Friday, November 6, 2009

An Interview with...Candace Eisner Strick

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

You can find Candace at

Where do you find inspiration?

I usually find inspiration right inside my own head. Although of course the ideas probably do come from something I've seen somewhere. I like to look through the ready-to-wear clothes catalogs, and sometimes I find a little something that I would like to incorporate into one of my designs.

What is your favourite knitting technique?

I don' really have a favorite. When I'm knitting cables I think I could happily knit them for the rest of my life; when I'm knitting Fair Isle I think the same thing, and the list goes on and on. For me to be happy, I have to knit a variety of techniques.

How did you determine your size range?

The garment dictates to me what size range it will be in. I usually knit a small to fit myself, and then decide from there how many other sizes I will offer.

Do you look at other designers work or are you afraid that you will be influenced by their designs?

I do look at other designers, and usually what I see is how THEY have been influenced by someone else. It's much the same in the musical world; Mozart was influenced by Haydn, Brahms by Beethoven, Bernstein by Copeland. It's not that they were purposely trying to imitate anyone; this stuff just happens.

How do you feel about the so called controversy of "dumbing down" patterns for knitters?

I don't think of it as dumbing down. A good pattern writer should be able to write a difficult technique in such a way that it is understandable. I publish my own patterns, so I have carte blanche to take as much paper and ink as I feel is necessary in order to write a pattern that can be understood by everyone.

How many sample/test knitters do you have working for you or do you do it all yourself?

Most of it I do by myself. Once in awhile I use someone to knit a design I've already knit myself, just to make sure everything is worded correctly, or I ask them to knit it in another size.

Did you do a formal business plan?

Do you mean I set out each year to sell x number of patterns? If this is what you mean, no. I do what I am inspired to do. If it works, fine. If it doesn't, then it's back to the drawing board.

Do you have a mentor?


Do you have a business model that you have emulated?


What impact has the Internet had on your business?

I have an Internet site for my retailers to buy my yarn/patterns for their stores. It works great, as I don't have to take phone calls all day. It also allows customers of theirs to go to my website and see what they would like the shop to order for them.

Do you use a Tech Editor?

I don't have any one person I use all the time. Some of my test knitters I could call tech editors.

How do you maintain your life/work balance?

It's very hard. I tend to work 24/7, even when I'm away. In this kind of labor intensive business, if one doesn't work 24/7, very little gets done.

How do you deal with criticism?

Like most people, I don't like ignorant criticism. If it's an intelligent critique, I welcome it. For instance, someone wrote a review of my last book and said something very stupid about the color of the yarn that I used in the sweater on the cover. This is just plain criticism that has no point; it's her own personal opinion. For everyone negative comment she makes about a color, there are probably 100 other people out there who LIKE the color.

How long did it take for you to be able to support yourself?

I really doubt that if it was totally up to me to support myself right now in the lifestyle I am used, I would not be successful. Right now it seems like most of the profit I make goes right back into the business.

What advice would you give someone who wants to pursue a career in knitting?

It's not as easy and romantic as you think. I always talk to people who think I have the most wonderfully romantic job in the world, that I get to travel all over, see so many things, etc. Yes, part of that is true, but they don't see the other side of it, getting up at 4 AM to catch a 6 AM flight across country, dragging my 100 pounds of luggage behind me with a pack on my back weighing 50 pounds. They don't see me "sleeping" in O'Hare airport because of a cancelled flight, then having to teach 6 hours the next morning at 8:30AM. They don't see the missed meals, the noisy hotel rooms, the lost luggage, the sometimes challenging students, etc. They don't see the $10,000+ health insurance premiums I have to pay because I am self-employed, nor do they see the retirement contributions I have to carefully set aside, because no one is giving me a pension when I retire. There are downsides, of course, but the positive parts of it make it all worth while. I will never make money doing it, but success is not determined by how much money one makes. Success is determined by how much you want to get out of bed in the morning and get going with your work. I never dread getting up and going to work!!!Would I trade it for a 9-5 desk job? No way!

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