The 4 Pillars of the Aroha Knits Framework

Today I am pulling back the curtain on the Aroha Knits brand, and letting you in on some behind-the-scenes reflections.

These past few weeks have been a time of introspection and meditation. I have been really digging deep into why I do what I do (aka, why I design knitwear), who I do it for (the Fibre Muse), and now it is shifting to answering the question of "how to do it".

If you have been following me for awhile, you know that I am passionate about creating an enriching, exciting, and empowering knitting experience for my tribe of Fibre Muses. I believe that knitting should be a blissful experience, and that our finished projects should bring us joy, so I aim to create patterns for that purpose.

However, I wanted to go a bit deeper. We do not knit for the sake of knitting. We knit as a form of self-care, self-discovery, selflessness, and self-expression. It is a form of self-actualization—it makes us feel complete.

Knitting is a quiet magic that connects us to our pasts, helps us stay grounded in the present, and shapes our futures.

As I came to these realizations, I learned some things about myself and my business, too.

For the longest time, in fact since I started designing, I was releasing patterns monthly without much structure or thought. I would design what inspired me, but did not really think much about connecting it to something bigger than myself.

Then I created the Fibre Muse Alchemy Kits, at the beginning of the year—a quarterly luxury subscription yarn club that brings all of my favorite aspects of the fibre industry together: handmade items from small and local businesses paired up with thoughtful designs, all curated together to evoke one of the four Fibre Muses (first time hearing about the Fibre Muse? Click here to read more). It was a great hit, and seeing the reactions from the first shipment really solidified how much my community loved the kits.

Yet, something was still missing. The Alchemy Kits were only available to a small portion of my community—it is an exclusive offering that is only available for sign-ups once a year. It is not a core part of the Aroha Knits brand (but it certainly plays a big part), and because it is so exclusive, I wanted to do something that could bring more people in, while also elevating the aspect of my business, which I love to do the most: design knitwear. 

I learned that the Fibre Muse Alchemy Kits take a lot of time and effort to manage, and dealing with single pattern releases every month, among my other activities, was much too exhausting. I needed to find a way to simplify my business, which would still allow it to grow and bring ME joy.

Hence, the creation of the Fibre Muse Quarterly and from that, the Fibre Muse brand. Over the past week I have been developing a framework that not only identifies the core pillars of creating an enriching, exciting, and engaging knitting experience in my brand, it also structures and simplifies what I need to do. And this framework is, appropriately enough, centered around the four Fibre Muses.

The Fibre Muse is the main circle: the outcome. I want to elevate knitters and transform them into Fibre Muses, so that they, in turn, can confidently transform their yarn into fibre art that inspires bliss and excitement within them.

And the way I do this is…

1) Mystic (the Muse of Self-Care): Create offerings, such as the Alchemy Kit and the Quarterly Publication that inspire awe, bliss, and excitement. Everything, from the design of the patterns, to the layout of the publication, to the item selection in the boxes are all chosen for that specific purpose. Shifting from single monthly pattern releases to quarterly publications, focused around a specific theme, helps me bridge the gap between my design inspirations and deeper knitting experiences.

2) Seeker (the Muse of Self-Discovery): Challenges have played a huge part in my brand. If you have participated in the 5 Shawls, 5 Days or the Initiate Knit Design challenge and enjoyed them, then I have some new ones in the pipeline headed your way. Challenges are great, because of the low commitment to time, while the results are tremendous. In addition to challenges are KALs. I have never done much with KALs, but I am realizing that I need to be doing more of these! KALs are a much longer version of challenges (1 month vs 5 days). During that time, I can invest time and energy into encouraging knitters to try new techniques, set outside their comfort zone, and help them end up with a beautiful knit project at the end.

3) Giver (the Muse of Selflessness): The Fibre Muse Sanctuary plays such a huge part in the Aroha Knits brand experience. It is a place of support, motivation, and inspiration where knitters from all parts of the globe come together for one common purpose: to share our love of yarn.

4) Dreamer (the Muse of Self-Expression): Social media, especially Instagram, are more as a place for story telling through images and words. Instagram is the platform that most people come to know me by, and it is a platform that I love to use. I have been slacking off on it, as of late, but since moving into our new apartment, with all the space and natural light, I'm feeling motivated once again to take beautiful photos + tell stories. I have had many people tell me that the Aroha Knits account is a source of inspiration, so I am now committing myself to really go forward with it.

