Perseverance, hard work and
respect for the craft
Today we meet Mette Wendelboe Okkels, the woman behind PetiteKnit, and one of the most popular Danish knitting designers of our time. Mette is known to have published one popular knitting pattern after another, and over the past few years she has been instrumental in revolutionizing the Nordic knitting industry.
We have talked to Mette about knitting, business, family life, and about the path she took to end up where she is today. Here is the story of an ambitious young woman who has great respect for her craft.
Mette is known for publishing patterns of lovely and simple designs, that promptly creates a need in many of us. A need to immediately add that model to the already full wardrobe; because “actually it was exactly that sweater I was missing...” That's what the woman behind PetiteKnit is able to do. Most of us know the story of Mettes “No Frills” Sweater - a very basic raglan sweater, that all knitters started knitting over night, and which is still the best selling pattern at PetiteKnit.
"I design the stuff, that I would like to see in my own wardrobe. I find inspiration on the street, in magazines, on Instagram, etc. I design all my designs from the bottom and I keep on working until my vision is reached. The process can be tough and require a lot of frogging - I am extremely self-critical of my own work. But when it all works out in the end, it is a great feeling, "says the 29-year-old knitting designer, who continues:" My designs are aimed to look like something you could have bought in a clothing store. The biggest compliment I can get, is when people ask me where I bought a sweater, which I designed and knitted myself."
Knit her first sweater at 12 years old
Mette has been knitting, since she was 6 years old, expertly coached by her grandmother and grandmother. She knitted dolls, dolls clothing and teddy bears, and when she was just 12 years of age, she knitted her first sweater and gave it to her grannie as a present.
"It is actually quite random, that knitting has become my way of expressing myself creatively. As a child, I always crocheted, knitted, sew and painted a lot. I sew my own dresses for the school balls and even my own wedding dress. I was a classic creative child. I love the creative process and I love to create. For a long time, I thought I would study design, but now I'm soon to graduate as a doctor... "says Mette, who has still achieved her designer dreams with PetiteKnit.
When work and maternity leave go hand in hand
Mette is currently on maternity leave with the family’s third child, thus taking a break from her medicine studies, which she is three semesters away from finishing. Alongside her maternity, she manages her business, requiring more time and attention than most ordinary full-time jobs.
"I think of every day as a real working day. For example, I do not go to a cafe or knit all day long, which would otherwise be a classic way to spend a maternity leave. Instead, I do all the administration that comes with a business. My two older children are in kindergarten during the daytime, and our little Ellen likes to come with me everywhere"
Simple information - neither too much nor too little
Mette Okkel's science background affects the way she works at PetiteKnit.
"My patterns should be simple and give exactly the amount of information the knitter needs. No more, no less. I try to leave no important process descriptions out – just like you see in very old knitting patterns. I worked a year as a researcher in connection with my medical study, where I wrote scientific articles. The method and approach to communicating often very complicated material, is to some extent the same I use when writing a knitting pattern, "says Mette.
Sometimes I pretend I don’t have any followers
With 100,000 Instagram followers, Mette has a crowd of followers like no other Danish knitting designer.
"It's absolutely amazing that people like what I do - it gives me a drive to deliver the best I can, but it also puts a lot of pressure on me. Of course, I want to create something that people like, but it's also important for me to be true to my own hunch and creative nerve. Sometimes I pretend that my followers don’t exist, so I don’t let myself dictate by the demands and expectations of other people."
Mette's first pattern release within PetiteKnit was “Lillebrors Romper” (translates to Little brother’s bodysuit), worn by numerous babies in Denmark and around the world. Mette’s latest release is the amazing Scotty Sweater, which lends itself to the latest trends of the season due to the large checkered pattern.
At Önling we also love Mette and PetiteKnit, which is why we sell a large number of her patterns in our webshop and have made yarn kits to go with each of them. You can find the whole selection here.
You can see much more of Mette by following her Instagram @petiteknit, where she pampers her followers with knitting delights several times a day.
Written by Signe Kamper Kankelborg (aka @plummum and knitwear content creator at Önling).