Sicgmone Kludje and Vea Koranteng are the creative partnership behind Black Girl Knit Club (BGKC). Together they have established a safe, inclusive and encouraging space for women to build their confidence and develop skills in craft. Sicgmone heads up the BGKC workshops and helps Vea to launch merchandise such as e-books, prints, postcards and upcycled yarn. Vea oversees visibility, brand partnerships and interacting with members online. Inspired by their incredible achievements, we asked the dynamic duo to explain how they are changing the world of crafts one day at a time…
Kings Art, kings-art.com, @kings_art
Our motivation for starting BGKC (@blackgirlknitclub) came from following the social media hashtag #diversknitty where designers and makers were calling for more diversity within the crafting community in an effort to increase visibility. We as friends wanted to create a safe and inclusive space for Black women and female creatives like ourselves, to gather, share their stories, inspire each other through crafts, and most importantly develop their creativity whilst equipping the next generation with a new skill. BGKC started in January 2019 with our first workshop sold out in February. Since then we’ve built an amazing community of members through monthly newsletters and attendees of our monthly workshops and online tutorials.
We were recently involved in the BBC’s “Oneness” ident project. This was important for us as it proves that visibility is key and to be in the spotlight was great! According to the BBC’s media scheduling lead, these idents were seen by 34 million viewers a week. It was an amazing experience for us to have this kind of representation, especially on one of the leading channels in the UK. We are still ecstatic about it because we’re always getting recognised. We had to record everything on our phones at home and these clips were then edited together by a separate creative team. Thankfully this all worked and we even accidentally ended up colour coordinating our clothes in different shades of pink as a group. It looked so great on screen!
Our wax print yarn is bought as fabric from a supplier who buys directly from West Africa, Ghana, so it’s 100% cotton. The fabric itself is called “Nsubra” and in the Twi language this translates to “waterwell”, a proverb meaning ‘what you do affects others’, hence the water droplets on the print. We hand-make our yarn balls from three yards of fabric that have been cut into strips and it’s such a rewarding process because it’s unique to us and our heritage. We are also giving our customers a chance to create their own narrative with their yarn. It’s so cute seeing people’s creations when they tag us. We need about two weeks to cut up the fabrics hence the pre-order status on our website (blackgirlknitclub.com/shop) but it is available to buy now.
Owning the narrative
As creatives we both love visiting galleries and finding inspiration for our workshops. We recently collaborated with Two Temple Place, hosting workshops in a space that once was not available to us. We ran arm knitting workshops in response to artist Yinka Shonibare’s The Wanderer - a ship that normally sailed with slaves across the Atlantic Ocean; however, the sails were wax print fabric. We promote owning the narrative and knitting using different methods in response to your identity. It was an amazing residency because it allowed us to expand our future in storytelling through craft. We are looking forward to collaborating with more galleries and exhibition spaces.
Kings Art, kings-art.com, @kings_art
A Day In the Life of BGKC
Morning: Planning and preparation is key because running BGKC whilst having full-time jobs requires multi-tasking and strength.
Midday: To stay in the creative mood we listen to our playlist on Spotify, Black Girl Knit Club Sounds. We are also driven by our community and its needs because there is a possibility to change and direct the narrative of Black women in craft.
Evening: Our members usually give us feedback on what they want to see next. BGKC is a community-based enterprise brand, so transparency benefits everyone. A successful day is a day where we have achieved our goals, spent time with our loved ones and taught a new skill.