A thriving business, a daunting Instagram presence with over 600.000 followers, a family of seven, and a whole lot of knitting in between. For Mette Wendelboe Okkels, the inspiring entrepreneur and knitting afficionado behind PetiteKnit, the question is not ‘how do you do it all’. Rather, Mette views knitting and her business as inextricable parts of her identity: a way of life where simple everyday moments serve as inspiration, with creativity flowing freely in all her endeavors.
Since 2016, Mette Wendelboe Okkels of PetiteKnit has designed her own knitting patterns, gradually building a solid fan base around the world. Through her Instagram platform, Mette reaches a core group of handknitters as dedicated to the craft as herself, making her designs available through a clever combination of storytelling and detailed patterns with a signature ‘PetiteKnit’ feel. In the words of Mette herself, though, there isn’t a strategic business plan motivating her behind the scenes:
‘PetiteKnit is more than work to me: I am PetiteKnit. My designs always spring from ideas I get. I knit what I want to wear and what I want my children to wear. It just turned out that others wanted to wear the designs as well and, luckily, this interest continues to grow.’
With a busy schedule juggling work and family, how do you find the time to be creative? What does this creative outlet mean to you?
‘The creative process is not one I can just stop; I am creative at all times of the day. Of course, setting time aside for it is important – this is why my office space is crucial to me – but I can’t decide to be creative within a certain timeframe.
I don’t turn off my creativity when I am at home. Instead, I encourage my children to be creative as well and give them a space for independent play. I am rarely the one who builds pillow forts with my children, but there should always be room for them to make it. Our home is a creative building place for all of us – me with my needles and design, my husband in the kitchen, and our kids a bit all over.
A cliché as it sounds, the inspiration comes to me when I least expect it, but I don’t just wait for it to come. I surround myself with things and people who inspire me. I watch the city and the people around me and get inspired by all the details.
‘Being creative means the world to me, but this is also because I can’t help but be creative. It’s the way I think. Even if I didn’thave PetiteKnit, I am sure I would have found another outlet for my creative ideas.’
Like Aiayu, PetiteKnit’s aesthetic is distinctly Scandinavian, opting for classic silhouettes with delicate, feminine details that make them stand out. The Sille Slipover is an excellent example of this, merging the classic slipover style with an intricate knit and purl structure that adds a tactile and refined finish. For the original Aiayu Sille vest, our focus was on creating a distinct wavy pattern through charming contrasting colors like brown and bright blue. PetiteKnit chose a handknitted pattern, honoring the craft while adding a completely different look and personality to the classic style.
How did you approach the collaboration with Aiayu – what inspired you about the Sille Slipover? Which details were important for you to keep, and what did you want to re-interpret?
‘My designs are often very simple, so I was very inspired by the thought of taking the more conspicuous, multi-colored knitting of Aiayu’s own Sille Slipover and making it simpler by expressing the pattern through the structure of the knitting. It was important for to me to maintain the signature look by keeping the fit and ribbed details.
It was also exciting to work with a piece of machine knit, and the details that are typical of that type of knitting, reworking them for handknitting instead. The shoulder, for instance, called a European shoulder, is a classic shoulder used for machine knitting. I wanted to preserve that detail for the handknitted pattern. It is details like this I love to dive into when I design my patterns.’