sytsma, shop owner, at Rhinebeck last year and had a chance to gush over all the local fiber together. She has a beautiful, curated space with a welcoming environment. Community at its core. Liz was the person who gave me the idea for our Little Free Fiber Library. Wild Hand carries a wide range of products for makers including all of the Ritual Dyes yarns and project bags- they are one of our favorite LYS stockists!
RD: I love your shop and the space you created. How did you get started in this industry? What were you doing before?
WH:Thank you! This is a completely new career for me. Before Wild Hand I was in the nonprofit arts and culture sector for many years. I helped create and was the Director at an organization here in Philly called CultureWorks Greater Philadelphia. I've never worked in a yarn shop (most of our team has not) but spent much of my career writing business plans, creating programming and community engagement strategies, managing finances, building teams, and becoming a generalist when it comes to running a small business. I have always been a fiber tinkerer - ebbing and flowing through seasons of different fiber crafts and longing for more time to dive deeper into materials, process, and technique. With the help of a nudge from the universe, I decided to apply those business-making skills to my own creative, community endeavor. I'm certainly on a learning curve (and don't expect or want that to change!) and grateful for the massive privilege of pursuing a dream.
WH: For years I've been on the lookout for the perfect cardigan. I'll know it when I see it.
RD: Tell us about your shop's neighborhood!
WH: Mt. Airy is a magical place to live and work. Nestled up in the woodsy Northwest corner of Philadelphia it was one of the first successfully integrated neighborhoods in the country and remains one of the most economically, religiously, and racially diverse neighborhoods in the city. Folks care deeply about their neighbors and work daily to continue creating a welcoming community. Wild Hand is very much a reflection of the neighborhood - it's multi-generational, diverse, progressive, kind, and willing to go out of the way to help. We're in Mt. Airy Village - a small commercial corridor with about five other neighbor-run small businesses. Most of the buildings here are over 100 years old and a big part of living here is spending time in the Wissahickon Valley Park - a huge, wild, woodsy park system that runs along the edge of Mt. Airy.
WH: Elder in Chestnut. I have loved Elder since the first time I squished it at VKL and the new color is a dream! I'm also over-the-moon to include sock blanks and batts this fall from our super talented team member, Theresa Hill (@ewe_nited_states_of_fiber).
RD: What are your hobbies outside of knitting?
WH: Well, I made my hobbies my career so much of what I like to do outside of work involves yarn. I also cook, hike, garden, and wrangle two little girls, a dog, and a cat most of my free minutes. Our home is 100 years old so house projects are never-ending ... I’ve gotten pretty good at plaster repair and repainting window sashes.
Check out all the amazing products and the wonderful things they have going on at Wild Hand.