Dye One, Purl Two: An Interview with Francoise Danoy of Aroha Knits

I’ve been a huge fan of Aroha Knits since a few months ago. She actually started designing soon after she learned how to knit, which is really inspiring to me. You don’t have to wait to really begin to delve deep into the gears of knitting- challenge yourself, and play. Let’s get into the interview!

How did you first get started designing?

I started designing not long after I learned how to knit! I picked up knitting as a hobby in January 2014 when I was living in States waiting to receive my US citizenship. I was bored out of my mind and quite missing my then-fiance (now husband) who was living in Japan at the time, and I really needed a hobby to keep my mind off of things. 

I didn’t expect to fall in love with knitting as much or as fast as I did – but I was immediately obsessed and wanted to learn and grow quickly. For me, the best way to learn new techniques and set outside my comfort zone was to design my own projects. From there, I started to write them up and upload them to Ravelry for fun. 

When I moved back to Japan to live with my husband, I couldn’t work (one, due to visa restrictions and two, there wasn’t any work for me in a tiny village!). So I got the ridiculous idea that I would somehow make my newly found passion for knitwear design into a profitable business and find a way for it to work.

Learn about the behind the scenes of a professional knitwear designer as I interview Frenchie from Aroha Knits. Click the pin to read more.

What are your favorite tools?

Yarn and needles are important but I LOVE my stitch markers, especially the artisan made ones. They are so colorful and beautiful and really add an extra spark to my WIPs.

How do you organize your supplies and WIP’s?

I’m pretty messy so I have to organize my stash and supplies every couple of weeks to keep things tidy. I work on one WIP at a time so it’s easy to manage that – it just goes into a bag! I have a storage case from Ikea that I use to hold my yarn – one drawer for yarn that I’ll be using soon and then yarn that I got that just looked pretty but can’t see myself using anytime soon. Sometimes that ends up being my giveaway prize stash.

Sacia’s Note: I do the same thing to organize my stash and WIPS, it works well to tackle it once a week for me.

What does your average day as a designer look like?

Mornings are for writing! There is a ton of writing involved in my business, surprisingly (or not surprisingly?). I have discovered that I am a morning person and need to get all of my heavy duty tasks out of the way in the morning. I can’t concentrate as well in the afternoon, which is when I’ll sit down to work on my samples. Morning, writing and admin tasks, afternoon, knit.

How did you progress as a designer so quickly?

If you may allow me to boast for a brief moment, I think it’s because I have a really strong work ethic, coupled with being able to learn things fast and being an action taker. I developed these skills in college, so even if I’m not using my International Relations and French degree in the proper fields, the skills and habits I learned during then definitely aren’t being put to waste.

I set a goal, and then I work my butt off to see it through.

What’s your favorite place to craft?

My bean bag or at Starbucks.

What are you working on right now?

The second issue of the Fibre Muse Quarterly, GIVER. I just finished up the inaugural issue, which started as a test/pet project, fell in love with the process so I am so excited to be working on this next issue. Right now I’m focusing on getting the design samples done before writing up the articles for the issue

What are your favorite aspects of running a design business?

Being my own boss and being able to do something creative and crafty as a career. It’s so fulfilling!

Any tips for someone looking to get started as a designer?

Just do it. But if you do need a bit more extra motivation and guidance, I run a FREE 10-day knitwear design workshop, Initiate Knit Design, where I lead you through the process of creating and developing your first pattern. It’s been wildly successful and many, many participants have been able to kickstart their design careers through this workshop. And then I have my SWATCH Studio course, which is Initiate Knit Design on steroids, where we go DEEP into knitwear design and where I’m fully present for coaching and guidance.

Sacia’s Note: So excited for Initiate Knit Design!!

But really, just do it!

Where can we find you?

You can find me on Instagram and Facebook @arohaknits. I have two websites, arohaknits.com and thefibremuse.com and then my Facebook Group, the Fibre Muse Circle. Come join us!

I just loved this interview! I learned so much, and I hope you did too. Be sure to check out the Fiber Muse and Aroha Knits- they are all so helpful. And if you’ve never knit a shawl before? Check out some of Frenchie’s AMAZING shawl patterns!


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