It was love at first Reel when we discovered Declarative. A love of knitting and comedic approach drew us to learn more about the person behind the show, Kristine Rodriguez. Kristine joined us to spill the tea on IGTV, but we wanted to learn more about her story, what craft and handmade means to her, and see what entrepreneurial wisdom we could gain from this ambitious knitter who doesn't take "no" for an answer.

Tell us about yourself. 

Hi there! I’m Kristine Rodriguez, a cat mama of two and the knitter/all-hats-person behind Declarative.

In an industry that’s always racing toward the next trend of the week, Declarative is here to be slow. Using spools of yarn and my Brother knitting machine, I handcraft each garment out of my cozy Seattle studio, one row at a time. 

Declarative manual knitting custom knitwearKristine handcrafts each garment on her Brother knitting machine.

How did you learn your craft? 

During my final semester of art school, I discovered machine knitting in an elective class. At the time, I was majoring in graphic design even though I knew it wasn’t the right fit. So this was pretty much the game changer I’d been waiting for.

I graduated that spring with that one class under my belt and knitwear as my new direction. I bought a machine of my own, set it up in my bedroom (my first studio) and taught myself the rest from there. 

How does your craft help you? 

Aside from it being something I love to do, machine knitting is very grounding for me. The feel of the yarn, the sound of the machine, the repetition and keeping track of each stitch—it all forces me out of my own head and makes me present. Even when the machine is giving me drama or the work is overwhelming, I know that I just have to take it one row at a time. So long as I do that, I’m going to get through.

That’s probably my big takeaway from machine knitting: to be present, be patient with the process and to keep on going. 

Tell us about how you deal with your ends —the leftovers when you’re done with your work. Do you have any creative ways of dealing with them?

Since Declarative knits are made-to-order, I only keep a small inventory of yarn in my studio at a time. So thankfully, I don’t end up with a lot of extra yarn after a project or order is completed. Whatever is left over though gets stored in my yarn library to eventually be used again. Between passion projects and experimental swatches, I always find use for my ends at one point or another. 

Why do you think craft is important in today’s society?

I think craft has always been important because humans are natural makers. We love creating things. However, in today’s society, we’ve become pretty removed from how the objects around us are produced. I think that’s why craft is especially important now. Not only does it bring “making” back into our lives, but it also helps us appreciate the time and material it takes to create everyday items we might otherwise take for granted. 

Declarative custom knitwear

 Declarative's one-of-a-kind knits are inspiring.

Tell us something interesting about yourself that most people don’t know.

One of my bucket list dreams is to be on the show Survivor. People are usually pretty surprised to learn this about me because let’s be honest, I’m a glamper at best. But I’ve been a superfan since season one, and it’s something that I’ve always wanted to do. Haha I’m manifesting it already. 

How do you feel wearing a handmade garment as opposed to something mass produced? 

It’s like wearing a hug. I can feel the time and care that went into it, especially since I know firsthand how much of both are required. Someone put a lot of energy and focus into it. They took great care to ensure the design and construction were done just right. It’s really wonderful.

Unlike something mass-produced, handmade garments aren’t only about visual appeal. They go a step further into something very human. You can’t help but feel that love. 

How have you managed to combine your love of comedy and film/TV with knitting? 

Although humor and TV have always been a part of Declarative (because I’m always watching some sitcom or true crime doc while I knit), it really leveled up with TikTok and Reels. I’m definitely a bit of a performer. Like, you know that kid who makes everyone gather in the living room for some kind of skit or dance? That was me.

So TikTok/Reels has really allowed me to bring that part of myself to Declarative. I love acting out a scene using audio from my fave TV shows and putting it all into the context of knitter life. It allows me to talk candidly about the truths and struggles of knitting in a funny, unconventional way. 

What is your experience with alpaca? 

It’s too limited. I don’t knit with alpaca nearly enough, but love it every time I do. 

Do you have any final tips for any budding female entrepreneurs or knitters?

Something I wish someone had told me is that you don't have to be someone else to be worthy of your dreams. Everything you are right now—the things you love about yourself and the things you don’t, your past, your strengths and insecurities, all of it. That's the magic you have to bring to your work. That's what will inspire the work that only you can make, which is so incredibly important as a professional creative. 

I’m speaking from experience as someone who has always struggled with anxiety and was very self taught. I felt like the biggest imposter in the world. However, those things I was so ashamed of ended up being some of my biggest strengths the moment I decided to embrace them.

So embrace all that you are and go for it queen! You are the only person who needs to give yourself permission. You don’t have to be something “more” or have all of the answers to be ready. You are enough. Step by step, you’re going to figure it out as you go. So get started and never stop. (And if you’re ever feeling unsure, just DM me and I’ll remind you.)

Embrace your inner maker with a Deadstock Mending Kit or pattern from our Make It Series!

February 26, 2021 — Ellen Saville