Jewel tones and judicial robes: Justice-to-be inspires Md. business

A hand-dyed yarn business celebrates communities in the District, Maryland and Virginia with their own special colors.

Neighborhood Fiber Company’s shop in Baltimore, for instance, sells “Del Ray,” a yarn in golden yellows; “DuPont Circle,” comprising swirls in a range of purples; and “Lexington Market,” which has shades of grays and granite.

Karida Collins, the founder and owner of Neighborhood Fiber Company, decided to focus on naming her yarns after urban spaces.

“There were lots of yarn colors and companies inspired by nature and flowers. I wanted to specifically highlight urban life and the beauty that can be found in cities,” Collins said.

But Collins said some yarns are inspired by individuals, too.

“I have a history of doing colors to celebrate amazing women. My first one was ‘1600 Pennsylvania Avenue’ for Michelle Obama, when the Obamas were in the White House,” she said.

Collins talked to WTOP during an interview in the yarn-dying area of her Baltimore shop. It buzzed with the sound of machines that wind strands of yarn into skeins after they’ve been dyed. One could also hear the clanking of spoons against metal pots, where yarns steeping in dye solutions were stirred over heat provided by a massive gas range.

Collins’ latest inspiration came when she saw the Supreme Court confirmation hearing for Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson.

“I am in awe of this moment,” Collins told WTOP.

She explained she was struck by Jackson’s composure during the hearings — and her deep blue suits.

“I really loved the jackets that she was wearing. They were jewel tones, which is definitely my happy place,” Collins said with a smile.

So she got to work formulating a new color that would be based on Jackson’s suit jackets — and it would combine colors found in other yarns.

“You have the shades of blue, and a layer of black to represent her judicial robes. And the color is called ‘1 First Street Northeast,’ because that’s the address of the Supreme Court,” Collins said.

Skeins of Neighborhood Fiber Company’s latest color inspired by soon-to-be Supreme Court Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson (Courtesy Neighborhood Fiber Company)

Her business began in 2006. She would go from an operation out of her home in D.C.’s LeDroit Park neighborhood to the space she has now in Baltimore — and there are plans to expand.

“It’s not just about moving us into a larger space, although that is part of it. It’s also about being able to do some work that’s aligned with my personal mission, which is to make this … truly benefit to the community,” Collins said.

If all goes as planned, according to Collins, Neighborhood Fiber Company will move to a 7,500-square-foot place where they will have a new tenant, Baltimore Youth Arts.

“They work with young people in Baltimore City, and we’re talking teens, for the most part,” Collins said.

BYA works with kids and young adults ages 14 to 22 who have been involved in the justice system. It’s an idea that appeals to Collins, who says many programs are geared toward younger children.

The program she wants to foster would work with the teens “allowing them to create and sell art,” with access to her shop’s workspace.

Kate Ryan

As a member of the award-winning WTOP News, Kate is focused on state and local government. Her focus has always been on how decisions made in a council chamber or state house affect your house. She's also covered breaking news, education and more.

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