Who is a Black Brown Indigenous Melanated Person (BBIMP) who has inspired you or your work?
Frenchie of Aroha Knits
How do you find inspiration?
Oftentimes, I find that inspiration finds me! I enjoy “doodling” with yarn, or starting off with a photo that inspires me, and going from there.
Share your maker journey. How did it all begin for you?
I started knitting in 2015 when I went on a knitting road trip with some friends…all before I even picked up my knitting needles! But from that day onwards, I knew that I was a knitter through and through. I started designing through the workshop hosted by Aroha Knits, and the reception to my first design was so warm and welcoming that I never really stopped since then.
What is your favorite design, recipe, creation?
My favorite design so far is the 27 Sweater, currently in testing. Based on the Bernie Sanders mittens, I wanted to create a free, quality, sweater pattern that would encourage makers to support their local grassroots movements…just as Senator Sanders would want!
Do you feel being a BBIMP has an impact on how your creativity is viewed/received?
Definitely. Oftentimes, I find myself the only BBIMP at knitting and fiber events, especially since I live in a predominantly white area. Connecting with other BBIMP through Instagram and other online means has given me more confidence to speak out about the issues that are present daily for us BBIMP folk. I also love that I’ve been lucky enough to develop a strong and compassionate community around my work, both in regards to my knitting designs and my advocacy.
What are you working on right now?
Right now I am knitting a Cozy Classic Light, which is a wonderfully-sized garment pattern by Jessie Mae (another fantastic BBIMP maker!).
How does your creative work| craft help you?
Crafting definitely has a lot of emotional and mental health-related benefits! I also enjoy that the creative process allows me to work a very different part of my brain than what I ordinarily use for my day job.
Tell us a little bit about your practice or the steps you take to create your work.
In addition to doodling with yarn or beginning with an inspiration photo, I typically knit two samples for each design — one out of stash yarn to make sure it “works”, and one out of the yarn from the dyer I choose to work with for that specific pattern. I approach dyers who are either also BBIMP or share my values and advocate for those values, and I’ve made some incredible friends throughout this process. Working with these dyers makes me feel like I am practicing the ethics and values I like to talk about. I then recruit talented test knitters (to whom I am eternally grateful!), set up a supportive and judgment-free Instagram chat to coordinate test knits (and chat about daily life too) and go from there.
What’s the overall message you want your audience to take away from your work?
I want people to be empowered to make and wear the things they want. Everybody deserves beautiful things, whether made of big-box store acrylics or fine indie dyed yarns. Makers should be free to make the things that make them happy — no judgment or yarn snobbery allowed!
What is the most helpful resource for your business that you can share with us?
Instagram, although it has its share of problems, has been invaluable for building up the sense of community that sustains me and my work.
What is a personal habit that has helped you significantly in your business?
I remind myself to just have fun! At the end of the day, I’m lucky to be able to do what I love doing, with the support from people who not only enjoy my work but love me as a human being.
Where do you see your business|Crafting in 5 years?
I’d love to keep designing knitwear! Perhaps even open up an online store for patterns. At the moment, however, I’m happy to provide the majority of my patterns for free.
What is a lesson learned, from being a creative, that you wish someone had told you when you first started?
Again, to just have fun. You can always rip things out and re-knit!
What is something that you’re passionate about and why?
Besides making, advocacy — whether for BBIMP liberation, size inclusivity, disability rights, socioeconomic inclusivity in the hobby.