Mikono is the Swahili word for "hands". The name of the company - Mikono Knits - therefore means handmade knitwear.


Mikono Knits was started by Frøydis Dybdahl Archer in December 2005 as an initiative to help Kenyan women earn an income from a skill that is commonly learned in childhood but seldom used commercially - knitting.


The company started off with 6 regular handknitters and two machine knitters. In March 2012, ten new knitting machines were donated from Norway and six of the hand-knitters were trained in machine knitting to increase our capacity. At the same time, as orders have increased steadily, an increasing number of handknitters are contracted on seasonal basis. As of 2013 we have 5 experienced machine knitters, and about 20 seasonal hand workers. 


The business seeks to combine commercial objectives with a commitment to bettering the welfare of its knitters as well as protecting the environment.


In October 2013 Mikono Knits became a member of Ethical Fashion Forum,and was awarded a "Fellowship 500 membership", uniting 500 pioneers and innovators in fashion and sustainability.



Mikono Knits creates opportunities for economically disadvantaged producers to earn a fair income. A price for the labor input for each item is negotiated and agreed with the women before they start, and is paid to them as soon as the finished product has gone through a quality check.


The hand-knitting is done mostly from their homes. This enables the knitters to work at their own pace, and means they can combine knitting with other responsibilities. Working conditions in the machine-knitting workshop are safe, dignified and healthy. Knitting is a skill that is already long established in Kenya, thus Mikono Knits is based on traditional skills. Mikono Knits promotes the use of appropriate technology and revives & develops traditional skills.


Mikono Knits ensures that materials used in production and packing damage the environment as little as possible, by using natural fibers only. Mikono Knits products are all made out of 100% biodegradable, hand-spun wool or cotton. Certified organic cotton is used when available. As much as possible, Mikono Knits sells directly to the customer, and buys materials that are locally sourced without recourse to middlemen. By sourcing all materials locally, income opportunities are created for local suppliers of wool and cotton such as farmers and spinners.


All Mikono Knits products are traceable to the person that handcrafted the product, and a short biography is provided on the web site.