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 Jutta here and here on Ravelry. Her website is in German however she has wonderful photos in her gallery. I did some editing, (with Jutta's permission) to improve the readability of her responses but I have tried to retain the charm of her translations from German to English
Where do you find inspiration?
Whenever people ask me about finding inspiration for my designs, the only answer can be that I'm walking with my eyes open throughout the world, with a notebook in my bag. Perhaps it is a gift being able to translate different things into knitting designs (after having finishing school, I visited a well-known fashion school in Munich, where I learned all the basics of designing). I'm interested in eye catching details that make my designs very special. It's not always an unusual design, it's a very delicate cut or very special texture to knit, the tiny little things.
What is your favourite knitting technique?
First of all, I'm not at all a perfect knitter. I fear perfectionists, handmade creations must not be perfect. If I wanted to have a perfect garment, I would go into a fashion store, it's very simple. I've never taken a special knitting class to become perfect in a particular technique. Coming back to the question, I like every technique that is feasible without taking too much time.
How did you determine your size range?
When working for a yarn company the sample is always knitted in S (36-38). While writing the pattern I think about what sizes I could imagine the garment being made in to be worn. When designing for my own collection, I'm interested in designs that are wearable for many sizes. Last year I started selling my patterns (and yarn) at handmade fairs. I recognized that there are lots of knitting ladies that need bigger sizes. Currently I write patterns up to 3 x if possible (it's a question of the design!).
Do you look at other designers' work or are you afraid that you will be influenced by their designs?
I can' t close my eyes to other designer's work. Why not find inspiration from them? The whole fashion world is inspired by each other. That's not a fault. Trends develop out of this fact.
How many sample/test knitters do you have working for you or do you do it all yourself?
I knit the samples myself, I must, because I'm designing while knitting, mostly. I make a design sketch, however not all the details that I draw look good when executed in the knitted style. My best test knitters are my friends, because they are not perfect knitters and they call me whenever something goes wrong or they do not understand. When I'm working for a yarn company they have their own test knitters.
Did you do a formal business plan?
Not really. I'm not at all efficient. A big fault in this business, because it is hard enough and you should have a plan. But, I'm working on it….!
Do you have a mentor?
Yes, I think I have. It's Mr. Zitron, the owner of Atelier
Zitron. All their yarns are German products, produced on highest Oeko Tex standards. I've been working for this yarn company for many years. Mr. Zitron has allowed me to work as I liked. I was and I am free in designs, colours, whatever. We produced different magazines together. The last photo-shoot for the next publication was just a few weeks ago. I have worked for most of the German yarn companies.
What impact has the Internet had on your business?
It took a very, very long time I before I made my first step into the Internet. Just last year, I decided to establish a website.
Last year I heard of Ravelry! I couldn' t imagine knitters on the Internet. What a big mistake that was. Some weeks ago, I submitted for my first time to a US magazine and it's unbelievable, I'm in! Two days ago I released my first pattern in English on Ravelry. The Internet gives me a new platform to work - no question about. And I would not be here…
Do you use a Tech Editor?
Yes, for working in a foreign language it's a must.
Although I've written hundreds of pattern instructions, it's important that a second person reviews the pattern to catch errors in it. Sometimes you are blind to your errors while writing.
How do you maintain your life/work balance?
Sports, sports, sports, to move is the most important thing in my business. Sitting long days and often long nights, it's a must doing sports: walking early in the morning (4-5 times a week) with two of my best friends, laughing and discussing and chattering- wonderful! I also do step, aerobic, a body work-out (all in a sports club) and a fitness circle in a studio. Too much? Not for me!
How do you deal with criticism?
Who likes to be criticised? Nobody, I think, but I try to
learn from it. If someone doesn't like my design, I could
argue that nothing is as subjective as fashion. If somebody criticizes my work, I think about the criticism and try to make things better.
How long did it take for you to be able to support yourself?
Perhaps never ever, I don't know but I'm working on it. Until now I've been happy that I have a husband who has a really good job and earns enough money. It would be the best thing ever, if I was able to support myself one day. Who knows?
What advice would you give someone who wants to pursue a career in knitting?
I live my dream, I can't imagine ever working in another job!
But, it's a very hard business and it's very hard work. To support yourself you must have many good ideas and be very efficient. Or you must have somebody in the background…