This past weekend, Francoise Danoy of Aroha Knits released a cowl pattern using one of my natural-dyed yarns. The response from the knitting community has been overwhelming, so thank you, everyone who has left kind words on social media, bought the pattern and the yarn and those who continue to support this little shop by spreading the word. Thank you.
I approached Frenchie way back in 2016 about working together, but it wasn’t meant to be as she was busy moving to the US and, to be honest, my mindset at that time was not the best either. So fast forward to June 2018 and I revisited the proposal with Frenchie. One thing led to another, and the next thing I knew I was sending two skeins of yarn to her in Japan! It was happening!
Things went back to normal, me back to my day job and then doing the side hustle when I can. I also co-own a local yarn store in Dubai so it is a pretty full-on life I lead. I have neglected the webshop for so long and I knew that once Frenchie sends out the pattern for test-knitting that I would have to get my act together.
She was kind enough to give me a heads up so that I had some decent listings when the testers started looking for yarn. It always makes my heart swell when a knitter chooses my yarn to make beautiful things with. Sending my yarn babies off to their new homes is a bittersweet moment. The care I take in preparing each skein for the process of dyeing, the actual dyeing process, the reskeining, taking photos and uploading them on the shop and finally to being packaged carefully for their onward journey to their final destination – it all comes full circle when I see what knitters have made with my yarn babies.
So please, I implore you, if you have ever made anything using yarn dyed by me, please share them on social media (#dubaiknits), upload the photo on your Ravelry project page, tag me. This yarn mama wants to see what becomes of her yarn babies!
I am not the most prolific of indie dyers. My online presence is minimal, mainly because my main customer base is my local knitting group, the UAE Amiras. I made a conscious decision to try and broaden my horizon and this collaboration with Frenchie is proving to be a very wise decision. I cannot wait to see all the Whakairo Cowls in the coming weeks and months, whether made with my hand-dyed yarns or not. Frenchie did an amazing job with this design. I can try to tell you about the inspiration for the design but my words will not do it justice, so I will let Frenchie tell you in her own words:
Whakairo is the art of wood carving in Maori culture, a prominent and respected role. Many traditional structures, such as the posts of wharenui (meeting houses) or the prow of a waka (canoe), and objects like the taiaha (weapons) are covered in this elaborate carved decoration. While it is a work of art, the carvings also tell a story. Whakairo requires patience and diligence and is a skill that many Maori continue to hone to both honour their heritage and carry the stories and lessons embedded in the carving forward.
Knitting, like whakairo, requires patience and diligence. I use knitting, specifically knitwear design, to honour my heritage and carry the stories, values, and lessons of my people forward. I wanted to create a piece to pay tribute to this art form, which I was able to recreate the feel through the usage of twisted stitches and cables for a fabric rich in texture.
On a personal note, some members of my family are wood-carvers, using their talents to decorate wharenui and marae.
The Whakairo cowl is worked bottom-up, starting at the cast-on tip, growing as a triangle until the desired width is achieved, then worked straight up to form the body around the neck. Buttons and buttonholes are then attached so you can close the piece. There are options to work the body in the round for a buttonless version or to turn it into a shawl.
How beautiful is this cowl, huh? I may have squealed and cried a bit when Frenchie posted a sneak peek of it on Instagram. The twisted stitches makes it all happen. I’m not usually a fan of twisted stitches, esp when it’s just for cuffs of socks or brim of hats, but in this case, normal stitches would drown out the effect that Frenchie wanted to make with the overall design.
Here are some of the colours currently available in the shop. My shopping cart setup is being revamped so this listing shows the inventory of all items. If you want to make a purchase, click on the item to open the page and then fill in the “Reserve This Item” details at the bottom of the listing. I will then send you a Paypal invoice to complete your purchase. If you have any questions, you can email me on email@example.com or leave a message on my social media sites (Instagram and Facebook).