Friday, September 16, 2016

An Interview with...Irina Anikeeva

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 Irina here and here on Ravelry. 

Where do you find inspiration?
Some would say that Southern California where I have lived for the last 5 years, is an unusual place to find the inspiration for knitting design, but I find it here all the time. The wonderful combination of Spanish and Western culture produces lots of beautiful patterns, buildings and folk art. I love spending time in museums when I'm looking for the inspiration for stitch patterns or garment shapes and nature is a source for amazing color combinations. I find the most inspiring thing is the communication with the knitting community. I never feel more inspired than after talking to my knitting friends! Ideas are almost overwhelming me after those conversations!

What is your favourite knitting technique?
I’m not sure if I have a favorite technique. I do love cables, lace and twisted stitch textured stitch patterns. I don’t mind finishing. I find it very soothing to see how the proper finishing makes the look of a garment defined and refined, but I also enjoy making seamless, almost finishing-free designs.

How did you determine your size range?
It usually depends on the pattern, but I like to make a wide range of sizes. Most of my sweaters range from 30’’ to 50’’ bust circumferences. One of the first questions I ask myself when I start working on a new garment design is "will it look nice on different body types?’’ If I have doubts, I change the design accordingly.

Do you look at other designers’ work or are you afraid that you will be influenced by their designs?
I love to see other designers’ work! I'm always in awe of their talent and skills. I don’t think it affects the ingenuity of my work. Every designer has their own approach and point of view, and I have my own.

How do you feel about the so called controversy of “dumbing down” patterns for knitters?
I read somewhere that a nicely written pattern can be a great teaching tool by itself. It does not necessarily mean that every little detail should be explained in full, but every knitter buying a pattern should have a decent explanation of new techniques, nice and clear directions and, probably, a link to an outside source. I can hardly believe it now, but when I started to design knitting patterns about 2.5 years ago, I had never used the short-row technique. Most of the helpful information I’ve learned about this technique was from well written patterns.

How many sample/test knitters do you have working for you or do you do it all yourself?
I usually write the pattern first and then follow my own directions, working on the sample, so I'm the first test knitter. After that I always call for test knitters, usually through the Ravelry Free Pattern Testers group. I found there are lots of great, attentive and oh so talented testers and now I don’t know how would I work without them.

Do you use a tech editor?
Oh yes, I recently found a great tech editor: I am striving to make the most helpful and error-free patterns and without a tech editor it's almost impossible.

How do you maintain your life/work balance?
I work at home and it has some perks and difficulties. Of course, I don’t have to commute, dress and put on make-up for work, but it requires lots of self-control and organizational skills to get everything done. 

How do you deal with criticism?
After a career in retail I hoped that I had grows a thick skin! Nevertheless, criticism is a chance to make my work better. Have I overlooked something? Is this an explanation which needs to be clearer? Sometimes one needs to be directed to the opportunity for improvement.

What advice would you give someone who wants to pursue a career in knitting?
Be prepared to learn a lot of things! When I realized that knitting design is something I am passionate about, I had to learn photography, web design and bookkeeping among other things. Don’t be afraid to act. Sometimes the doors we think are shut, are in fact wide open.

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