Making It: The Yarn Bodega
I’ve had the opportunity to meet makers who inspire my craft and who have made me feel welcomed where I once felt othered. One of those special humans is Ismelda Molina-Rodriguez, an advocate for bilingual crochet representation and a bright light in this community.
I met Ismelda years ago at one of my many craft nights through Bobble Club House. Week after week she would trek to one of my midtown pop-ups to share a crochet moment when we would chat about our lives, yarn, and dreams.
Recently, Ismelda announced that one of her dreams is moving to the next step. Years have passed since our initial conversations so this month I sat down with my friend, to ask her about life, yarn, and her dream of a Yarn Bodega in the Bronx.
Ismelda’s father’s bodega in the Bronx.
Can you share more about your crochet journey and how it became a significant part of your life?
My mother and godmother both tried to teach me to knit and crochet when I was 10 or 11. I took to knitting better, but only managed to make swatches and quickly lost interest.
About nine years ago, I was in a rut. I found an informal crochet class at a Queens creative event space but still couldn’t get the hang of the hand motions. I bought some books, watched YouTube tutorials, and it finally clicked.
Crochet has opened up so many creative doors for me. It’s been a gateway to other crafts, too, such as yarn dyeing, tie-dyeing, and, now, spinning yarn.
What inspired you to start The Yarn Bodega project?
The concept for The Yarn Bodega has been brewing in my head for a few years, but the closure of the only Michaels in the Bronx lit a fire in me. I chose the name to pay tribute to my father, who owned a bodega in the South Bronx for over 30 years.
I envision The Yarn Bodega being a LYS with bodega vibes and aesthetics. My father’s bodega was a safe space for many, an escape for others. He looked out for his customers, and in turn, they looked out for him. That’s what I want for The Yarn Bodega—a safe space to build community through making where creativity flows and flourishes.
In your own words, why do you believe it is essential for makers to be able to see themselves represented in the yarn and fiber crafts community and to have access to the craft we all love?
I’ll use the cliche “seeing is believing.” If makers don’t see themselves represented, they might feel discouraged to partake or stifle their creativity. At the 2023 Vogue Knitting Live, Amanda Solomon said at a BBMIP [Black Brown Indigenous Melanated People] talk, “If you don’t see, be it. Don’t wait to get a seat at the table. Make your own.”
Crocheting and spinning have helped me turn negativity into something positive, productive, and functional. But most importantly, making with fiber helped me find my joy, creativity, and passion. The cherry on top are all the connections and friendships I’ve built.
What are your dreams for the shop and what impact do you see it making on your community?
My dreams for The Yarn Bodega is to offer a safe space and a promote a creative hub that highlights fellow Latinx & BBMIP makers, particularly those within the vicinity of the Bronx. My dream is also to host trunk shows and events that give local community access to all sorts of makers, crafts, and inspirations.