Friday, July 1, 2016

An Interview with...Anne B. Hanssen

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 Anne here and here on Ravelry.

Where do you find inspiration?
I am obsessed with beauty in the tiny details that surrounds us, and I often think about the words of Keats: "Beauty is a joy forever".  I find beauty everywhere I go, and as I walk and run a lot in the forest and along the seaside I take great pleasure in scrutinizing leaves, birds, waves, flowers, skies.....  When I am in town, or traveling, I look a lot at buildings, pavements, doors, and also enjoy looking at what people are wearing, and how they wear it.  Sometimes I can freeze to the ground, looking at a garment - and I do my best not to annoy anyone by staring too much:))
All the beautiful things that I see come together in a (for me unknown) way, often combined with old memories. A color can lead me to think about a detail of a dress seen ages ago. My fascination for the A-line shape which I use a lot (Bahar, Love is everywhere, Udakua, Flirt etc.) I can trace back to my aunts tunic-like dresses worn in the 70ties. My inspiration always comes unexpectedly - and often at night.  I must sketch it down immediately, if not it will be gone the next morning.  All of my ideas doesn't turn into garments, as by now I have far more ideas than time to realize them.

What is your favorite knitting technique?
Even if I master quite a few techniques by now I am still in favor of the first technique that I (and most knitters I believe) learned: the garter stitch.  I often return to it, to make full garments (my cardigan Cardamum), a shawl (The Zebra Ruffle scarf) or use it for a tiny detail somewhere. I like garter edges as well, and often choose to use them in favor of a ribbed edge.  I also enjoy the stockinette stitch and moss stitch (seed stitch) a lot.  These techniques always knit up beautifully, and I like the rhythm and meditation using them.  And used together it might be turned into Guernsey patterns, which I love.

How did you determine your size ranging?
I do not use a standard size ranging when creating a garment.  The pattern repeat is the single most important factor I have to deal with when deciding the size ranging.  Thereafter I think a lot about how a design will look at different people. I try to make the size ranging as wide as possible, going from 30" to 50" or above.  This is however not always possible.  And to my shame I must admit that the first designs I wrote down only included a few sizes.
I am a 34" myself, and I always make the sample in my own size (as I enjoy wearing my own designs a lot:)).  In the beginning I found it hard to work out many sizes, nowadays I have more experience and am happy to offer a much wider range.

Do you look at the work of other designers?
From time to time I take a look.  I admire the work of many designers, and have a handful of favorites.  Especially those who use techniques which are very elaborate, combined with a great shape and choice of colors.  In my opinion some of the well-known designers are artists as well as they have the ability of working out a great shape. I never look at their work for inspiration really, it is more pure admiration. 

How many samplers/tester do you have working for you, or do you do all by yourself?
When I start up a design I work everything out by myself, from the sketch, through the knitting process, to the pattern-writing  (most often those 3 elements are going on at the same time:)).  If I have the time I have been asking for testers.  Sometimes I have had the pleasure of working with the same tester on several occasions.The test-knits have been extremely valuable for me!  It takes a lot of time, but it has been great in so many ways: finding out that the design works for all the sizes, getting feed-back on how to improve the pattern, spell checking.....  I have met so many nice people, all my testers have been very pleasant to work with and I cannot thank them enough for sharing their time and their knowledge with me.  I wish I had the time to test everything I make, but the process requires daily contact with several testers during a months time or more.  Hopefully I will have more time in the future:))

Do you have a mentor?
No, I do not have a knitting mentor.  I do get a lot of input from one of my sisters who is an experienced knitter, and I enjoy the feeling of sharing and discussing with someone very close.  And my daughter has been my mentor when it comes to everything computer-related!  Honestly I do not know how I could have made it without her help:)).

How do you maintain your life/work balance?
This is rather simple really: when I go to my "real" work in the morning, the knitting world stops existing. And it is also the other way around: when I come home I do not give my work one single thought: and I can dream, get inspired, sketch, knit and write patterns as much as I like (which is a lot:)).  A normal day for me includes knitting in the morning while eating my breakfast, and some knitting late at night before going to bed.  When I travel I always bring my knitting along - I would feel completely lost without it!  I try to figure out every opportunity I can get to knit a couple of rows.  My daughter is always late whenever we go anywhere: I sit in the car knitting and waiting for her!                                           

How do you deal with criticism?        
I believe that if you are prepared to meet admiration you should be prepared to meet criticism as well.  But by criticism I mean the fair kind of criticism that is put in a decent way.  At Ravelry I have found lots of appreciation, and it really, really warms my heart and makes my day.  If people contact me to point out errors I try to deal with it straight away.  This is very valuable information for me, and I am happy to receive it. On a few occasions I have met unexpected criticism that has been put in a more harmful way.  I try to deal with it professionally, but I must admit that I can be hurt as well.

How long did it take before you were able to support yourself?
For me designing and knitting is much more than about money.  I will never be able to support myself upon the designing, and I am perfectly happy that I can manage to buy the wool that I need and a chocolate bar from the income:)).The true value is the joy I have from working the design from sketch to pattern, to meet appreciation, to see my pattern made up by other people.  The designing gives me a challenge and suits my personality: I can find the peacefulness of the handicraft, the challenge of calculating and the joy of getting more experience through the process.  

What's next for you?
In two weeks time I will have my summer holidays:))  Meaning lots of knitting on the tiny island "Asmaloy" in the southern part of Norway, and also a visit to a small wool mill in the southwest of Sweden.  I am working on a couple of new designs that I hopefully will be able to present in the early autumn.  At one point or another I will have to decide how I will proceed in my designing and also in promoting it.  Design and knitting are joy and pleasure to me, and I would like to keep it that way.  I think that feeling would be lost a bit if I start thinking about it too much from a business point of view. In many ways I am still that little girl making up wardrobes for her dolls, and I would like to hold on to that feeling.

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