victorious wool

My Sister's Braids and Empowering Native Women Initiative

Victoria BurgessComment

Empowering Native Women Initiative

Each month The Farmer’s Daughter Fibers is hosting collaborations with fellow makers to raise money for Montana’s Human Trafficking & Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women (MMIW) Task Force and their local YWCA in Great Falls, MT. The task force’s primary objectives are fostering education, raising awareness, and bolstering prevention efforts on the local level. This local YWCA serves 7 counties and 3 reservations. Follow @thefarmersdaughterfibers on Instagram to stay tuned for more information on this important cause. You can check out last month’s fundraiser and donate here.

(When the collaboration between The Farmer’s Daughter Fibers and myself goes live I will update this post. It should be sometime mid-May.) 

I have a lot I could write about this latest pattern. The concept began in August of last year and it’s finally making its debut 8 months later. Honestly, I’ve felt a little jaded about self-publishing after my first year of business. I definitely feel that self-publishing pays designers the most since there’s only a couple of middle man fees (Ravelry and Paypal/Squarespace). But it’s still a rough world of self-promotion. Getting your work noticed and seen takes so much effort.  

I see now why most small businesses fail within the first 5 years, it’s hard to believe things will get better when you’re trying your best to be heard in a room full of people. Not to mention the doubt that what I have to say and design matters at all or if I even have a right to design. 

I know I need to continue, I will continue. But the scary thing is I don’t know what’s going to happen. This is when you chime in with, “no one knows what’s going to happen to them, their source of income, in the world, etc.” We’re all doing our best to just get on with it. Even though I’m scared, more scared than I was when I first started, I just have to get on with it. Introducing My Sister’s Braids. 

The Construction

This shawl is a top down triangle shape with a wide center spine of cables that twist like wrought iron. As it gets larger, smaller cables are added on either side that radiate from the center. Ribbing borders the bottom edge and tassels adorn each point. 

The Concept

This is the first design where I made a mood board before I came up with a single idea. I chose the yarn and really looked at it, at what it reminded me of. I put together a board on Pinterest and looking back at it now, I’m surprised how clearly my original ideas come across in the shawl.

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I saw the browns, dirty reds, yellows, and turquoise in the yarn as very earthy colors. For the first time I really felt the unique quality of The Farmer’s Daughter Fibers colors. Plants, metals, gems, southwestern, western, mint chip ice cream, so many things came to mind. This part of the process was wonderful and truly enjoyable to engage in. 

Finding the techniques and patterns that would represent these ideas, shapes, and feelings was also fairly easy. Getting the patterns I chose to work how I imagined was not. I ripped out 3” baby shawls over 20 times to get the first part of the shawl to look clear and elegant. The yarn taught me very quickly what stitches just made a confusing mess. Reverse stockinette came forward as the perfect background for the cables and the varied color in the Heartbreak Hotel colorway. When recently asked if I was excited to see what other colors people knit my shawl with, I thought ‘I can’t imagine it looking better than it does in the color I chose.’ I really can’t. If my goal was to show off hand dyed speckled yarn I succeeded.  


The Emotion

Really my goal was to design something I actually like. This shawl feels like my first novel. I don’t know how I could design something so nice again. I also need to say that I have no idea where the ideas came from. They appeared one by one as a gift and I suspended my ego and stupidity long enough to grasp onto them and make them into something I love. 

The Name

I had another name for this shawl while working on it, but it’s called My Sister’s Braids because of The Farmer’s Daughter Fibers’ Empowering Native Women Initiative and my dear friend Tania. This little feeling came over me and whispered, “donate patterns to Candice’s initiative.” I asked Tania what she thought and she named it My Sister’s Braids on the spot. The cables look like braids, we’re like sisters to each other, it was perfect.   

The whole creative process of My Sister’s Braids has been humbling but wonderfully rewarding. If you feel so inclined, I hope you enjoying knitting it.

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The pattern is for individual sale in my website’s pattern store and on Ravelry. Please enjoy 10% off My Sister’s Braids until Friday 5/3/19 Midnight PST by using code BRAIDS.