Friday, December 16, 2016

An Interview with...Alice Hammer

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 Alice here and here  on Ravelry.

Where do you find inspiration?  
Usually, I touch yarn and I see a sweater. I am very fond of fashion history, I’m always reading about that. I love to work with traditional inspired designs but twisted in a way I want to wear nowadays as a 30 years old Parisian.

What is your favourite knitting technique? 

I love to knit with double pointed needles. I love how it feels to have 4 needles in my hand.

Do you look at other designers’ work or are you afraid that you will be influenced by their designs? 

Sure, I look at it. We have to be together, it is a hard job, we have to support each other. I admire a lot of my colleagues.

How do you feel about the so called controversy of “dumbing down” patterns for knitters? 

I feel like I don’t see where the controversy is. People start with large needles and easy patterns and if they feel like it, they improve. People do whatever they want, I don’t know who I am to look at who knits what.

How many sample/test knitters do you have working for you or do you do it all yourself? 

I knit (almost, sometimes I need my mom and grandmother who are my second pairs of hands) all the prototypes but after I have test knitters. I am lucky to work with La Droguerie who provides yarn for my testers.

Did you do a formal business plan? 

I didn’t when I started. As it is now a full time job for me, I need to have a business plan. If I want my company (even if it is a small one person company) to live, I need to work with other people such as illustrator, graphic designer, yarn companies, design agent, accountant… I need to know where I go, it’s not anymore just me knitting on my sofa as I did before.

Do you have a mentor?  

The La Droguerie team helps me a lot.

Do you use a tech editor? 

No calculating is one of my favorite parts of the job! Even if I make mistakes sometimes! I discovered only one month ago that tech editors exist. Maybe in France it is not common.

How do you maintain your life/work balance? 

It is very hard. I am a single mother and I often feel about to burn out. I work every weekend, I work almost every evening when my son sleeps and I never take real holidays. And I receive too many emails.

How do you deal with criticism? 

I have never had to deal with very nasty criticism. People are kind, even when there is a mistake in a pattern.

How long did it take for you to be able to support yourself? 

It is still hard.

What advice would you give someone who wants to pursue a career in knitting? 

My answers are my personal viewpoint, I guess everyone has different experiences but I would say that all roads lead to Rome. What I learned from my experience is that you can come from nowhere, have never been an entrepreneur or worked in the knitting community and do something. I would say that the important thing is to wonder what you can offer to people. What is your thing? Sometimes it is hard because you have to give something very intimate from you to your business (I don't know if you understand … hard for me to speak about that in English). I see a lot of people who want to be designer just to be designer. You need to know that you will have to work all the time.

What’s next for you? 

A lot of things! My patterns will soon be available in Japanese which I really look forward to because I am very attached to Japan (my boyfriend is Japanese). I'm starting to design children's patterns. I'll be at a yarn festival in Paris called « Aiguille en fête », it will be my first time with a stand of my own, I am pretty excited because I love to meet other knitters. I love when people come wearing sweaters I designed and I love to talk about knitting and laughing with them! I think one day if I get rich I would love to open a shop.

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