Fickle Knitter Interview with Judy Schmitz of

Fabulous Yarn

I met Judy for the first time on the TNNA market floor in June of 2010. We bonded over our brand-new-to-the-world ipads and when she told me she worked in San Francisco in the early 80s doing certifiable punk rock things I knew I liked her.

Judy is a truly fascinating individual who works at her art every day. These days her art is running Fabulous Yarn out of Tivoli, New York and living a bucolic family life with her husband and two children.

If you’re not familiar with Tivoli, you should be. Fabulous Yarn is the closest shop to the Rhinebeck, New York Dutchess County Sheep and Wool Festival held yearly in October. Please make a point to stop by the Fabulous Yarn flagship yarn shop to fondle all the wonderful yarn and to meet my favorite East Village Rocker and Yarn Shop Owner, Judy. If you really want to get on her good side, ask her if she wants an espresso!

Judy, do you have any formal business training?
Yes, astoundingly, I was the highest paid graduate placed out of the Fashion Institute at the time of my graduation – with a degree in business merchandising. I went in as a design student, and hated patternmaking – no wonder I can’t do lace and – came out as an ace business student. Who was also a punk rocker. Go Figure.

I graduated from the Fashion Institute in San Francisco FIDM with a business degree. I went in for DESIGN after dropping out of SF STATE because the Classical Voice program was too intense and interfered with my performing life.

I went into FIDM as a design student, but it was totally boring. I found, even tho I was always a compltete failure at MATH, that I was an absolute whiz at merchandising (something to do with hunting, gathering and shopping I guess). I graduated, a total punk rocker who never wore matching socks, at the top of my class, and was the highest placed business graduate the school had ever had, having gone for an interview with the vice president of merchandising at Koret of California and absolutely bowling over the straightest, weirdest british chick I’d ever met. but she loved my green hair.

I was living a triple life. 1 – I was the design director for DAMAGE magazine, a punk rock music magazie 2 – I bought 2 knitting machines and started creating knitwear which I sold to high end stores in SF 3 – I worked during the day in the straightass world of Fashion at the straighest company you’d ever seen.

I got tired of that, and was then hired by Nickie ‘Necktie’ graham to be the designer for his line of boxer shorts – yes, you got it – JOE BOXER. Except, they sucked. I revamped the line to focuson sexy SILK boxers instead of COTTON boxers and the company took off – yhes, I take credit for it – completely. Nick grhama was the owner, and he was also in the punk rock scene. His dad didn’t like me – i was too uppity, so he fired me AFTER i created the biggest hit they ever had. WHen I met my husband, guess what he slept in? MY BOXERS!

Moved to NY and became a full time East Village Rocker. ……

This is one of Judy’s very cool demos as found on youtube. In fact it’s her “Very first pro studio recording in SF with Norman Salant on WICKED saxophone combo performance art dance bash.”


When did you quit your button down day job for Fabulous Yarn?
11 months ago last year. [Fickle Note: Fabulous Yarn has been open since 2006, evolving first from a machine knit high end sweater making business started by Judy in 2003 to what you see today]

What’s the best thing about owning Fabulous Yarns?
All the cool people I meet. Plus, I get to buy AS MUCH YARN AS I WANT! (but, my husband still screams at me)

What’s the most difficult thing about owning a yarn shop that no one warned you about?
Customer Service. Easily taking up more than one person as a fulltime job. Compounded by the new internet etiquette issues, which are part of my being and fiber, so I get it. (no pun intended). Oh, and managing employees.

Do your kids knit?
No way. Won’t touch the stuff. They just say ya, nice mom.



About Michelle

Knitting Tin Hats since 2004.
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2 Responses to Fickle Knitter Interview with Judy Schmitz of

  1. Pingback: Purl Shawl featured in Vogue Knitting’s 30th Anniversary Pearl Issue |

  2. Robin Horaist says:

    I LOVE LOVE LOVE FABULOUS YARN!!!! Your shop has the best of the best yarns. I can’t live without it!! And I totally get the “Hunting, gathering, shopping!!” I have tons of yarn!!

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