Friday, April 22, 2016

An Interview with...Michael Dworjan

The pattern for this shawl will be published in June

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
Michael here and here on Ravelry.

Where do you find inspiration?
That's hard to say.  I'm very technique driven so I guess I find most of my inspiration by playing with techniques and then trying to picture how they would work with a garment once I've stumbled upon one I like.  Cables are very different for me, however.  I find designing cables to be kind of like painting - I just have this intuition about how to put them together, to get them to flow, and just let my pen take me on a journey as I sketch.
What is your favourite knitting technique?
Probably double-knitting - you can do so much with it. You can do things with it people can't even imagine: cables that look completely different on each side, contrasting yarn overs, mixing lace with colorwork, having cables just appear out of nowhere and disappear again, and so much more.  I feel like I haven't even scratched the surface of what double-knitting can offer, and I'm extremely eager to start the exploration once more.
How did you determine your size range?
Generally I stick to accessories so it isn't an issue. When I do do sizing I try to be as inclusive as possible but oftentimes the technique or pattern will dictate it. One can only go so small with certain stitch patterns and I'd rather not compromise my design to be more inclusive in my sizing.
Do you look at other designers’ work or are you afraid that you will be influenced by their designs?
I do look at other designers' work but not for inspiration, more because I enjoy looking at knitwear and find some designs to be quite stunning.  I have no fear that I will be influenced by other designs - my designs tend to come about from me playing with techniques.  I do often utilize stitch dictionaries to fill in or modify my designs, however. They're an invaluable resource.

This cowl will be published some time in the future

How do you feel about the so called controversy of “dumbing down” patterns for knitters?
I was unaware that there was a controversy.  I can't say I really "dumb down" my patterns, but then I'm not quite certain what that means in this context.  I do try to think about the difficulty level of a pattern and include instructions in an easier pattern that I might not include in a more advanced pattern, but as far as I know that's common practice.  I also list out the techniques that will be used on the pattern page on Ravelry so that people know what they'll be getting themselves into.  In the future I hope to make some video tutorials of various techniques in order to be even more inclusive with my designs.
How many sample/test knitters do you have working for you or do you do it all yourself?
I have a friend of mine who's sample knit a pattern before, but usually I do everything myself.  I enjoy utilizing test knitters, however, but don't have a particular set of test knitters I use for every project.
Did you do a formal business plan?
Not yet, but I have some ideas of where I'd like to go with this business in the future.  I keep a journal of design ideas and industry ideas and then look for ways to implement them with my knitting, work, and family schedules.

Do you have a mentor?
I have friends that I sometimes bounce ideas off of or ask for advice.  Sometimes one of them will give me a great idea and then I'll figure out how to implement it.  I guess to answer your question, I don't really feel like I have a mentor so much as really good friends.
Do you use a tech editor?
Technically? Part of my wife's day job is as a technical writer and editor, so I'll often have her look over patterns before I do anything with them.  I also go over my own patterns with a fine tooth comb.  I find test knitters to be the most valuable resource when it comes to tech editing, however.
How do you maintain your life/work balance?
It helps that my wife knits and that my entire social circle consists of knitters.  I generally only work on the parts of this business where I have to ignore people when I legitimately have time to myself.  Could I get more done by actually ignoring the people I love? Definitely, but I wouldn't be nearly as happy.

How do you deal with criticism?
I try to take it as it is and evaluate it, see if myself or others find it to be legitimate.  If it is, then I look for ways to change it.  If it isn't then I do my best to ignore it.
What’s next for you?
I have a lot of ideas for designs I'm hoping to pursue. I've spent a lot of my time thus far playing with techniques and feel I've innovated a few, but now I think it's time to take a step back and create more designs with the techniques I've discovered rather than continue to push my boundaries, at least for awhile.  I'm also hoping to play with dyeing yarn in the near future and am looking forward to integrating my designs with colorways I've actually created.

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