Friday, November 29, 2013

An Interview with... Justyna Lorkowska

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 Justyna here and here on Ravelry.

Where do you find inspiration?
I know it might sound cliché, but everywhere. Sometimes I come across a beautiful stitch pattern that stays in my mind for a long time waiting to become a garment. Sometimes it's the yarn, its color, drape - it might sit there in my stash for a year and then bam I have some knitting epiphany and I make a sweater from it in a week. Finally, and I know it will not sound very magical, I'm actually forced to create because I need a particular knit in my own closet. Most of my designs came to life because one of my kids needed a hat or a jumper or because I couldn't find anything I liked in the stores.

What is your favourite knitting technique?
At the moment I'm fascinated by short rows. This technique never ceases to amaze me. It's just wonderful that short rows allow you to shape your garment to accommodate for almost every knitter's figure. Additionally, when you start playing with them you can create really amazing shapes of knitwear. 
Do you look at other designers' work or are you afraid that you will be influenced by their designs?
I enjoy looking at other designers' work very much. I just love seeing how they use different colors, yarns, stitch patterns; it's truly inspirational.

How do you feel about the so called controversy of "dumbing down" patterns for knitters?
Knitting patterns I used to know before being introduced to Ravelry were a lot different. Polish knitters can improvise and are very independent, very often they don't need instructions telling you how to make every single stitch (they can even make the whole garment out of memory!), so I must say I was surprised at how detailed English patterns can be. Such patterns are very good for beginners who want or need some hand holding, but at the same time these instructions can make more experienced knitters a little lazy. This is why I like making new designs - there's no template, no stitch counts, just me, yarn and my imagination.

The Vampyre

How many sample/test knitters do you have working for you or do you do it all yourself?
At the moment I have a group of fantastic test knitters whose help is invaluable to me. Most of them have been with me since the beginning of my designing career, but I also love working with newbies as they bring a lot of fresh insight. Their number varies depending on the design. For example, when I make accessories I do not need so many testers.

Do you have a mentor?
Many people I've met since the day I put knitting needles in my hands have had a huge influence on my creations. First it was my mom who taught me the first knits and purls, then it was the whole knitting community: knitters, designers, my knitting friends - they show me if I'm doing the right thing.
What impact has the Internet had on your business?
Enormous. Firstly, because I learned a lot about new knitting techniques from the Internet. Knitting in Poland, the country where I live, is still connected with the stereotype of an old lady knitting socks from some thick coarse wool. Unfortunately, the Polish knitting industry is not very well developed and most knitters turn to the Internet for knowledge about new styles, techniques or even to buy yarn. At the moment my business exists thanks to the Internet but I hope that one day knitting in Poland will become as popular as in the UK or the US, with numerous workshops and festivals.

Do you use a tech editor?
I admit that when I started writing my patterns everything was more like child's play, but it has changed since that time. Now I'm trying hard to make my patterns as comprehensive as possible with a team of test knitters and recently a tech editor.

Casual Lace

How do you maintain your life/work balance?
Oh, that's a hard question because I'm pretty bad at it. We have two small children so I work whenever they allow me to :-). Thankfully my husband helps me a lot, not only with the kids, but also with my work. He's the one who first discusses an idea for a design with me, chooses yarn, and then when the garment is ready he patiently takes a lot of photos. We also manage Lete's Knits website together. And when we finish our work we try to spend some quality time with our children - though I confess to having a small WIP bag with me all the time (because you never know when there's time to make one more stitch, right? :-)

How do you deal with criticism?
I believe that good and constructive criticism is needed if you wish to improve your skills. If you wish to be better and write better patterns you need to listen to others' feedback even if it's not something you'd like to hear.

What advice would you give someone who wants to pursue a career in knitting?
You know what they say? Where there's a will, there's a way. Knit and learn, listen to other knitters, find your own style and make it happen!



  1. Justy just became my new knitting idol. I haven’t done any designing on paper. I think I will start today! Thank you!