Andrea Donnelly’s Little Fool Textiles

By Regina Connell, Editor-in-Chief, Handful of Salt

I’m one of these people who loves earrings, rings, bracelets – but I’ve never been about those big, statement necklaces. Not sure why, but there we are. However, my daily uniform of black (or if I’m feeling daring, navy or gray) requires something.

Enter the scarf. It’s become my statement jewelry.

In the past, I’d picked up those little scarves from wherever, and while they may have provided me with that pop of color – but frankly, they were crap. They’d catch on my earrings or hangnails, would start to look tatty in a month, and, God forbid, I should spill something on it, washing it would be like washing dollar bills down the drain.

And that’s when I started to realize that if I thought about scarves as statement jewelry, I needed to think about them as the same kind of investment, both financially and in terms of quality.

Enter the work of people like artist Andrea Donnelly and her company, Little Fool Textiles. Now I’ve often thought of the weaving process as completely miraculous: you start with un-dyed threads, and somehow manipulate them into pattern, life and beauty.

And in a small studio in Richmond, Va., Andrea does just that: she designs, weaves, paints, and dyes elegant, you’ll-never-see-them-coming-toward-you scarves and wraps.

The scarves—which often come in an unlikely combination of ikat and check—are made from delicious materials: high-quality mercerized cotton from North Carolina, wools from Henry’s Attic in New York state (a company that does their own spinning), and domestically sourced wool, silk, and linen. And you feel the difference where it counts: in your hands and around your neck. Softness, suppleness, sensuousness.

The fibers come to her un-dyed—she takes care of that herself—and what a knack she has. These are colors you don’t see anywhere else: sumptuous, dreamy blues; deep pinks you can actually wear without feeling like an 80’s reject; subtle, painterly combinations that give the scarves a fluidity that’s hard to beat. My favorite? The lyrical Wind on Water Ikat wrap.

This Virginia Commonwealth University grad is in love with her process, documenting it extensively on the Little Fool Textiles site, on her artist site, and on her blog, Little Fool, a Small Business Romance.

I adore that the care Andrea takes in her artistry and craftsmanship of a scarf or wrap extends to the artistry and craftsmanship of the experience of receiving one of her pieces. She sweats the details in a big way, wrapping and boxing each scarf meticulously, and if you’re lucky, including a gorgeous book on her process.

That commitment to her work—to our delight in her work—is as valuable, precious, as any gorgeous necklace. It just happens to be jewelry made out of fiber. And the best part: it can keep you warm, quite gorgeously.

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