Friday, July 25, 2014

An Interview with...Rililie

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 Rililie here and here on Ravelry. 

Pattern coming soon!

Where do you find inspiration?
Often in the most random places: One funny inspiration-source was for my latest design, which features a fold at the back, similar to the ones on men’s shirts. I was standing in a long line at the fiscal office and was bored to death when I noticed the fold on the shirt of the person in front of me (I couldn’t miss it, since in was directly in my face) and started contemplating how this would look in knitting and that it would be a neat solution to do many increases at once. When I got home I started experimenting and then used the same method also at the bottom for a different kind of hem increase. I am so pleased with this inspiration, that I am thinking of implementing it in more designs (but I can do without standing in long queues though).

What is your favourite knitting technique?
Oh… this is constantly changing! I love experimenting and can swatch for hours to find a solution that works for what I want to produce at the moment. The finding of the day is also my favourite technique - until the next day! 

How did you determine your size range?
I did not design for larger sizes at the beginning but soon many people wrote to me to ask if I could integrate larger sizes and although I have to admit that it doubles the work - since the largest sizes do need a very different approach to get to similar results as the smaller ones - I am very happy that I can offer larger sizes today. 

Do you look at other designers’ work or are you afraid that you will be influenced by their designs?
I find that influence is inevitable. We are living in a specific time/area/interest group and are going to see, hear and contemplate the same things… So even if one has never seen the other’s work, it could be possible that two people produce a similar subject, just because it happened that they had the same idea, which was influenced by similar factors. But to answer your question, I am never afraid of getting inspired by other designers. On the contrary, I find it gives creativity a good boost to see what others have come up with and to get up and find your own way of expression in response.

How do you feel about the so called controversy of “dumbing down” patterns for knitters?
Frankly, I love the “old-style” simple patterns with very basic information and dislike the modern-day patterns where everything is spelled out in detail! Especially while writing up my own patterns this really is an issue for me. I also don’t like the fact that each pattern gets longer and longer because of this. But I have found that the clearer a pattern is written and the more information and visual aids it holds, the fewer emails I get with questions about the instructions. In the long term, the fact that I do nowadays write very detailed and long patterns has cut down a lot of the time I needed to invest in all this type of customer service. This is a very important factor to consider in my opinion, even if the pattern itself needs double the time to produce. So, as a designer I am myself “dumbing down” my patterns, but as a knitter I still prefer the concise short ones.

How many sample/test knitters do you have working for you or do you do it all yourself?
I prepare my prototype myself and after the pattern has been written up I try to find at least two testers for each size.There are some formidable testers I have had the luck to work with again and again and their feedback on readability of the pattern and fit of the final product is extremely valuable to me.

Did you do a formal business plan?
Well… I did one (or many more than one). I don’t know if one could call it “formal” though. I have a clear idea in my mind for the coming 3 months, a general idea for the coming 6 months and some goals for the next year or so. Everything is adaptable and changeable though and it all depends on many different factors.

Do you have a mentor?
Hmm… no, not in the specific sense. But there are many other designers out there which I admire and follow with great interest.
Do you use a tech editor?
I use two different tech editors. One who gets the pattern in the raw, before it is being tested and another one after the test is completed to take a look with fresh eyes over it. I think that this model works very well to eliminate all kinds of errors and, although it is more expensive, it can give me some assurance that I will not embarrass myself when publishing a pattern! It is remarkable (and quite stressful) how many errors can slip through!

How do you maintain your life/work balance?
I don’t really. At this moment (and for the last couple of years) there is no life outside of work. I am happy to take any advice on this matter though, because this is something that needs to change…!

How do you deal with criticism?
If it’s constructive, honest criticism I am very grateful and listen carefully to what the other person has to say.Then I decide if I agree and use the piece of advice or if I disagree and forget about it. I try to wait a little bit before I decide on this, since often the first reaction on criticism can be defensive or egotistical. But after a while, when this first reaction has passed, we start to see if there is something usable and applicable in the criticism we got.

How long did it take for you to be able to support yourself?
A little less than a year or so. I think that I was very lucky though.

What advice would you give someone who wants to pursue a career in knitting?
The same advice that I would give to someone who wants to pursue any kind of career: 
To love what you do (it must be something you can work on for days without leaving your house and you don’t even noticing it)
To work hard (nothing comes casually - all work, even creative work needs a lot of working hours to start to get somewhere)
To be persistent (it will take time to get to a point where things start to pay off)
To be informed (read everything you can find on the subject matter, take classes, see what others do and try out something similar to see if it works for you)
To stay informed (there is never a point where you know everything about your line of work and tendencies change constantly, especially in the fashion world)
To invest time and energy in all the “other” things related to your main production (like photography, advertising, graphic-design, marketing….)
To always stay helpful and friendly with other people (in the long term this will save your nerves, too)
And to not be afraid to change everything around, if you see that things don’t work out as you thought they would.



  1. This is precisely the inspiration I needed today! I will keep plowing forward!