Francoise Danoy is a Maori diaspora knitwear designer best known for her transformative use of Maori shapes and pattern. For her brand Aroha Knits, she uses the medium of knitting to explore and claim her cultural heritage. In this interview edition of my knitting podcast, I chat with Francoise all about the way she’s been inspired to incorporate her Maori heritage into her knitting designs.
The Mid-Winter Knits collaboration
I invited Francoise to collaborate with me on the Mid-Winter Knits collection, and we designed a set of accessories knit in sumptuous yarns. In the interview, we chat about our different approaches to knitting as diaspora designers, and how we got started. For Aroha Knits, Francoise always uses design as a way of learning more about her Maori culture & heritage. In turn, she’s able to educate other more widely about the customs, practices and language.
Exploring starry skies with yarn & fibre
For our collection, we were inspired by the practice of stargazing at Matariki. This festival is the Maori New Year held at the Winter Solstice. We chose to interpret the night sky using yarns and fibres, making creative use of different lace stitch patterns. I designed the Starlit Night fingerless mitts, and Bundle of Stars shawl knitting pattern. Blue tonal hand-dyed yarn formed the background, and stars were created using lilac or silver mohair-silk yarn. Do check out Francoise’s designs too – the Whetu hat & Whetu cowl.
I hope you enjoy the interview. Visit Francoise’s website at ArohaKnits.com.