You can find Heather here and here on Ravelry.
Where do you find inspiration?
I find inspiration everywhere. Maybe a color or a bit of architecture, sometimes a specific yarn, or stitch pattern; I'm always on the lookout for new ideas.
What is your favourite knitting technique?
Lace was my first love. I always find myself returning to it. Even in my cables book I managed to squeeze in a whole chapter of lace.
How did you determine your size range?
For garments, I try to provide sizes between 32" and 56". These of course change due to pattern repeats or pattern size (magazines usually want only 5 sizes). For hats and accessories like socks, I try to provide at least 3 sizes.
Do you look at other designers’ work or are you afraid that you will be influenced by their designs?
I like to look around. I do this so that I don't inadvertently copy someone else. I think as designers we are all influenced by things like current fashion trends etc. When someone comes up with an idea, there's a good chance that someone else in the design world has had the same idea. It's then a matter of who publishes first.
How do you feel about the so called controversy of “dumbing down” patterns for knitters?
This is a hard one. I do believe that some knitters, especially beginners, need a little help. However, it's feel that it is a disservice to them to make the patterns too easy. I don't think that patterns should include extensive text and tutorials. That can be done separately. In fact, including all the extra text and "conversation" can be distracting and confusing. Sometimes just the bare instructions is the most helpful.
How many sample/test knitters do you have working for you or do you do it all yourself?
I like to do it all myself...but this isn't always possible. I've used about 3-4 sample knitters. These are always local people who I trust and know their knitting skill sets. I don't often use test knitters, usually I'm too far behind in my schedule for that. When I write patterns, I always have the whole pattern and all the sizes, mapped out before I cast on. In this way I'm (or my sample knitter) is the first "test".
Did you do a formal business plan?
Formal, no. But do I have a plan. I think for anyone who makes design more than a hobby, a plan is a must. Maybe most importantly, I have goals. These might not fall into clean 1, 3, and 5 year time lines, but goals.
Do you have a mentor?
No, not really. However, I've known and met many inspirational women in the fiber industry.
Do you have a business model that you have emulated?
I don't believe so; I'm just making it up as I go.
Do you use a tech editor?
Yes. This is essential. With more eyes, more mistakes can be found. It's an important step because I want knitters to have confidence in my patterns. In addition to finding errors, my editors help me streamline my patterns, come up with better ways of explaining things, and make me a better designer.
How do you maintain your life/work balance?
I don't. This sounds bad, but it's not. I love my work so much that it doesn't feel like work. Therefore, I end up working all the time. Sometimes I take a break and play a game on my phone, or surf the web, but ultimately, if I'm awake then I'm knitting, designing, or blogging about knitting or designing. It's a choice that I've made, and I'm happy with it, but it's not for everyone. I'm lucky to have a very understanding husband, and no children to drive around.
How do you deal with criticism?
I feel that all criticism is a chance to improve, a learning experience. Of course it always hurts, but I try to remember this funny saying, "You cannot please everyone all of the time; you are not pizza."
How long did it take for you to be able to support yourself?
I don't support myself. Honestly, all the money I make gets put back into the business (Stitch Sprouts). I'm very lucky to have a supportive husband who takes the brunt of the bill paying responsibility. Right now my focus is on growth; soon I hope to transition into profit, but not yet.
What advice would you give someone who wants to pursue a career in knitting?
You need to have realistic expectations. You can make knitting a career, but it takes a lot of hard work and a lot of time. Nothing happens overnight, especially in knitting. You should do this because you love it, not because you expect to get rich and famous.
What’s next for you?
Next I'm hoping to concentrate on making Stitch Sprouts some great pattern support. We have fabulous yarns and now we need some patterns that people will want to make. I have other books in mind too...but I think those have to wait for a bit!