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 Jodie here.
Where do you find inspiration?
I never know what will lead to an innovative idea. Sometimes it’s an unusual stitch that I want to apply (Barbara Walker’s Treasury of Knitting Pattern series is a phenomenal resource!!). Sometimes it’s a pattern in nature or architecture. Sometimes I’ll see something in a movie that I want to re-tell. Sometimes it’s taking something I’ve learned in another designer’s pattern and applying it in a new way.
I will say this, though. I can’t go looking for inspiration. It finds me. When it does, I drop what I’m doing and go it. Sometimes it’s wonderful, sometimes it’s garbage. For me, inspiration does not wait for a convenient moment. I can’t sit down and say “today I’m going to design something”.
What is your favourite knitting technique?
My favorite technique is whatever has currently captured my curiosity. I love to learn and am mostly self-taught. I’ll try pretty much everything and work at it until I’ve mastered it. I can look back through my work and see the felting stage, the fair isle stage, the lace stage…and so forth. And, the things that interest me ultimately find their way into my designing tool box.
How did you determine your size range?
When making a garment I refer to the size guidelines provided by Knitty.com. For socks I like to provide a pattern that will work for pretty much any size foot there is. Basically, I want to create a pattern that will work for anyone I would want to knit for---and that ranges from children to men whose feet are scary big.
Do you look at other designers’ work or are you afraid that you will be influenced by their designs?
Yes, I look at other designers’ work. Not because I’m attempting to duplicate their work but because I admire their creations and want to make them for myself. When I see an elegant technique I appreciate it so much more now that I know how difficult it is to not only to develop a truly innovative technique but to then communicate it effectively. I have sent more than one congratulatory note for a job well done.
Beyond admiring the work of others, I love learning from other designers. I think I would stagnate if I didn’t take vacations from my designs and knit something where I can just turn off my brain and follow a pattern!
That being said I’m obsessive about crediting sources of inspiration and extremely careful only to publish work which is truly original.
How do you feel about the so called controversy of “dumbing down” patterns for knitters?
I’m unaware of the controversy. However, I doubt anyone would find my work dumbed down. I love a challenge and many of my designs reflect that.
How many sample/test knitters do you have working for you or do you do it all yourself?
Recently, I’m pretty much it. I usually make my designs at least twice before I publish a pattern, though. The first pass is to design it. The second pass is to double check everything.
What impact has the Internet had on your business?
I wouldn’t have a business without the Internet. My patterns are only available from my website, through Ravelry and at Knitty.com.
Do you use a Tech Editor?
When my work is self-published, no. However when my patterns have been published at Knitty.com I have worked with Kate Atherley. She is a fabulous editor and has significantly improved every design we’ve worked on together.
How do you maintain your life/work balance?
I am disabled by POTS—a circulatory disorder which requires me to rest most of every day. Knitting, and later designing, allowed me to cope with the huge blocks of time that were force upon me when I got sick. At the end of the day I was able to point to my work and say “My day wasn’t a waste—look what I accomplished”. The more complicated things I was able to create/design the more I felt like the old me.
As for my life—I left my career 17 years ago to raise and then later home school my 2 sons. They are older now—and teaching them requires me to be available intermittently throughout the day. Working on designs while they work on their lessons is fairly easy to balance. When I’m working on a particularly tricky design they get more independent study but in the long run things balance nicely.
How do you deal with criticism?
Privately. There is no question that it’s frustrating to see your work criticized—particularly when you’ve provided the designs for free. But, I don’t do this for the praise or for money—I do it because I love it. I do it because I can’t NOT do it. I listen to constructive criticism, try to learn from it and just do my best to provide accurate designs.
But, there are always going to be people who don’t like my work—who are never going to be happy—who will make critical remarks without realizing I will read them. It’s a fact. If I ever come to the point where I can longer live with that fact I will stop putting my work out there.
How long did it take for you to be able to support yourself?
Bwaaaahahahahahahahha. I have yet to have honorarium or download fees pay for all the yarn used in creating a design. Support myself? I’ll be thrilled if one day I break even on expenses. Again—I’m doing this because I love it.
What advice would you give someone who wants to pursue a career in knitting?
Buy lottery tickets instead?
However, I would advise someone who designed as a hobby to enjoy themselves and make what they like. That love of the craft shines through. If it ultimately translates to a nice income—good for you! But, don’t expect to live off of it.