Offerings. Challenges. Community. Instagram. These are the four pillars of the Fibre Muse framework, which all work together to help knitters elevate themselves into a Fibre Muse. So, they can feel more empowered transforming their yarn and creating projects that bring them joy and bliss.

This also brings me joy, because I can clearly identify where my energies need to be spent most, and has really simplified my business model. It feels very liberating to have a clear path and structure to follow that is for a defined purpose, instead of wandering along a road.

So there you have it—the core pillars of the Fibre Muse Brand framework! You will be seeing more and more about the first issue of the Fibre Muse Quarterly in the following weeks, but in the meantime, why don't you join us for the first Fibre Muse KAL? Chose one of these three patterns to cast-on, and we will see you in the Fibre Muse Sanctuary June 4th!

Transform your yarn,

Frenchie

Yarn Alchemist Spotlight Series: Episode 2

Kia ora Fibre Muses and welcome to episode 2 of the Yarn Alchemst Spotlight Series! This month I'm chatting it up with Heddi of Heddi Craft Designs. A multi-talented and multi-crafty Fibre Muse, Heddi has been a key player in the making of my signature e-course SWATCH Studio. A mother, a teacher, a crafter, a creator, a curriculum editor, is there anything she can't do? The answer: nah!

Enjoy listening to this month's Yarn Alchemist! Note: this is a sample of the episode. Listen to the full episode over at Patreon!

Places to find her:

Instagram | Facebook | Ravelry | Website

 

Keeping Her S**T Together: Interview with Hanna Lisa

I don't know when I first started following Hanna on IG, but I *do* know that I did because I found her aesthetic to be right up my alley. We cultivated a relationship over the past year - first when she took my free mini e-course on organically growing her IG audience, to now scheduling Skype dates to gush over business and marketing (and planning our first meet up in Japan. One day!).

Maker of hand-made project bags, to Creative Boss Consultant helping other creatives achieve their dream of running an online business in the fiber industry, Hanna is a woman of many talents and hats! Here's her interview. Enjoy!


The lovely, intelligent and kick-ass Hanna Lisa!

The lovely, intelligent and kick-ass Hanna Lisa!

1. First off, what type of Fibre Muse are you? 

I’m a Dreamer!! And I couldn’t believe how accurate the description was when I took the quiz - I absolutely use knitting to express myself, and one of my favourite aspects about it is that every project tells a story. My favourite handmade knitwear pieces are the ones that tell a story from choosing the yarn to where I knit it to my first time wearing it. I love to be reminded of every single aspect of its story every time I wear that piece!

2. How did you first start get into designing/dyeing/making?

If I look back now it seems that I started knitting as a way to escape reality sometime in late 2014, early 2015. I had knit before, but never as much as I did then. I seriously doubted if I should stay in the job I had loved so much in a company that I had helped create - and knitting was an out, a way to just do something with my hands that would yield a beautiful result. That really was my entry into this fabulous makers community! When I left that job at the end of 2015 and went freelance, I knew that I wanted to start a little handmade label in addition to my freelancing work. I wanted to work with my hands and create actual, physical products. I started small, just by making a few basic zipper bags and putting them up in an online shop. Over the course of a few months I slowly developed more project bag designs, learned a lot about how to run an online shop (payment methods are important!) and realised that I really love sewing! I also learned that I can be endlessly inspired by the myriads of fabric and color and zipper combinations out there - working on a new collection is one of my all-time favourite things! 

IMG_6072.jpg

3. What’s your brand’s mission? How do you want to effect the Fibre Community?

The mission of my project bag brand (#hannalisahaferkampbags) is to provide knitters with project bags that are not only beautiful to look at, but also super functional. Now, beautiful to look at means a lot of geometric, clear designs - no frou frou, but instead combining the minimalist, Scandinavian aesthetic with the natural and punchy colors I love! With regards to functionality, one of my pet peeves is yarn that gets tangled in a project bag. My newest designs feature carabiners for un-tangled yarn and the freedom to try on your knitting at any time - something that’s not possible with the usual grommet constructions. 

On a broader scale, the mission of my personal brand that includes not only the project bags, but also my Creative Boss Consulting business, is to change the world by helping women build and run their own creative businesses. I am extremely passionate about feminism and gender equality and see the biggest lever I currently have to help us progress towards a more equal society in supporting female-owned businesses. Women who run their own business are not only more independent and empowered, but also give back a lot more to their communities than men - win win for all!

