Native Daughter: Jennifer Berg

The Diné designer brings inspiration from her home and heritage to her handknitting designs and beyond.

Carol J. Sulcoski Jun 12, 2024 - 5 min read

Native Daughter: Jennifer Berg  Primary Image

Designer Jennifer Berg models the Frost Fair Isle Crew, a design created for her collaboration with clothing company Faherty. Photos courtesy of Jennifer Berg

Enjoy this extended article by Carol J. Sulcoski from the premier issue of Farm & Fiber Knits. “Farm & Fiber in Fashion” features a handful of companies and designers with a passion for sustainability and a love of Mother Earth who are bringing the farm-to-fiber movement to the fashion world, and vice versa.

Jennifer Berg didn’t set out to be a knitwear designer. She took up the craft while in college, as a way to counter stress and make gifts for family and friends. As she became immersed in the knitting world, however, she noticed a lack of authentic Native representation and design in the industry. Explains Berg, “I wanted Navajo design to be authentically added into this space so that my people were not seen as a stereotype of ‘native’ but as real people.” At the time, Berg was knitting other designers’ patterns and wanted to add her own truth to her knitting. Her first design, the Eyecatcher Hat, featured a Navajo “eye dazzler” motif often used in saddle blankets and rugs. The hat’s dynamic and striking geometric motifs gained internet buzz, and the pattern was quickly picked up by a national crafting magazine. Soon Berg found herself in demand as a knitting designer, incorporating colors and motifs intrinsic to her Navajo (or Diné) heritage.

Woman in brown and white hat Jennifer Berg’s Eyecatcher Hat features a motif from Diné weaving.

Berg grew up on Navajo tribal lands, near the New Mexico/Arizona border. The Dinétah (or homeland) is surrounded by four mountains held sacred by the Diné people. Berg is grounded by a visceral connection to the land: “Whenever I’m in this space, I always feel like I’m home.” The landscape and colors of the desert are one major inspiration for her work, such as her Tsekoh Cowl pattern, featuring a blue “river” section bordered by yellow canyon “walls.”

Another significant source of inspiration is Navajo rugs. In addition to seeing rugs in her grandmother’s home, Berg’s family owns Chee’s Indian Store. “I would sit in the office as the women (and some men, too) would bring their rugs in to sell. My father would often be the one to make the deal. We have so many rugs in our home because he’d struggle to pass up any rugs that came through the door. Having so many motifs and the stories connected to them is so valuable to me and my connection to the culture,” Berg explains.

Older woman wearing turquoise and younger woman wearing identical yellow and brown knitted hats Jennifer Berg and her grandmother, Clara Chee, wearing Jennifer's design, the Chaco Beanie. The hat was inspired by the landscape of Chaco Canyon and the detailed kiva ruins there.

Berg’s unique incorporation of Native-inspired knitting is reaching a broader audience, thanks to a recent collaboration with Faherty, a lifestyle and apparel brand founded by twin brothers Mike and Alex Faherty. The brand works closely with Native designers as part of its ongoing effort to support Native communities and combat cultural appropriation of Native design. Berg created a special set of designs featuring her fusion of contemporary style and Native inspiration. One popular sweater, the Frost Fair Isle Crew, features a yoke with striking black-and-white motifs; Berg also created cardigan, hat, and scarf designs for the brand. Initially nervous at the reaction to the collaboration—she was concerned that handknitters would view it as “selling out”—Berg found that the community was incredibly supportive of her Faherty work. “They’ve got my back, that’s for sure,” she notes.

Having traveled quite a bit in 2023, Berg is looking forward to a quieter 2024, with plenty of time to relax and design at home. She hopes to publish a pattern book at some point and anticipates releasing a few more designs with Faherty.

Find Jennifer Berg on Instagram @Native.Knitter or her website Her designs can be found on Ravelry, and she’s offering a stranded knitting course on the platform

Carol J. Sulcoski is a knitting author, designer, and teacher. She’s published seven knitting books, including Knitting Ephemera, which is full of knitting facts, history, and trivia. Her articles have appeared in publications such as Vogue Knitting, Modern Daily Knitting, Noro Magazine, the Craft Industry Alliance website, and others. She lives outside Philadelphia and teaches at knitting events, shops, and guilds. Her website is