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Creative Roots Challenge Week 4 - Tina Tse Knits

Week 4 of the Creative Roots Challenge welcomes Tina of Tina Tse Knits!
You can find this talented lady on Instagram here, and browse her website here.

Tina Say Knits Maker Q&A Blog Post

Week 4 Challenge: Show off your handmade pieces by sharing how you wear them in different outfits while thinking about what you want to add to your wardrobe! More than one post welcomed!

Prize: Tina Tse Knits garment pattern designed (knit or crochet), and the yarn to make it from a BIPOC yarn dyer

How to Enter: Post your challenge photo and tag @tina.say.knits + @knitbrooks, using hashtags #CreativeRootsChallenge + #CreativeRootsWeek4. You have until Monday, September 28th @ 1pm EST!

We all spend so much time and energy making that it’ll be a waste not to wear them and show them off! This will hopefully spark inspiration on what to make next, to encourage slow making, and to help understand what you want/need in your wardrobe of pieces you’ll actually wear versus just making the next trend. I hope it inspires people to create consciously from their existing wardrobe and to better understand their own style through this challenge. I want to see people dive into their pieces, and think about what they might want to add to it.

Tina Say Knits Maker Q&A

Hi, I’m Tina and I’m an American-born Chinese knitting designer. I’m a knit textile designer by trade, currently designing and managing a technical knit team for sporting goods using industrial knitting machines. My background is in the fashion industry, working as a knitwear specialist for designers and companies in NYC and beyond.

For Tina Tse Knits, I’ve been designing hand knitting patterns since 2017 based out of Metro Detroit, Michigan. Over the years, I’ve designed self-published accessories and garments. I’ve also been published in PomPom Quarterly magazine, Woolfolk collection, Nomadic Knits, LITLG magazine and worked with KnitCrate. This year, I was invited to be a Knit Star and will be teaching a workshop on my Home Sweet Home Formula and how to create with freestyle modular knitting. It’s important to me to represent myself in creative spaces as an Asian American and defy stereotypes and eliminate the model minority myth.

Tina Say Knits Q&A

Tina Say Knits Maker Q&A

When you first started your maker journey, what was your goal? How has it changed?
When I first started hand knitting again after college, it was a way to connect with making with my hands. I always prefered to create with my hands rather than on a computer. It was very common for fashion designers to be good at rendering and sketching on a screen but I rather design while playing with fabric and manipulating stitches. I didn’t read a knitting pattern until I was already actively knitting for 3 years and it was the ten stitch blanket. I didn’t read another pattern again until 3 years later for my first test knit ever. I just designed things, no pattern, just sketches, some measurements, yarn and my hands. I made finished goods of knit accessories for a very brief period in 2016. I soon realized it wasn’t for me because it was knitting the same thing over and over and took away the creative aspect of knitting for me. When I first started writing hand knitting patterns in 2017, it was an extension of my knitwear degree from college that I was no longer using in a professional setting. I had a lot of design creativity that I wanted to express still and hand knitting became my canvas. It started as just wanting to contribute to the community I found online through Instagram. I slowly saw that there is potential for a career and business here. My goal now is to one day open a knitwear studio, to start my own line of hand knits and machine knits using my programming for industrial knitting machine skills. I would still create hand knitting patterns to go along with these collections for knitters while drawing in customers who are not knitters but appreciate a good knit product to add to their wardrobe.

What is your favourite inspirational (or creativity-related) quote?
It’s in Chinese and my family had a scroll hung up in our kitchen of these words and when I moved away, the scroll came with me to my new home. It’s “自得其樂”, translates along the lines of, “find your own joy”. To me, it means you can’t find happiness in other people. You have to be happy with yourself, first and foremost.

What is your main creative struggle, and how do you work through it?
My main creative struggle is burn out, as someone who works full-time and along with creating hand knitting patterns on the side. Seeing racial injustices, hate crimes against BIPOC, is emotionally draining, explaining to people of privilege why they are part of the problem and therefore need to be a large part of the solution. It all adds up and leaves very little mental space to create. Rest, refocus my priorities, these are the things that help me move forward. I can’t give my attention where it’s needed if I’m not fully present.

 

Tell us about a total maker FAIL. What did you learn from it, and how did that failure help you grow?
Not sure if I’ve ever had a total fail moment. More an accumulation of similar fails. I’m an unconventional knitter. Since writing knitting patterns, I’ve noticed that I don’t knit like everyone else, hence why I’ve been told I’m an unconventional knitter. Probably because I’ve never had any formal instruction on how to knit. My grandmother taught me in Cantonsese. I didn’t have any of the English abbreviations or terminology for knitting. But, honestly, it’s string and sticks. As a creative person, you can create out of anything! I find the rules restrictive sometimes and limits creativity. What I found, though, is knowing the rules is important in writing a good hand knitting pattern. So I’ve learned to design knitting patterns with the knitter’s experience in mind. Although, on my own, when creating, I knit how I’m comfortable with. Then when I’m writing a pattern, I turn it into the formal knitting instructions. It was definitely a learning curve to go from a creative idea to a written format for others to follow.

What do you feel has been your biggest accomplishment?
Being able to express and be my whole self in this creative journey, to not pretend to be or look like other creatives. Being able to find my voice and continue to grow what my aesthetic and brand is, while being okay that it can change throughout my journey.

What is one goal you’re working towards right now?
How to exist in this creative space as an inclusive designer in as many levels as I am capable of: size inclusive garment designs, financial accessibility to my patterns, accessible website for those with disabilities, and more. It’s important for me to build and be part of a community that is more than just the craft itself but utilizing knitting/making to create an environment that is about thoughtfulness and sustainability, of being human in the process. It’s part of why I started my Pareon page (www.patreon.com/tinasayknits), to share more of the work needed to build inclusive communities.

Name three creative people who inspire you, and why?
@isobelandcleo - their whole vibe is just beautiful and they create knitwear from hand knitting and machine knitting, which is my favorite combination.

@handknitbyxoli - I’ve been following Xoli’s work ever since I started posting knitting on IG. Xoli’s photography with her knits styling is beautiful. She is constantly doing all the things and it’s inspiring to see her smile and her work.

@amagove.mugere - Lorraine’s intarsia knitting cardigans caught my eyes immediately when I came across her work. The details and color combinations are just stunning. 

 

What is your best piece of advice for someone who has lost their creative mojo?
Rest, get inspired by doing something other than your craft, and keep doing your craft even when it’s not perfect, even when it might not become anything, even when it matters to no one else but you.

Tina Say Knits Maker Q&A

Share five fun non-maker-related facts! 
  1. I love folklore and mythology from all cultures and all the fantastical worlds and beings that might or might not have existed in ancient times.
  2. I collect designer toys and art with my husband, @toiihaus.
  3. We have three beautiful cats, Diana, Luna, and Ahri.
  4. Favorite animal: PENGUINS! I got engaged at a penguin habitat in an aquarium!
  5. Favorite place in the world: Brooklyn Bridge Park, Pier 1.

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