4. What is it about your work that lights you up?

Ohhh - everything? :) In all honesty, I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else right now. I love everything from juggling the making businesses and the consulting and coaching offers to developing new collections, sewing up orders and packaging them up. Most mornings I get up and I can’t believe that I’m lucky enough to be able to live this life! 

5. Where do you see yourself/your brand in 5 years?

I would love to have a broad portfolio of handmade products that have been developed and produced in collaboration with female-owned businesses. I see collections that are using patterns designed exclusively for us by female designers, a workspace filled with laughter, light and joy and a team of women of all ages who are sewing up orders, packaging them, chatting to our customers and feeling like they can be themselves without fear of being judged.

I also see a group of women who own their own businesses getting together once or twice a year, sharing their latest success stories and failures and marvelling at how much they’ve grown and pushed this Fiber community forward in the last five years. I love both aspects of my work - the project bag business and the consulting business - and I couldn’t imagine one working without the other.  

6. What words of wisdom would you like to share with aspiring makers and creators?

Do the work. Seriously, there is no silver bullet, no magic word, no formula to make success happen over night. You need to sit your butt in the chair and do the work. Every. Single. Day. Then results will come. Trust yourself, trust your instincts, and don’t give up doing the work and you will see how much it is going to pay off in the long run! 

7. What’s your favorite ice cream flavor?

ICE CREAM!!!! I love ice cream! My favourite flavour is French Chocolate from Hokey Pokey - the best ice cream spot in Berlin, and luckily (or unfortunately, depends) only a 10 min walk away from our place… 


Thank you Hanna for taking the time to be interviewed! You can find her at...

Website | Instagram | Etsy Shop

She's sponsoring this month's Patreon giveaway. One lucky Patreon will be awarded one of her carabiner knitting project bags. The bags have interior pockets with carabiners to keep yarn from tangling, ideal for colorwork! (How fun!)


Also, take a moment to support her newest undertaking, launching her first issue of Making Stories: WOODS! (Note: I'm going to be writing an article for it!). I am all about supporting small businesses that emphasize story-telling, and taking the reader/knitter on a journey of discovery and exploration around the world.

WOODS - making stories is a new knitting book that we created to share our passion for local, breed-specific European yarns, beautiful knitwear design and helping people expand their knitting knowledge. The book includes 11 minimalistic modern knitwear designs, profiles and interviews with amazing makers and lots of tutorials. Our goal is to bring people together through our craft and business ethos, and celebrate the creative talent and passion of hard-working fiber folks.

I have already pledged my support to WOODS! Have you? You can visit their IndieGoGo page here!

Getting Lost in a Wonderland of Colors: Interview with Frabjous Fibers

Hey there Fibre Muses and welcome to a new series of blog posts I'm launching this year! As part of my Patreon rewards, those who are members of my monthly Pattern club on Patreon get automatically entered into monthly giveaways from makers and creators in the fibre community. In exchange to donating a giveaway prize, sponsors get a special interview spot on the Aroha Knits blog, as well as a feature on my social media accounts. January's Patreon sponsor is Frabjous Fibers (aka Wonderland Yarns). I've worked with their yarns in the past on the Simply Familiar shawl, so I was extremely happy when they signed up to be the first sponsor for 2017. So without further ado, continue onwards to learn more about them and their story!


1. First off, what type of Fibre Muse are you? 

Three of us here at Team Frabjous took the quiz, and unsurprisingly, Stephanie, the leader of this fine crew, is the Dreamer. The rest of us knitters here are Seekers! 

2. How did you first start get into designing/dyeing/making?

Frabjous Fibers is a business with humble beginnings, born from a love of textiles and fiber arts and built on a desire to create a healthy work/life balance steeped in color and texture. For Stephanie, working with beautiful yarns led to spinning; spinning led to dyeing fiber; dyeing fiber led to dyeing yarn; and now the dedicated and enthusiastic team of Frabjous Fibers and Wonderland Yarns creates hundreds of unique products, happily elbows deep in color every day. 

3. What’s your brand’s mission? How do you want to effect the Fibre Community?

What started as a one-woman business structured to support worker-cooperatives in Nepal making yarns from recycled sari silk has grown, over the course of a decade, into so much more. Frabjous Fibers and Wonderland Yarns is now a dozen-strong team, providing jobs in the local community, dyeing all of our hand-dyed yarns and fibers in-house in Brattleboro, VT. We strive to provide the very best knitting experience possible, infusing our yarns with palpable loving care and attention in small batches, using the best possible materials from soft superwash merino wool to lustrous luxury fibers. 

