Friday, January 4, 2013

An Interview with....Lily Chin

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

You can find Lily here and here on Ravelry.

Where do you find inspiration?
It's everywhere. Not only visual material like fabrics and architecture, but theories and principles. I actually do a slide show presentation since *everyone* asks me this question over and over again, I did this most recently at the Vogue Knitting Live Chicago show as a 1 hour lecture during lunch.  I show where the idea comes from, then the resulting design.

What is your favourite knitting technique?

HA, who's your favorite child?  It's whatever I happen to be working on, usually.  I will say, Intarsia is one of my *least* favorite techniques .

How did you determine your size range?

Since I travel excessively, both across the US as well as abroad, I know my "customer" well and I KNOW what real people look like.  Thus, as early as 1995, I started doing expansive sizing and I'm pretty sure I was one of the first.  In Knitter's magazine, I once did a 12-size pattern up to a 68" bust.

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

Kinda both.  I try to keep a pulse on what's going on, yet I try to shield my eyes so that it doesn't seep into my subconsciousness.  Tricky, I know.

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

We have to appeal to a broad range of knitters and there's plenty of room for everyone.  I do "mass" patterns for newer or more casual crafters, but there are plenty of designs that I do for the more advanced and technical person.  We can have it all and one group should not begrudge another.
How many sample/test knitters do you have working for you or do you do it all yourself?

It is physically impossible for me to do 8 sweaters in a month.  I have about a dozen people helping me out, more if you count crocheters as well.

Did you do a formal business plan?

No, just an informal one.

Do you have a mentor?

I've had a machine knitting mentor but not a hand knitting one nor a crochet one.  I've had general craft mentors, other artisans in other media such as weaving or quilting or embroidery.

Do you have a business model that you have emulated?

No, when I started back in the paleolithic age, there were not that many full-time knitters doing it for a living.  As a matter of fact, back then (early 80's), designers very often never even got credited on the printed page.

What impact has the Internet had on your business?

Communications has been made really instantaneous.  I don't rely on snail mail anymore.  Conveying my ideas has vastly improved.  Of course, pr and marketing is much easier.

Do you use a tech editor?

Yes, all the time.  I can't live without tech editors.  They are my friend.

How do you maintain your life/work balance?

I don't.  I don't have a life.  When I'm not knitting for work, I'm knitting for pleasure.  When I'm not traveling for work, I'm traveling for pleasure.  When I'm not on the computer for work, I'm on the computer for pleasure.  What 's wrong with this picture ???

How do you deal with criticism?

Criticism?  WHAT criticism? Kidding.  I just ignore it .  AH hahaha.  Seriously, if it's made constructively, I consider it and try to rework and do something about it.  If it's unfounded or just mean-spirited, well - put it this way.  I've knit myself a very thick skin.  My favorite quote comes from Major League Baseball's Reggie Jackson:  "they never boo a no-body."

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

About 6 years.  I was able to start supporting myself in 1988.

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

Don't quit the day-job just yet.  It's tough.

ETA: Interweave just sent me a link to coupon codes for their store you can find the coupons here.

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