Frenchie is a fellow POC maker and knitwear designer and has published some amazing women’s knitting patterns that are a reflection of her Maori heritage. She is also a mentor and founder of the Swatch Studio Circle – a program that helps budding designers enhance their knowledge and skills around knitwear design.
I have had the privilege of learning a lot of new skills through Frenchie’s Swatch Studio Circle! I am still working through the framework and hope to apply all the new information and skills to enhance my pattern designing process. Read on to get to know her or skip to the bottom if you would like to watch our recorded Live!
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Tell me a little bit about yourself and your business.
I am a Māori knitwear designer and design coach behind Aroha Knits. I aim to empower fiber muses to transform their yarn so they can manifest more Aroha in their lives. My designs draw heavy influence from my cultural heritage.
How many years have you been knitting for? How long have you been a knitwear designer for?
I have been knitting for 5 years, designing for 4 1/2 years.
What are your current WIPs?
I have two secret designs for publications, and one for self-publishing. That design I can talk about: it will be a colorwork tubular cowl inspired by the movie Aquaman, haha.
As a knitwear designer, what is your favorite thing to design and why?
Shawls! They are so versitle and the possibilities for designs are endless.
What are your goals for this year?
My main goal this year is to scale my business. I’ve spent the past few years growing my business, which required a lot of hands-on work. Now I’m shifting into automating a lot of my processes so I can focus more on designing and teaching. My other goal, which is happening (!), is to go to New Zealand to connect with my family. I’m going in October: first to a female Maori entrepreneur conference and then to spend time with my mother and granddad.
How do you balance being a mentor and knitwear designer?
I don’t really believe in “balance”. It’s more about intentional trade-offs. There are times when I have to really focus on a design, and other times when I have to focus on mentorship/coaching. But I always aim to remember to keep things simple and focus on my strengths, and try not to do everything. I take a look at my “What’s Now” and “What’s Next” tasks and ask myself which are the top 3 most important things to do.
One piece of advice for fellow POC makers?
If there is no space at the table, carve out your own. When I was first starting out, I was so frustrated by getting rejected by publications and magazines, that I decided I was going to work to become so big, they couldn’t ignore me and would start asking me to design for them. So far, this strategy has worked for me, as I’m now the one turning down designing gigs.
Here is one of Frenchie’s latest beautiful shawl patterns, the Taha Moana shawl.
A little bit about this knitwear design:
Can you smell the sea breeze?
When we think of shawls, we often think of warm wraps to cover ourselves with during the cold winter seasons. While this shawl can definitely serve that purpose (just use a wool-based fiber!), I created the Taha Moana (Te Reo Maori for “Seashore”) shawl to be a warm-weather accessory. This majestic and flowing shawl, conjures images of moonlight moments by the seaside or quiet reposes under the shade of palm trees overlooking sandy beaches.
The 3/4 shawl shape makes it easy to wear over the shoulders – much more wearable than a triangular shawl sometimes – but if you would prefer to knit a triangular version, instructions are included to make the modification! 4 colors were used in the original sample, but if you wish to make a 3 color or a 2 color version, instructions are included on how to do that as well.
This pattern is available for purchase in her Ravelry shop here.
Frenchie is currently running a FREE 5-day knitwear design challenge where she will take you through all the steps you need to start designing patterns! I participated in this challenge last year and it was exactly the push I needed to get comfortable with designing. I would highly recommend this challenge if you have been thinking about writing your own patterns but feel intimidated. The challenge starts on Aug. 5th, you can sign up over here.
You can find a recording of the Live that I did with Frenchie here!
If you are a mama designer and/or a POC designer and would like to be featured, you can fill out the form here.