Friday, July 23, 2010

An Interview with... Mags Kandis

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.

Where do you find inspiration?
I know I echo many when I say… everywhere! Colour is usually my primary creative spark. Seldom does a day go by where I am not taken aback by a fresh way that colours play off of each other.
What is your favourite knitting technique?
Me? I greatly enjoy two extremes… Intarsia and plain, old stocking stitch--- particularly reverse stocking stitch because I love to purl.

Do you look at other designers work or are you afraid that you will be influenced by their designs?
If you are afraid of being “influenced” you better be prepared to live in a hole and never leave it. I can’t see how or why anyone would avoid appreciating the work of others. Personally, I believe almost everything has been done before. To take an idea and make it your own and new and fresh and relevant, that is the thrill! I remember many, many years ago feeling so puffed-up because I had come up with my own original stitch pattern that had never, ever been seen or knit before. It was only a few months later that I found an old, out of print stitch pattern book that had almost the identical stitch pattern. From that moment on I knew that I should never deceive myself into thinking that I am that clever.
How do you feel about the so called controversy of “dumbing down” patterns for
I’m not certain what you mean by “dumbing down”. If you mean simply written and easy to follow… I would say, great! If a knitter-- novice or seasoned-- is able to follow one of my patterns and feel a sense of great accomplishment by completing, wearing and loving the project… I have done my job. Besides, I like creating items that look far more difficult than they really are to make. I often hear from knitters how easy a project was once they got it on the needles.
How many sample/test knitters do you have working for you or do you do it all yourself? I have three that I “trust”! I have been using them for many years… one for over 20. I think a lot of people believe it would be great fun being a test knitter. Let me tell you, it can be quite hard and often frustrating. You not only have to follow what is written as written but be able to figure out when something is very wrong before knitting blissfully along for days only to have to frog it all.
Do you do a formal business plan?
Business plan?!?!? I guess it was/is to earn enough money to pay the bills doing something I love to do. For a long time the “plan” changed daily.
Do you use a Tech Editor?
Heck… ya! It is crucial to have as many “fresh eyes” as possible go over a pattern before it is released. Even a pattern that most would consider “easy” should not avoid the keen eye of a tenacious Tech Editor. When I look back at the patterns that caused the most grief often it was one of the simplest in the collection.
How do you maintain your life/work balance?

When starting up, life was work and work was life. After many years I realized that
“weekends” were a good thing and very valuable for re-fueling and staying creatively happy. I am now fortunate to be able to pick and choose the projects I wish to be involved with and am able to prioritise family, friends and fun.
How do you deal with criticism?

A long time ago I realized that I will never be able to make everybody happy all of the
time. Mind you, I do feel it very important that I open myself up to both positive and negative critiques… as long as it comes from a constructive place. Over the years I have received emails ranging from fanatical raving to comically scathing. I do my best to focus on those that land in the mid-range. I like knowing what I have done well and what I could improve on. I think it is very important in this day and age of countless open knitting forums and blogs and anonymous emails that we all think before we type. After all, this is the kind and soothing craft of knitting we are talking about here. We all have very different personal tastes and have equally different approaches, goals and expectations from the projects we choose. If the project you are working on does not bring you joy you have countless others to choose from. We are fabulously spoiled by the project options we have!
How long did it take for you to be able to support yourself?
It was almost four years of “hitting the floor running” at Mission Falls before I got a
regular pay check.
What advice would you give someone who wants to pursue a career in knitting?

My advice to anyone entering any creative field… Do what brings you joy. Do it well. Work hard. Be flexible.

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