Friday, November 17, 2017

An Interview with...Aistė Butkevičienė

https://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/arctic-5



Once a week I post interviews with interesting people about their insights on their experience of working in the Knitting industry. I’ve noticed that every one of these individuals makes their living in a slightly different manner bringing their own unique presence to the knitting world.

You can find Aistė here on Ravelry and on Instagram here: https://www.instagram.com/aisteb1973/

 


https://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/blue-blues

Where do you find inspiration?
The first source of my inspiration is my hands. I let them do what they want, making crazy swatches, inventing new techniques, drawing sketches. The next source is my eyes. I watch fashion shows, street-wear, apparel shops. Then I let myself soak in trends, lines, shapes and colours. After that I mix everything and the design pops into my mind. I just need  to knit it quickly before the inspiration fades away.

What is your favourite knitting technique?
Maybe it‘s not a technique in the way we normally understand it. It is a combination of techniques which I use to make garments that fit real women's bodies. My design process is split into two parts. The first is to design the garment as I see it. Yarn, stitch pattern, color, silhouette and the finishing techniques. The next part is to make pattern drafts which are taken from tailoring. I add different styles of bust darts, I make the back longer and I lift the back neck, I use a wider front, different shoulder slopes, unsymmetrical armholes and sleeve caps. My knitters are not only knitters, but they have the skills of a tailor at the same time. And of course, all detailed instructions are included in every pattern. The goal is to connect design and the best fit possible into one piece. And that is my favourite technique.


New design coming Jan 2018


Do you look at other designers’ work or are you afraid that you will be influenced by their designs?
Sometimes I look and I have my beloved designers. But I hope I do have my own style and I‘m not afraid to be influenced. As I mentioned already, I‘m keen on the tailoring side of knitting and that is completely different.

How many sample/test knitters do you have working for you or do you do it all yourself?
I have a lot. I need about 20-30 knitters to test one sample. I do 7 sizes, so I need 2-3 knitters to test one size. I've done around 15 or 16 testings already, so maybe one hundred in total... My test knitters (I call them Early Birds) are the best in the world. I made a look-book of my last collection, and the last pages of it show how talented and beautiful they are. You can see it here:
https://issuu.com/aisteb1973/docs/merino_hug_winter_solstice

Did you do a formal business plan?
No, I didn't. I just have a schedule of the steps which I need to do and try to follow them. 


New design coming Jan 2018


Do you have a mentor?
I have a forum thread where I've been teaching knitting for  three years. Many talented knitters participate there and we share our experiences. Some of them have taught me a lot. But I do not have a formal mentor. When I was a kid, I had a grandmother. She was a passionate knitter and she instilled me with a passion for knitting.

Do you use a tech editor?
No, I do not. My methods of making patterns is very different and no tech editor would be able to calculate them correctly.

How do you maintain your life/work balance?
Knitting and designing is my full time hobby. I have a business, but now my husband takes care of 90% of it, so I am almost free to do what I love. 


https://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/cherrish

How do you deal with criticism?
Criticism sometimes hurts, but it also sometimes works as eye opener. The biggest transformations in my knitting
life happened thanks to constructive criticism.

How long did it take for you to be able to support yourself?
I‘m not supporting myself yet. I think I need more time and more effort. However looking at it from a different angle I find doing what you love is more valuable.

What advice would you give someone who wants to pursue a career in knitting?
If you eat, breathe and sleep knitting, you should try. If knitting is your best friend, if you dream sweaters at night, if you prefer knitting to a party, camping or a trip, you should try. And I recommend that you need to have at least few decades of knitting experience.

What’s next for you?
I published my first collection, Merino Hug. Winter Solstice recently. It consists of 8 patterns, all using merino yarn. All the designs fit a woman's curves and use tailoring patterns. Now I‘m working on my Spring collection, drawing sketches of the upcoming Summer collection and thinking of Fall. That is my plan for the next two years. 



