Yarn Support for Indie Designers: Interview with Clare from The Fibre Co.

A few months ago The Fibre Co. launched their Yarn Support for Indie Designers Programme, and I was lucky enough to participate in the first round. I got to collaborate with their lovely team on three designs, and have absolutely loved working with them. They recently opened the second round and put out a call for submissions, so I thought what better time to share a bit more about this programme and my experience? I always love chatting with other creatives (and who doesn’t love a glimpse behind the scenes?), so I couldn’t be happier that Clare Devine from The Fibre Co. agreed to do a little interview with me. I hope you’ll enjoy reading our conversation about all things independent designs and The Fibre Co., and do let me know in the comments if you have any questions!

 
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Two of the designs I did in collaboration with The Fibre Co. have recently been published, Seaside and North, and a third one is currently in the making.

 

The Fibre Co., founded in 2003 by Daphne Marinopoulos, is a UK based yarn company focussing on high quality yarns that are, at heart, as nature intended. For them, it has always been about a triple bottom line – people, profit and planet – and I love their perspective on sustainability, transparency and fairness.

As a designer and small business owner, I’m very grateful for the chance to approach collaborations intentionally and mindfully, for being able to decide whom I’d love to work with based on my core values, and for the opportunity to grow relationships with wonderful yarn companies. With sharing so many important values and goals, The Fibre Co. truly is a yarn company after my own heart, and I think it’s fair to say that their yarns are the epitome of bucket list yarns! As a matter of fact I hadn’t knit with any of them before I submitted my design ideas for their last call for submissions, and now that I have tried quite a few of their bases already, I can safely say that they keep what they promise.

While I absolutely love submitting proposals for individually published designs that aren’t part of a collection or publication, I always find myself particularly inspired by the ideas and moodboards that are usually included in calls for submissions for magazines and programmes. I was thrilled when I first heard about the launch of The Fibre Co.’s Yarn Support for Indie Designers Programme (or YSP for short), and over the moon when they accepted the three designs I came up with inspired by the theme and yarns their call for submissions was centred around. What I thought was extra exciting is that participants got to design with their then not-yet-released Arranmore Light, and if I were to pick a favourite out of all their bases I have worked with so far, it’d probably be this latest addition to their roster of yarny goodness (don’t tell the others!).

Working with Daphne, Clare, Alex and Kate has been nothing but an absolute pleasure, and if you’re a fellow designer, I’d love to encourage you to take a look at the collaboration options The Fibre Co. offer independent designers. I hope you’ll find our interview interesting and helpful – without further ado, here’s Clare!

 
 
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Clare, thank you so much for taking the time to chat with me! Can I dive in right away and ask you to tell us a bit about yourself and your work for The Fibre Co.?

Thank you so much for having me. I am the Design Manager here at The Fibre Company. That means I work closely with the founder, Daphne to help put together design collections and liaise with designers who want to use our yarns for their beautiful creations.

It’s no secret that I’m a big fan of The Fibre Co.’s Yarn Support for Indie Designers Programme, a programme launched earlier this year that’s all about collaborations with independent knitwear and crochet designers. What inspired you and your team to create this programme, and what interests you about working with independent designers?

We wanted to be able to give back to the design community – we really love independent designers here at The Fibre Co. and we know how hard designers work to create the beautiful designs they publish. We wanted a way to support designers and encourage their creativity and engagement with their audiences. Many of our other collections are centred around The Fibre Co. and our customers – the Yarn Support Programme is about the designers, their creative process and their customers. It also means we get the opportunity to work with newer designers and support them at the start of their design careers. This part is especially important to me.

I love how each of your call for submissions is centred around a specific theme and selected The Fibre Co. yarn ranges. What’s the idea and inspiration behind the currently open Spring 2018 submission round?

The Spring 2018 submission round is led by our lighter weight yarns. We wanted to encourage designers to think of those knits you reach for as you enjoy the first weeks of Spring in the Northern Hemisphere. Or if, like me, you are based in the Southern Hemisphere the perfect autumn layering pieces as the heat of the summer sun fades away.

We accept both knit and crochet designs and are happy to work with designers all over the world!

 
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Some of the gorgeous bases from the Spring 2018 submission round - Meadow, Road to China Light and Canopy Fingering.

 

Can you share a bit about what you’re looking for in a design proposal? What catches your eye, what are elements you pay attention to?

We love a clear design proposal – a single pdf page is perfect – that shows us the designer has a sense of their own style and direction. This call more about the designer than about The Fibre Co. so we really want to know about them.

A swatch is crucial – we need to see the design in a knitted fabric and a sketch. I know people worry about sketching but it doesn’t have to be a masterpiece – just something that shows us how the design will work is perfect. Lastly – contact details – please always make sure you put your contact details on your one page proposal!

Without asking you to spill all your secrets, can you give us a little glimpse behind the scenes of your design selection and yarn matching process?

We look at all the proposals as a team. We always think about how the designs work with the yarn and want to see that the designer has understood the qualities of the yarn they would like to work with. As this process is designer led we tend to leave the yarn choices up to the designer but we will always offer advice and guidance if we think it will be helpful.

Finally we look at how the designer manages their presence within the knitting community. We love to see designers engaging with their audiences. This does not mean you need thousands of followers but we do want to see that you are working to engage your knitting community.

In addition to working for The Fibre Co., you’re an independent knitwear designer yourself and know the work process inside out from both ends. Do you have any favourite parts in your work with independent designers, project phases you always look forward to or memories you’re particularly fond of?

I always look forward to the day designers press publish – I don’t think that moment ever loses its shine for me. Seeing peoples hard work out their in the world getting the recognition it deserves always fills me to the brim with joy!

Besides future rounds of your Yarn Support for Indie Designers Programme, what other The Fibre Co. projects should we have an eye out for?

We are currently also looking for designers who are interested in working with us for our Autumn / Winter 2018/19 collection. We are currently accepting expressions of interest and all the details can be found here.

 

Key dates and links

Yarn Support Programme – closes at 5pm 16th October 2017: https://www.thefibreco.com/yarn-support-for-indie-designers/

AW 2018/19 Expressions of Interest – closes on 23rd October 2017: https://www.thefibreco.com/call-for-submissions/

Designers from YSP1 can be found in this bundle.

Find out more about The Fibre Co. here.