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Interview series 7 – Francoise Danoy aka Frenchie of Aroha Knits

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Photo of Francoise Danoy wearing her Paikea Shawl design. She has dark hair dyed with lighter ends, wears glasses, and has a tā moko (traditional Māori tattoo) on her chin.

In 2017 we ran a survey of Stitchmastery users and one response particularly caught our imagination – someone told us they would like to hear from other Stitchmastery users and how they make use of the software. We’re delighted to bring you a series of interviews with designers, tech editors, magazine editors and teachers – we hope you enjoy reading them!

Interviewee – Francoise Danoy

1) When did you start designing and coaching? Could you give us a potted history of your path through the industry?

I started designing only a few months after I learned how to knit (January 2014). However, I decided to get really serious with designing, switching from hobby to making it into a sustainable source of income in January 2015. 2016 was the year when I started teaching/coaching aspiring knitwear designers after spending 2015 figuring out how to create designs consistently, developing a framework that I could train to others. After determining what my two main paths were to be, designing knitwear and teaching knitwear design, I focused on exploring those two paths and how to grow my business and audience based on them.

2) Do you have any recurring sources of inspiration or unusual muses?

My Maori background is my primary source of inspiration. Whether it’s traditional motifs, or stories and legends that have been passed down, or cultural values, I always start there.

Francoise Danoy wearing her Karekare sweater
3) When you have an idea, do you always work to a set workflow (e.g., swatch-knit-chart / chart first then knit) or does your approach change with each design?

Always to a set workflow! In my early days of designing, my approach was very sloppy and disorganized so each pattern release would leave me drained. And I would always be stressing over having to come up with something entirely unique and special, for the pattern to be of any worth.

I had to get rid of that mindset quickly and learn how to create a workflow to project my time and energy. By creating a workflow, it gave me the structure I needed, while enough flexibility to allow my creativity and imagination to take over. The workflow I developed I call the S.W.A.T.C.H. framework and is the basis for my signature knitwear design program, the SWATCH Studio Circle. I teach this exact framework that I use for my own designs to others who are wanting to create publish-worthy patterns (and it works!). Aspiring knitwear designers are always welcome to sign up to receive my free roadmap:

4) What made you choose to use Stitchmastery? Is there a particular feature you use most regularly or couldn’t do without? And is there anything you wish Stitchmastery could do?

I purchased Stitchmastery in the very early years of my designing career. October 2014, right when I was starting out? I remember it being a very scary investment at the time because I had such little money, but I made my money back with my first pattern release that used Stitchmastery and continues to be the best investment I’ve made to this day. This is why I purchase a license to students who enroll in my knitwear design program, the SWATCH Studio Circle because it is THAT good.

The fact that Stitchmastery creates both the chart AND the written instructions enables me to make sure my work is accessible to as many people as possible. While I love charts, not everyone can read them. So having the written text helps so much too.

5) Please tell us about your latest publication or next exciting project!

I have a lot of different types of projects going on: design commissions with indie yarn dyers, writing projects with third-party publications, and preparing for teaching internationally this year! I don’t think that I’m going to be working on anything *new* per-say, but just more of solidification of what’s been working for me and amplifying it so I can grow more this year. But one big project that’s coming up in the future that I really want to see come to fruition is writing and publishing my first book!

You can find Frenchie on Instagram as @arohaknits and find out more at

Francoise Danoy wearing her Taimana Cowl

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