Friday, September 8, 2017

An Interview with...Svetlana Gordon

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 Svetlana here and here on Ravelry.

Where do you find inspiration?

I don't think I really have to find one: I was drawn to knitting since I was three years old, because I was fascinated by my mother teaching my older sister how to knit. I was just always curious about all kinds of handmade: what else can you do with this or that material? You can do it in crochet, but can you in knitting? Sometimes I receive sweet comments like: "Your designs is a work of art!", but what really drives me is an excitement of an artificer. I can get inspired by really fine yarn - like Malabrigo's - because of the possibilities it provides. 

What is your favourite knitting technique?
I really like flowers and leaves that I'm knitting in short rows. My pupils called it "art-form". I adore that it breaks stereotypes and there are no boundaries: you can knit freely in any direction and get unpredictable results.

Do you look at others designers work or are you afraid that you will be influenced by their designs? 
I avoid checking on other designers, because it's very easy to copy something unconsciously, and I certainly wouldn't want to steal other people's ideas. 

How many sample/test knitters do you have working for you or do you do it all yourself?
I guess you can say that I'm doing it all myself since I put my designs on sales right after I've knitted it and written the tutorial. But I have a lot of pupils at my off-line Moscow master-classes, where we constantly check if everything I've invented is okay.

Did you do a formal business plan?
No, I didn't. I'm actually no salesperson. My business in handmade began when I tried felting: made things like bags and coats, but didn't know where to put all of them. Then I decided to try and sell it, because why not? And like this I've registered on Livejournal, and on the Russian handmakers web-site later on. It was difficult to promote myself, but I've asked my friends to which I've sold my things first to write comments. Like this my things became popular in Russia. Later on I began to share my written master-classes on Livemaster for free, and one Belgium girl that originated from Russia translated one of my tutorials in French in an act of good will. So I began to sell tutorials internationally. You can see that the opportunities just sort of "clicked".

Do you have a mentor?
Not really, but I've learned from the book of Horst Schulze that knitting doesn't have to go in one particular direction. And I've also learned from Kieran Foley - he's a mathematician and creates new knitting designs, I absolutely love them. 

Do you have a business model that you have emulated?
No, I don't.

Do you use a tech editor?
No (I don't even know what that is). 

How do you maintain your life/work balance?
My work is practically my life. I invent something even in my sleep sometimes! I like to switch from doing patterns to burning wood, modelling in clay or making decor from time to time. I frequently listen audio-books when I'm working, since most of the process isn't as creative as mechanical. 

How do you deal with criticism?
I don't have it so often that it could become bothersome. I usually correct all the flaws myself when I'm creating a design. But rarely my clients do point some mistakes in my patterns. I don't get self-conscious, just note to myself to be more attentive. I'm actually getting much more frustrated when I have an idea, but just can't put it mathematically. 

How long did it take for you to be able to support yourself?
I've got lucky: my first pattern became very popular. I earned enough for a living in the first month. But I walked a long way to get to this point. 

What advice would you give someone who wants to pursue a career in knitting?
Don't offer dull things to people, there are already much more of them then are needed! Don't put any boundaries on yourself beforehand: try and see where it will go. If you fail - you can always retry, but it you succeed - it will be truly unique.

What’s next for you?
I actually dream of writing a book. I also really want to aсquire Hansen spinner and start making yarn for my projects on my own. And I have lots of requests to give master-classes in different countries: I would really love to go and travel the world someday!

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