Friday, March 20, 2015

An Interview with...Kelly Brooker

Sneak peek of an unreleased pattern “Simple Convolution” 
due for release March 20th, modeled by Kelly

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 Kelly here, here on Facebook and here on Ravelry.

Where do you find inspiration?
Everywhere I look my eyes see structure and pattern; they’re just geared to see things that way. I also find that clothing stores (with fabric garments, not knitwear), offer interesting inspiration.

What is your favourite knitting technique?
Octopus sleeves (a method I developed to bind off sleeves, common in my more recent patterns). 

Do you look at other designers’ work or are you afraid that you will be influenced by their designs? 
No-one works in a vacuum, and if they do, they’re telling fibs! I don’t actively seek out others work to view nowadays, but if I stumble across it, of course I will look to see what others in the industry are up to…all fields work in this way.

How do you feel about the so called controversy of “dumbing down” patterns for knitters?
I’m not aware that designers are purposely “dumbing down” patterns? My largest market is the US, and as a rule US knitters expect more detail in a knitting pattern. If my primary market was European customers, I would be more comfortable producing a pattern with very basic instruction and expect the knitter to work things out for themselves (like shaping). This however may be a historical trend.

How many sample/test knitters do you have working for you or do you do it all yourself?
I work a full time day job, plus have 4 children under the age of 9…..I absolutely use a plethora of marvelous test and sample knitters!

Did you do a formal business plan?
My business evolved - I didn’t set out to become what I am today. So initially, no. Nowadays, yes.

How are you using social media to grow your business?
I utilize a Ravelry group, and Ravelry advertising, run a FB account, and have a small presence on Pinterest and Instagram. Social media is a wonderful way to connect to your audience, and show a more personal side to your business.

Do you use a tech editor?
Yes, however not a mainstream knitting tech editor (usually someone who has been a designer that diversifies into Tech Editing). I utilize the services of a copy editor with many years knitting experience, whom covers both aspects for me.

How do you maintain your life/work balance?
My day job is a complete opposite to my design business; having the 2 professions lends me a sense of balance. I also am able to objectively sit down and decide what I can commit to doing, and not take on too much.

How do you deal with criticism?
You can’t please all of the people, all of the time. I ensure I feel comfortable with my own decisions, then do the best I can to keep most of the people happy as often as I can.

What advice would you give someone who wants to pursue a career in knitting?
Research (is there room for you? Are you offering something new?). Improve your skill set (read professional patterns, take photography classes, seek feedback from those experienced). Calm down (just because you have a great idea, you don’t have to put pressure on yourself to release it to everyone immediately! Take things slow, and ensure it is the best it can be .....if this takes 6 months the first time, then so be it. 

What’s next for you?
2015: I am continuing to do what I do; releasing approximately 20 new designs per year, revising all my early work to my modern standard, designing for small local Indie dyer yarn clubs.
2016: Hopefully will see PEKAPEKA branch out into adult design (currently primarily children's wear and accessories).

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