New design coming Jan 2018



Aistė also wanted to share her free lace stitch pattern collection, with the readers of her interview, you can find it here:
https://issuu.com/aisteb1973/docs/lace_undiscovered_eng


https://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/white-wins

Friday, November 10, 2017

An Interview with...Linda Courtney

https://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/jo-jos-vest


Once a week I post interviews with interesting people about their insights on their experience of working in the Knitting industry. I’ve noticed that every one of these individuals makes their living in a slightly different manner bringing their own unique presence to the knitting world.

You can find
Linda here and here on Ravelry.

Where do you find inspiration? 
I feel incredibly lucky to live in gorgeous Down East Maine. Quite a few of my designs have been directly inspired by my surroundings: Sea Smoke Scarf (and Hat), and Tidal Cove Scarf for example. I'm also inspired by necessity. Jo-Jo's Vest was a special birthday gift for, of course, Jo-Jo! The need for a gift tailored to a friend of mine who loved to knit socks inspired Sock Lover's Socks. I didn't think it would appeal to many other knitters, but it became one of my best selling patterns!

What is your favourite knitting technique?
I'm not sure I have just one favorite. I actually love garter stitch and especially the kind of architecture you can build with it when used modularly. I've used modular garter stitch on several hat patterns like Garter Geometry Hat. One technique I don't work with a lot is lace; for some reason it doesn't interest me as much as shape and texture do.
 
https://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/tidal-cove-scarf

Do you look at other designers’ work or are you afraid that you will be influenced by their designs?
I try to keep up with what other designers are doing through the Designers' Forum on Ravelry. I don't worry about it in terms of thinking I would copy their work. I have my own voice as a designer and it serves me well.

How many sample/test knitters do you have working for you or do you do it all yourself?
I do the sample knitting by myself as I haven't gotten to the point where I am comfortable enough in my first draft working directions to just hand them over to someone. They usually go through many versions as I knit the sample and realize ways to improve the design, or come across parts that have unexpected issues. Once I have the sample knit, the pattern fully written, and it has been professionally tech edited, then I use test knitters to make sure each size has been knit up before the pattern is released. It is a long process, but the pay back is in how few support questions I receive. The kinks have all been worked out by the time it is out there for purchase.

Did you do a formal business plan?
If you mean something that you could take to the bank, then no. I do have a very loose plan in my head about where I want to take my business. But unexpected life events happen and I am not yet where I had planned to be. I have to keep readjusting the plan in my head.
 
No. I wish I did. I have felt like I am reinventing the wheel a lot of times - trying to figure out how to do things like grading, graphic design, marketing. Over time I have found the designers' forum on Ravelry to be a wealth of information and a good source of sharing helpful resources on all those things.

Do you have a business model that you have emulated?
Again, no. I designed my own model I guess.
 
Absolutely! I would never put out a pattern for sale that was not professionally tech edited. I have one free pattern on Ravelry that is not tech edited, but all my other (for sale) patterns are. Yes, it is expensive, but I feel it is extremely important. I want to build a reputation so knitters can count on any pattern from Knitwise Design being clear and error-free. I have used several different tech editors over time and always had good experiences with them.

How do you maintain your life/work balance? 
Oh gosh, THIS. I have always struggled with this in various ways. I find working from home to be a challenge since there are so many other claims on my time and people tend to not understand that you actually have a job when you work for yourself at home. I no longer have young children at home - they are all grown and lovely young adults. I could not have done this when they were young and admire the very organized designers who can work during nap times! I took care of my mother with Alzheimer's disease for a year in my home and it completely stalled my business. Mom is now nearby in a home, but I still find myself needing to work hard to carve out focused work time for my business. We live in a wonderful spot for vacation visits and hosting family and friends is certainly something I give high priority to, but balancing that with trying to make some time for working during visits is challenging! 
 
I actually haven't had any to deal with in terms of my business. Personally is another matter!

