Goldfinch Blankets on Design Influences, Maker Culture, and Making It Through Winter

It’s the cozy time year… meaning don’t we all just want to curl up with a soft blanket and wait until spring? Naturally, we turned to Goldfinch Blankets, where founders Debra Herdman and Caroline Vaaler transform beautiful textiles into wonderful blankets—and gloves, shawls, throws, towels and napkins—from their studio near Lake Calhoun. That is, when they’re not traveling around the world in search of luxurious natural fibers and Old World skill they can incorporate into their pieces.

Debra Herdman (right) and Caroline Vaaler, partners in Goldfinch Blankets

Herdman was kind enough to answer a few questions about what’s new at Goldfinch, what we need to get us through the winter, and how she feels about the burgeoning maker culture in Minnesota. Here’s what she had to say:

What’s new at Goldfinch?

We’re adding more textiles for different areas of the home—smaller things such as tea towels and napkins made from linen. We also just returned from Mexico in search of weavers, and we hope to bring in some new textiles from that country. Cotton and wool are the dominant fibers in Mexico. Goldfinch has not used cotton yet, and we’re excited to add this natural fiber to our collection.

What inspires you to create new designs and to keep expanding your catalog?

Our biggest influences are textiles from other countries that have long weaving histories. There is so much to learn and explore. What we like to do is absorb the influences from ethnic textiles, then simplify and modernize them.

 More makers are setting up shop in the Twin Cities! How does Goldfinch keep differentiating itself?

We think the maker movement is creating a fundamental shift in the type of products people want. People are again appreciating things made by hand—things that take longer to make. Both of us have always treasured handmade items, even when they weren’t as desirable as they are today. One difference between us and other makers is that our products are not locally made. We are trying to perpetuate the knowledge and practice of craft in other countries while helping artisans to grow their businesses and support their families. When we find artisans in Minnesota or elsewhere in the U.S. who weave or make something that would blend with our products and style, we’d like to add them to our collection as well.

It’s winter—and it’s been a gloomy one at that. What from Goldfinch do we need to keep our spirits up?

Something very comforting to the soul is to make some tea, cocoon yourself in a soft blanket or throw, and read or watch a movie or take a nap. When you have to go out to face an unwelcoming winter day, a beautiful fine wool scarf will light up your face and your spirit.

What’s the one thing you wish everyone knew about Goldfinch?

I wish everyone knew what a thrill it is for us to work with weavers, to keep learning about textiles and to use natural fibers as the vehicles for our design vision. We would also like people to know we produce in small quantities. We look forward to each new shipment to see how the human hand has created variances from the last.

by Camille Lefevre


Personal Designer

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