4. What is it about your work that lights you up?

We love what we do! Our work environment is fun, flexible, and likely the most colorful place in town. Our team is a family, and we support each other in the ongoing creative process. We are never short of ideas, and most of us are knitters, fiber artists, or otherwise crafty folk, so the inspiration spark is always hot. 

5. Where do you see yourself/your brand in 5 years?

In the next few years, as we continue to grow our own brand, we'd love to become a distributor for other indie fiber artists/creators/makers, sharing what we've learned in our ten years in the industry and helping to widen their reach to shops all over the country and beyond. 

IMG_5832.jpg

6. What words of wisdom would you like to share with aspiring makers and creators?

Be patient with yourself, take baby steps, and hold fast when there are bumps in the road. Gather a supportive team around you, even if you're a one-(wo)man-band in the beginning. 

7. What’s your favorite ice cream flavor?

Some favorites of Team Frabjous members: Rocky Road, Moose Tracks, Chocolate with Peanut Butter Swirl, Cookies and Cream...we seem to be partial to chocolate around here! 


Thank you so much Frabjous Fibers team for taking the time to answer my questions, as well as be January's Patreon giveaway sponsor! You can find them online via the links below:


Do you want the chance to win some fiber-y prizes each month, in addition to getting all new Aroha Knits patterns early? Become a Patreon today!

Do you want to become a monthly Sponsor? Sign up here to express your interest!

Why You Should Stick with Your Current Subscription Box

With a new subscription box hitting the market soon, you're probably wondering if the Fibre Muse Alchemy Kit is worth signing up for. And honestly, you're probably better off with sticking with your current subscription box. These subscription boxes have been around for a much longer time and have a large consumer base, allowing them to expand their businesses and upscale. What does that mean? More customization and options for you! Not just in the yarn color ways, but the brands they work with. They can offer several patterns per box from different designers because they have the resources and reach. 

Because they have a larger customer base, they have better negotiation power for the items they curate for their boxes, resulting in deeper savings for you. Which is the whole point of a subscription box: you want to get great value each month!

The Fibre Muse Alchemy Kits offers value in a different way. While we aim to save you money on each kit, because we have chosen to work with small/indie, artisan, handmade, local businesses in the Fibre industry, the payoff for quality, unique products crafted and created with love and passion, is a higher price point. So I totally get it if the Alchemy Kits will be priced as a luxury item - because they are!

And because we're limiting subscription sign-ups to only 100 spots for the first launch, our negotiation powers are not going to be as influential (why would a maker want to give us a deeper wholesale discount when my audience is much smaller compared to the bigger box brands? And I don’t believe in paying just with “exposure"). However, we believe in paying makers what they are worth and collaborating in a way that is fair to everyone involved and contributing to the growth of the Fibre industry, especially the small brands.

But why should you care about the growth of the hand-made industry? It's more expensive and not as convenient and you're iffy on the quality of customer service and the product you’re buying. At least you know machine made is consistent! Hand-made, local or artisan are just buzz words to you and you don't really care that much (and maybe we *should* get real jobs!). And you know what? You're totally in the right to feel that way - because you’re not wrong.

But if you do care deeply about the Fibre industry and want the excitement that comes with hand-made, unique items, a tight-knit community, then the Fibre Muse Alchemy Kits may be right up your alley. Join the VIP launch list to be the first in line when the kits go live. 

 

Yarn Alchemist Spotlight Series: Episode One Becky

Welcome to the very first episode of the Yarn Alchemist Spotlight Series, a monthly podcast where I have a sit down with my design students of SWATCH Studio, and we talk about our love of fiber and our journey in knitting and designing. Full episodes of the podcast will be available to my Patreon/Subscription Box members in the future, so enjoy this free full episode and if you like it, you can sign up for $5 a month to get the next release, plus be entered into monthly giveaways.

This month I interview Becky Sorensen of Soprano Knits. Becky lives in Germany, and is an Opera singer who uses knitting and designing as another outlet for expressing herself creatively. She shared some truly amazing insights and nuggets of wisdom, as well as some cool parallels between music and knitting. I could not have asked for a better person to interview for our first episode.


Red Herring Hat

Red Herring Hat

Bachlein Shawl

Bachlein Shawl

Links! You can find her on...

Ravelry: http://www.ravelry.com/designers/becky-sorensen 

Ravelry Group: http://www.ravelry.com/groups/stringing-it-together-podcast 

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/sopranoknits/ 

Youtube Podcast: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCyiQCfUtwjw0fzNq6GrN0NQ/videos