How long did it take for you to be able to support yourself?
To be honest, I could never support myself on my designing alone. Realistically, it is not even one of my goals for the business. I have a set goal for the amount I hope to have the business contribute to our income. I still have a ways to go to meet that goal!

What advice would you give someone who wants to pursue a career in knitting?
Get as much education about the field as possible! I envy those countries where you can actually choose knitting design as a course of study. I would also say that completely beyond the skills and knowledge of knitting and design you need just as much study about things like computer software programs, photography, graphic design, running a business, websites, newsletters, writing, and especially marketing. Most of my time working on my business is spent on things other than sitting down with yarn and needles.
 
I just published a sweater pattern - Camp Cardigan- in seven sizes! I would like to be able to release a big project like that again next year, and am in the fun design experimenting stage with that. I have some accessory designs in the pipeline also that I am really excited about. I ran my first KAL this year in my Ravelry group, and definitely plan to do that again. I am also experimenting with more professional photography for my designs and hope to even go back and have the photography on some of my earlier designs re-done. A big focus for me at this point is to try to get my work out there and seen by more knitters. I have recently started a newsletter - News and Notes from Knitwise Design - and I am still on the learning curve for working with that. I also plan to increase my teaching. I am a former high school science teacher and really enjoy teaching, so teaching knitting classes makes a lot of sense as another focus for my business. At some point I also want to re-do my website: knitwisedesign.com . Lots of work, but lots of fun as well!

https://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/creek-bottom-cardigan


Friday, November 3, 2017

An Interview with...Monie Ebner

https://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/wolfgangsee


Once a week I post interviews with interesting people about their insights on their experience of working in the Knitting industry. I’ve noticed that every one of these individuals makes their living in a slightly different manner bringing their own unique presence to the knitting world.

You can find
Monie here on Ravelry.


https://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/wolfgangsee


Where do you find inspiration?
Thinking about your question I just realized that most of my ideas come while knitting! The first time I can remember was my “Wolfgangsee” for which the idea came to me while knitting the “Schafberg”. So my hands do their job and my head is already on the next project. It may also be that seeing a yarn skein immediately an idea appears … and then it is swatching time…

What is your favourite knitting technique?
I’m a huge fan of top down knitting for garments and its advantages. And for my shawl designs I like to use slip stitches. They often bring a special touch in the simplest pattern.


Do you look at other designers’ work or are you afraid that you will be influenced by their designs?
Of course, I do. No one can go through the social media world without being influenced. Before I start swatching for a new design idea I check if there is already something similar or even the same.  


How many sample/test knitters do you have working for you or do you do it all yourself?
I knit the sample myself and have about 20 testers, sometimes even more. For me, a test knit is not only to check a pattern for errors. My pattern is the “guideline” and it is always interesting to see what my testers create of it, which colours they choose and sometimes what mods they include.


Did you do a formal business plan?
To my shame, no … as much as I need tidiness in my workplace, this (important) part has been neglected until now.


Do you have a mentor?
Not in that sense, but I have lovely people around me who give me the feedback and the support I sometimes need.


https://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/ischl


Do you use a tech editor?
No. I have a dear friend who has a first glance on a new pattern and amazing test knitters who often have eagle eyes (especially for my strange maths ;).


How do you maintain your life/work balance?
My knitting/designing should be the main part of my daily life and I try to manage anything else around it … but often it is quite the other way round. That’s one of my goals … to handle it better.


How do you deal with criticism?
Criticism isn’t a bad thing. In case it is constructive, it can be very helpful to get feedback about my patterns and how they are interpreted. 


https://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/mondsee


What advice would you give someone who wants to pursue a career in knitting?
If you are burning for your ideas, then give it a try.


What’s next for you?
My next project is my Advent MKAL in December that will take place for the third time in my Ravelry group. This event is a wonderful way to finish off this year and I’m really looking forward to it (and I know many others as well :). For the coming months I have many ideas, not only for knit designs, but that’s still in the planning stage.