Friday, March 9, 2012

An Interview with...Grace Akhrem

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 Grace here and here on Ravelry. All the patterns shown are available on her site or on Ravelry.

Where do you find inspiration?
I find my inspiration in color.  I love mostly all colors.  I usually start to swatch first and play with stitches before I know what anything will be.  Sometimes the texture of the yarn will speak to me as well.  

What is your favorite knitting technique?
Short-rows, by far. But I do love lace too..... combining the two is even better - like my newest pattern Olga's Vest!

How did you determine your size range?
I usually make one size first (medium... it's a good place to start) and see how flexible the garment is.  For example, my Janna's Tunic I sized it from S-XL.  I made the XL to fit me.... turns out the S size fit me too, so I decided that this garment is very stretchy and I didn't really need to size it any larger than XL. 

Do you look at other designers' work or are you afraid that you will be influenced by their designs?
I absolutely look at other designers work.  I think one's design is a reflection of the way their mind works and it's nice to see how other people think about and view knitting designs and construction.  For example two of my favorite designer's are Olga Buraya-Kefelian and Julie Weisenberger for their great eye and construction.  But I have never fear being influenced by other designers work, I would say that sometimes I am inspired. 

How do you feel about the so called controversy of "dumbing down" patterns for knitters?
I don't see anything wrong with that.  It doesn't take that much extra time for a designer to explain a couple of techniques to broaden their market.  Beginner knitters are already limited when it comes to patterns, why not expand their choices and increase their skill level?! 

How many sample/test knitters do you have working for you or do you do it all yourself?
I do most of the sample knitting myself and some of the test knitting as well.  Right now I only have about two sample knitters working for me and about 3-4 test knitters. 

Did you do a formal business plan?
Not at all. 

Do you have a mentor?
This position has not yet been filled - but I am taking applications.  Ha ha!  I just kind of fell into all of this, no mentor yet, but it would be nice. 

Do you have a business model that you have emulated?
No. I just do what makes sense. 

What impact has the Internet had on your business?
I would say that it has increased my pattern sales of course, but for me it's all about the LYS.  I would say that a lot more LYS carry my patterns in hard copy after seeing them on Ravelry.  

Do you use a Tech Editor? 
I do all the tech editing my self.  Sometimes I do miss things (like little typos) here and there, but for the most part I do catch everything.  I have been thinking about using a tech editor for a while (to lighten my workload), but I haven't found the right one yet.   

How do you maintain your life/work balance?
That is a very good question.  What most people don't know is that I have a full-time job on top of the designing career.  It is very difficult to juggle the two.  My personal life suffers for this great cause.  After a full day at work I come home and work on my patterns for about 6-7 hours and on weekends as well.  I leave a little time here and there for grocery shopping, and things like that, but for the most part (at this point in my life) work is a priority. 

How do you deal with criticism?
I take it for what it is.  If someone has an opinion about my work I want to hear it, good or bad.  Just like I have an opinion (and I always do) I would want mine o be heard.  Constructive criticism is always the best, it shows there is room to improve. 

How long did it take for you to be able to support yourself?
I'm still not quite there yet... unfortunately.  I live in LA - it's quite an expensive city.  I hope one day (soon) I am able to support myself.  

What advice would you give someone who wants to pursue a career in knitting?
Do what you love and success will follow shortly.

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