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Interview with Frankie Brown: Ravelry Knitting Designer and Fundraiser Extraordinaire

You know some of Frankie Brown’s patterns; now get to know her and the drive behind her knitting pattern designs and fundraising

Note: this article was first published in August 9, 2015. Updates have been made a year later to reflect the current reality; e.g., the number of patterns now in Frankie’s Ravelry store.

Even if you don’t know Frankie Brown, you’re probably very familiar with some of her patterns. She is the creator of the extremely popular Ten Stitch Blanket, Ten Stitch Twist, and Ten Stitch Zigzag, along with the popular Pinwheel Purse, Advent Garland, and Sheep in Sheep’s Clothing patterns.

Believe it or not, these patterns are just a drop in the bucket of her designing output. Frankie has a whopping 332 patterns in her completely free Ravelry store, Frankie’s Knitted Stuff.

Frankie’s patterns and story are notable for a variety of reasons. First, many of her patterns are well suited for charity knitting. In her store you’ll find some wonderful blankets, baby items, and toys. Her patterns are also perfect for the frugal knitter, as many of them are perfect for using leftover scraps of yarn.

Second, you’ll find a wonderful number of whimsical, fun patterns in her store. Just take a peek in her store, and you’ll see what I mean!

Finally, Frankie’s patterns are notable because of what she asks knitters to do. Every one of her patterns includes the following notation: “All my Ravelry patterns are free to download but, if you enjoy them, please consider making a donation to the Children’s Liver Disease Foundation, a charity which funds research and supports the families of children with a liver disease. You can do this easily by going to my fundraising page www.justgiving.com/frankiesknittedstuff

As of this writing, Frankie has raised a whopping £13,664! (That’s the equivalent of over $18,350.) I was fascinated by Frankie, her patterns, and her fundraising, and so I asked her for an interview. Frankie was very gracious in answering my questions. I suspect you’ll all find Frankie as charming as I did!

Interview with Frankie Brown

Knitting for Charity: What was the first pattern you wrote? Is it one that you currently have in your Ravelry store, or is it something different?

Frankie Brown: I think that would have been my pattern for knitted ammonites. It was published in the Knitting and Crochet Guild’s magazine “SlipKnot,” in an issue with a sea theme. Looking back, it’s typical of many of the designs that followed it, which tend to be esoteric rather than practical. I’ve never turned it into a Ravelry pattern, maybe I’ll do that one day.

Photo: Frankie Brown

KFC: When and how did you get the idea to tie your free knitting patterns into fundraising?

FB: I was inspired by my mother, who died in the year I started publishing designs on Ravelry. She had always made things – quilts, dolls, clothes – and she often sold them to raise money for various charities. I get a lot of satisfaction out of seeing my fundraising total grow; it gives an added dimension to my work that I really appreciate.

KFC: What made you choose the Children’s Liver Disease Foundation as the organization to support through fundraising?

FB: I chose the Children’s Liver Disease Foundation as my friend’s son was born with biliary atresia, one of the many liver diseases which affect children. He has been lucky so far, he had a life-saving operation as a baby and is now seventeen. Liver disease is not something that can be cured, though, and families affected by it never know when their child’s liver will fail. A liver transplant is then the only hope.

CLDF is a small charity; they combine raising research funds with supporting not only the child with a liver disease but their whole family, including after the death of a child. By fundraising for them, I hope to raise awareness about their work as well as helping them financially.

KFC: Where do you get ideas for patterns?

FB: That’s a big question! I love geometric patterns and have designed various blankets based on traditional quilt designs. Origami is another good source of inspiration; my “Pinwheel Purse” is a knitted version of a traditional fold. Sometimes I just want to play with lots of colours, and then I often turn to crochet.

Mostly though, I just think of something I’d like to have and then work out how to make it. [For instance,] I wanted a warm rug for a cold floor, so [I worked] on a knitted rug design.

KFC: What made you decide to start the Frankie’s Knitted Stuff group on Ravelry?

FB: This was suggested to me by a fellow designer Pat (Woolhelmina on Ravelry) who helps me moderate the group and sorts me out when I don’t know how to do something technical! It’s proved to be a great place for sharing tips and showing off what we’ve made. It’s particularly fun in December each year when the members are working on my Christmas series of patterns, there’s always a bit of a competition to be the first to finish each pattern as it’s published.

KFC: Do you do any other kind of charity work? Knitting for charity, for instance? (We’re called Knitting for Charity… I have to ask!)

FB: No, I’m afraid not. My designing is a full-time job, and I can raise more money for charity through my patterns than I could by knitting things for charity myself. Knitters do often knit things from my patterns to raise money for other charities, and I’m pleased to be able to support more charities in this way, albeit indirectly.

Again, a hundred thanks to Frankie for her interview. If you’re familiar with the Ten-Stitch Blanket or one of her other patterns, I encourage you to 1) check out the other patterns available through Frankie’s Knitted Stuff, and 2) donate to her fundraising page. It’s a great way to make a difference while having fun knitting her incredible patterns!

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