The story of The Knotty Ones is like a modern fairy tale: three former college roommates, Akvilė, Danutė, and Sandra, decided they wanted to do something to promote their beloved traditions. The brand, in turn, not only brings Lithuanian cultural heritage into modern form but also delivers a very important social message. In an effort to alleviate the gender financial gap in their country, The Knotty Ones employs knitters who not only create a charming atmosphere, but also an authentic environment around the brand. Tradition, femininity, sustainability—we present one of Lithuania’s favorite knitwear brands. Founder Danutė Rasimaviciute answered our questions.
Your friendship goes back a long time and you’ve experienced many things together. What inspired you to create your brand and start a joint business? How did The Knotty Ones get started?
Starting a business as three best friends was definitely an adventure. We are all of Lithuanian origin, and the idea to create a brand was born one day over brunch. We all were getting frustrated about the fact that in the Baltic region, we have such a deeply rooted knitting tradition, but no one was making any knitted clothes that were modern while honoring those traditions. Crafts were slowly dying out, while the streets were taken over by fast fashion. So, we decided to do something about it ourselves.
In practice, how do you incorporate these traditions into your brand?
All our products are made by artisans. A good chunk of them is stay-at-home moms from the Lithuanian countryside that learned the craft from their grannies when they were kids. So quite literally the craft has been passed down from one generation to another for centuries. Our design process is very collaborative, where our product designers work closely with artisans to make sure we use authentic techniques or Baltic patterns, often relying on their advice.
Your brands are also special because you help boost the local labor market by employing local women for decent wages. How did the community respond to this idea at the beginning?
Another big part of our brand is ensuring that you as a consumer know who made your piece. Each piece is signed by the knitter, so it’s more than just “Made in Lithuania”, but rather “Made by Judita, who has five kids and loves Turkish soap operas.” We often forget that there are real people behind our clothes, with their lives, dreams, and hopes. I think that’s why our customers have supported us and our knitters from the beginning.
You are ethical not only towards your colleagues but also in your use of materials. Can you tell us about that?
From the beginning, we decided to use only natural, 100% biodegradable yarns, always cruelty-free. Using only natural yarns definitely makes the design process more complicated, as we have to adapt our designs to the raw material, rather than the other way around as is often the case in the industry, but we are very happy to take on this challenge. We want to prove that you don’t need to compromise to have great designs and high-quality knitwear. Sure, in theory, it would be nice to add a few percent of elastane to the yarn, but we don’t think it’s worth the extra decades it takes to decompose.
The Knotty Ones is all about personality, which is important to you and your customers. You recently created the “Knitter’s Dream Fund” fundraiser to help your employees achieve their everyday goals. How is this project going?
We’re very proud of the dreams we fulfilled so far, such as helping our knitter Marina get her driver’s license (we paid for her courses, gave her paid leave to complete them, and supported her through several test attempts), or sponsoring our knitter Nijole to consult a dietician to help her manage her diabetes. We are currently working to complete the next “dream batch”, so stay tuned! For many, these dreams may not seem like such a big deal, but for millions of garment workers around the world, they are. We joke a lot about saying that we have a close-knit sisterhood (pun totally intended), and our dream fund is just another example of how we support each other in our community.
No stranger to supporting women’s communities, the brand’s most recent collaboration with Lithuanian supermodel Giedrė Dukauskaitė was the creation of the “Pasaka” (Fairy Tale) collection, inspired by the model’s childhood and Lithuania’s natural treasures. Part of the proceeds of the collaboration will be donated to the non-profit crisis management organization Vilniaus Moterų Namai, which provides great support to women who have been victims of violence.