What is the BIPOC MAL?
The BIPOC MAL is an annual make-a-long celebrating and supporting Black, Indigenous, and people of colour knit and crochet designers, hosted by Elisabeth of Desamour Designs. Check out her blog post here to learn more about how it got started and what prizes are up for grabs this year.
I kind of accidentally stumbled upon Elisabeth and her Desamour Designs Instagram page - one of the other creators/designers I follow is a sponsor of the MAL - but I believe it was meant to be. I am already a huge fan of her! She is not only an amazing crochet designer but she is also imparting so much of her wisdom and knowledge in the creative business field, it is amazing. I am truly grateful for everything I have learned from her in the short time I've been following her on social media.
Anyway, the 2020 BIPOC MAL is focusing on Black designers with less than 10K followers on Instagram. It was important to me to do my own research on which knitwear designers I could discover that fit this description and I am delighted that there were already a couple of designs in my queue that qualified and that I had the opportunity to discover new designers to follow (and covet their beautiful designs).
Since I am trying to get my blog up and running, I thought I would highlight my top picks of knitwear designers for the BIPOCMAL 2020.
1) Rebecca McKenzie - Raging Purl Wind
I have been a fan of Rebecca's work for quite some time and already had one of her patterns in my library on Ravelry, so I was delighted to discover she was a designer I could look to for the MAL (although surprised that she didn't have a larger following!)
Rebecca's designs that catch my eye have lace details and have a modern look that will easily fit into your regular wardrobe - exactly what I hope to achieve with my own designs.
Some of my favourite patterns include:
Follow Rebecca on Instagram @ragingpurlwind.
2) Kunbi Ayo-Okanlawon - Handmade by Kunbi
I don't know how I started following Kunbi but what I do remember was how radiant her smile was! It was in a photo for her newest design looking for testers and I instantly loved her (and her design)! The design, the Arewà Short Sleeve Pullover, is still being tested and I can't wait to get my hands on it once it's published. Kunbi also creates crochet designs too.
Here are some of her knit designs I love:
Follow Kunbi on Instagram @handmadebykunbi.
3) Jimenez Joseph - Jimi Knits
Jimenez was a new-to-me designer that I discovered doing research specifically for the MAL. It is pretty easy to discover various knit and crochet designers on Instagram using hashtags - #bipocinfibre and #bipocknitters were two I used. I quickly had lots of new accounts to follow and lots of new patterns to add to my favourites, including Jimenez's.
I was immediately drawn to the Jimi Knits feed because her designs were so clean and modern. I love knitting patterns than crush the idea that knitwear is frumpy and old-ladyish and that is exactly how I feel about Jimenez's designs. There is also some lace ones in there which is always my jam!
It was hard to narrow down my favourite so here is a select few:
Follow Jimenez on Instagram @jimiknits.
4) Tian Connaughton - Knit Designs by Tian
Tian is another person that I've been following for a while but I was paying more attention to her business tips and resources. Tian is an amazing business coach and mentor, specifically for creative businesses.
She recently posted about her upcoming KnitStars workshop and the top she was wearing really caught my eye. Then she posted that the pattern for the knit top was being released soon and I was thrilled. I knew that the 32 Market Tee would definitely be a contender for me for the MAL but when I looked more closely at Tian's designs, I realized there were a lot to consider! She has both knit and crochet designs in her shop.
Here are some of Tian's knit designs that I am loving:
* After I initially drafted this post, Tian shared her inspiration for the 32 Market Street - paying homage to her Jamaican heritage and the fight for social justice (please check out her blog post to read more). *
So, this is my short-list for projects for the BIPOCMAL. The make-a-long runs from October 1st to December 18th so there is likely enough time for me to fit in more than one project. Which one do you think I should make first? Do you have any favourite Black knitwear designers I should check out? Who have you discovered in your research? Let me know in the comments below!
I will be revealing my project for the MAL over on Instagram soon. Be sure to follow me @nicolethomasknits to find out which pattern I'll be casting on!
I highly recommend checking out BIPOC in Fibre which is a really great resource than includes a directory of BIPOC fibre artists. I particularly love that you can filter by type of fibre art (i.e. knitting or indie dyer) and you can search by location (I love finding other Canadians although the list is short right now). They are also on Instagram @bipocinfibre.
I especially love that this make-a-long is supporting designers with smaller followings because it is so important to me to help small businesses grow. I would love to know which new-to-you Black designers you discover for the MAL - let me know in the comments so I can follow them too!
Note: The links above are to the Ravelry listing for each design; if you cannot access Ravelry due to accessibility issues please let me know and I can help you an alternative link or visit the designer's Instagram page for more information on their designs.
This post is the first in a "Feature Friday" series, featuring knitwear designers, indie dyers and other fibre artist that I am loving. Stay tuned each month for a new Feature Friday!
Until next time, happy knitting.