I have admired from afar the work of Devan of Francofille Knits. She has a beautiful sense of color and I really wanted to try some of her yarns. I first approached her asking if she would be willing to do a swap and as she kindly said yes I then asked if she would be willing to do an interview for the blog and maybe even donate a skein of yarn for one of my readers. And she again said YES!
I’m currently knitting a pair using her yarn for the main color and using a pattern I have made up myself. I have sock one all done and I’m passed the heel on sock 2.
So here is my interview with Devan and I hope you will enjoy reading that and getting to know her.
Tell me a little about yourself, where do you come from and where do you live and work today?
Let’s see. I’m the indie dyer and designer behind Francofille Knits, and I host the Francofille Knits podcast. For the last year, my husband and I have been living outside of a very small town in rural Indiana—our property is surrounded on all sides by corn and soybean fields! Having grown up in the suburbs of Chicago, and living in college towns my whole adult life, this has been quite an adjustment for me, but one I’ve absolutely loved. Living in the country, the pace of life slows significantly, and I have more time to notice and appreciate the world around me. I like to think that my dyeing and designing has benefited from this more intuitive and relaxed lifestyle.
Are you a knitter/crocheter/spinner/ weaver ? And if you do all, which craft is your most favorite?
I’m a knitter first and foremost, but I also dabble in crocheting and spinning. I’m a relatively strong crocheter, but my spinning needs a lot of work! Knitting is absolutely my happy place.
When did you learn to knit/crochet/spin/weave ? Do you remember who taught you?
I learned to knit and crochet when I was 16. That summer, I was working as a counselor at a summer camp, and saw one of the British counselors knitting on a scarf and begged her to teach me! Lucky for me, she was patient enough to take on a student, and by the end of the summer, I was half way through the lumpiest, most uneven garter stitch scarf ever! A few months later, I was watching a movie with one of my friends, when she pulled out an afghan and started crocheting. Once again, I was obsessed and desperate to learn how to crochet. I started several crochet blankets in high school, with my friend’s help, but I’m not sure if I actually finished any of them. I ended up putting both the knitting and crocheting down while I was in college, but ended up picking them both back up when I was in graduate school, because I needed a way to unwind that had nothing to do with my academic life.
Do you have a favorite type of project that you regularly turn to? Like socks or shawls etc.
I always have at least one pair of socks on the needles, and a sock pattern I’m writing up. I usually have a shawl or two going as well. I’m not a monogamous knitter—I need to be able to bounce from project to project as the mood strikes or I’ll quickly lose my knitting mojo. Lace, cables, brioche, texture, I love it all!
Would you say that fibre crafts have become a lifestyle for you ?
Absolutely! Before starting Francofille Knits, I was a French professor—I earned my PhD in French Linguistics. If you ever have trouble sleeping, I’d be happy to send you a copy of my dissertation—300+ pages on a specific change in word order in 13th-16th century French! But, fate had a different plan for me than I had expected, and about a year ago, I found myself leaving my career in academia for a variety of reasons. Thank god for fibre crafts! My love of fibre crafts provided me with a new career, one that I have found just as fulfilling and satisfying as my previous career!
How did you come to dye yarn and how long have you been dyeing yarn ?
I’d been wanting to learn how to dye yarn for almost a decade! When the stress of writing my dissertation would get to me, I’d daydream about opening a yarn shop and selling hand dyed yarn. I finally decided to take the plunge in April 2016 (just over a year ago!), and I haven’t looked back! Inspired by some friends of mine (Ally & Abby of the Get Lit and Knit podcast), I took a class on yarn dyeing at YarnFest in Chicago, and it literally changed my life.
When did you decide to go professional and open a yarn shop ?
Like I said, I had been daydreaming about becoming a fibre artist for a long time. But, I don’t think I actually started taking it seriously until June 2016. I was having so much fun dyeing yarn, and dyeing up yarn faster than I could ever knit it. I decided, after much Instagram support, to open up an Etsy shop to sell my extra skeins, and the rest is history!
What is the inspiration behind your shop and your yarns?
The inspiration for everything in Francofille Knits comes from my love of France and the world around me. As you might have guessed from my shop name and previous career, I’m an absolute Francophile, and have been since I was a little girl. I took my first French class when I was 5, and instantly fell in love with the language. The further I progressed in my studies, the more I fell in love with France, it’s people, it’s culture and it’s history! All of my colorways are inspired by places I’ve visited, people I’ve studied, or the French language itself.
When reading your about page on Etsy, you mention that the shop name comes from your love of France and everything French. Have you lived in France yourself ?
