Friday, December 15, 2017

An Interview with...Christiane Burkhard

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
Christiane here and here on Ravelry.

Where do you find inspiration?
There is not one particular source I find inspiration from for my designs. Nature, people, shapes, colors, architecture, yarn and fashion all offers a lot to get creativity going. That is the beautiful part about designing. One of my newer designs Ayona for example was inspired by the geometrical diamond shape.

What is your favourite knitting technique?
There are so many interesting techniques out there that it is hard to choose one favorite. I like to play with modular knitting as well as finding and exploring less known or new ways to achieve the construction I have in mind.

Do you look at other designers’ work or are you afraid that you will be influenced by their designs?
Looking at other designers work is like jumping into a big pool of creativity. There is always something to learn, to admire or just to make sure that the design I am thinking about doesn’t already exist. I especially love designers who found their own style or design voice instead of doing more of the same.

How many sample/test knitters do you have working for you or do you do it all yourself?
For now I knit the first sample myself, since it gives me the freedom to change things around as I go in case I want to add another detail or alter.
I work with 4 to 10 test knitters. I usually use some of my regular more experienced ones. In addition, I am also working with some less experienced knitters or testers, since their questions help to find out how user-friendly the patterns are. Let me take this question as an opportunity to thank all the people who test knit. It is very valuable for me as a designer and also for fellow knitters to get an easy to use pattern.

Did you do a formal business plan?

After moving from the US to Europe this is next on my agenda. It is always important to think about where you want to go and what you would like to achieve - especially if you plan to make designing your profession.

Do you have a mentor?
Unfortunately not. I am a learning-by-doing kind of person although I have a great network of knitters and designers who would give input or advice when needed.

Do you have a business model that you have emulated?

When I used to live in the US I worked as an hand dyer and designer to give the business a broader base. (I love dyeing too)

Do you use a tech editor?

Not yet. I just recently have started to look for someone who fits my needs and would like to collaborate with me.

How do you maintain your life/work balance?
Keeping a life/work balance is not easy. I have a family and another job. It needs a lot of discipline to balance this.

How do you deal with criticism?
Constructive criticism helps to improve my skills and pattern writing and therefore I am thankful for it. Through the years I have also learned to handle destructive criticism and it doesn’t affect me that much anymore.

What advice would you give someone who wants to pursue a career in knitting?
Through knitting platforms like Ravelry it became much easier for knitters to make designing their profession. As for any other profession it is important to learn more about what it needs to become a designer. Unfortunately, I met some beautiful knitters who thought as a designer they could now earn money with their hobby, and knit all day long. They later learned that there is much more involved, the hard way. Through the increasing possibilities for knitters to pursue this career also the number of designers increased tremendously during the last few years. Therefore, one of the things I would emphasize is to work towards developing your own style or distinct voice as a designer to avoid doing more of the same and getting lost in the crowd.

What’s next for you?
With moving to Germany, I have to reinvent myself again since the industry is different than in the US. It’s a new challenge I fully embrace. It is important for me not to get stuck in old ways….. One of the things which are on my heart in this process can be summarized with two words “Slow Fashion”.

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