I have, but not for long enough! I spent 5 months in Avignon when I was in college, way back in 2004. I then got to spend a summer in St. Brieuc, Bretagne in 2010. I’ve also gotten to travel to France several times, and even got married in France (St. Andiol, near Avignon) in the summer of 2015. That was a real adventure, as I was the only person in our group of 16 who spoke French. It was such a great experience, and I wouldn’t change a moment of it!
What are your most popular colorways?
It’s hard to say, because it changes all the time! I change out the colorways in the shop every few months, based on my mood and the seasons. If I had to pick a few, I’d say “Summer in Provence,” “Monet,” “Bûche de Noël” and “Sunset over the Seine” have probably been the most popular ones so far (and some of my favorites too!).
Is there anything exciting going on in your shop these days ? Do you still have spaces for your Advent Calendar?
I’ve currently got a wide selection of fall colorways that I’m really quite proud of! I also have just a few spots left for my Advent Calendar, 12 Days of Christmas, and Happy Hanukkah miniskein sets! I’ve been having an absolute blast dyeing up all the yarn for these sets for the last few weeks, and can’t wait to get them shipped off to their new homes!
What do you have coming up for the shop til the end of this year? Any special deals/events/kals ?
Speaking of the holidays, in the next few weeks (mid October) I’ll be releasing my Holiday colorways and November Sock Club. Every month, I dye up a small batch of a secret colorway and design a sock pattern to go along with it. It’s such a fun creative project for me, and I think my customers enjoy it too as it always sells out, and there are several who sign up month after month!
Where do you see your business in say 5 years from now ?
I’d love to be able to quadruple my output and have several stores that carry my yarn. I just did my first craft fair, and loved it! I’m definitely planning on organizing a few trunk shows and signing up for some fiber festivals in the future as well.
In addition to your yarn dyeing, you also design patterns that you sell on Ravelry. Have you been designing long ? How did you come to designing your own patterns?
I’ve been designing for almost as long as I’ve been knitting. The first pair of socks I ever knit, actually, were my own design (I modified a vanilla sock pattern, adding a lace motif to the top of the foot). I only started writing up my patterns at the beginning of 2016, though. My first pattern was also my most ambitious to date—the Amboise Shawl, inspired by the Château d’Amboise. I absolutely love that triangular lace shawl, especially because it looks so impressive while being a fairly intuitive knit!
Is knitwear design something that you would like to develop further ?
Absolutely! It’s so much fun coming up with the right pattern to go with the colorways I dye up. It’s so incredibly satisfying!
What type of item/garment do you most enjoy designing? Does the inspiration for your patterns also come from France ?
I think the shawl designs have been the most fun, but designing socks has been a fabulous challenge, mostly because I’ve put out one (almost) every month this year. Some of the patterns are more obviously inspired by France than others—the Amboise Shawl, and another shawl inspired by Chenonceau which hasn’t been test knit/published yet—while others are inspired by my home in rural Indiana.
And as if dyeing yarn and writing patterns wasn’t enough; you also podcast! Tell us about that. How did you come to podcasting, is that something you enjoy doing and for someone that is not familiar with your podcast, what would you say is the “theme” or main emphasis in your podcast. What will be find there.
I started podcasting at the beginning of 2016, in part because I knew that there were some significant changes coming in my life. I knew that I was going to be changing career paths and that my husband and I would be moving, and wanted a creative outlet that would connect me with the online knitting community even more than I already was. I had been a fan of the Knitmore Girls podcast and YarnGasm (and the long defunct Electric Sheep podcast) for years, and just decided to dive right in! My podcast format is typically fairly standard, talking about what I’ve been working on, what’s going on in my life (just a little) and going over what yarn I’ve dyed up that week. During the month of October, I’ve decided to challenge myself to do Vlogtober—recording videos every single day! So far, I’ve been able to stay on track!
For those that want to follow you and your shop, what would you say is the best venue for that ?
Instagram, for sure! For my personal knitting/life pics, you can follow me @bdevan, and for all things shop related you can follow @francofilleknits!
A big thank you to Devan for taking the time to reply to all my questions. To check out her knitting patterns on Ravelry, just click here
To check out her Etsy shop and her fabulous yarns just click here
Devan has generously accepted to donate a skein of yarn to one of you. To take part in this giveaway, just hop over to her shop and then come back and tell me what your favorite colorway is. The winner will receive this glorious skein hand dyed by Devan.
I will draw a winner using Random.org a week from today or october 24th. Good luck to everyone!