Friday, June 18, 2010

An Interview with...Barbara Gregory

Once a week I post interviews with interesting designers about their insights on their experience of working in the Knitting industry. I’ve noticed that every designer makes their living in a slightly different manner bringing their own unique presence to the Knitting world.

You can find Barbara here

Where do you find inspiration?
A recent project was inspired by a conversation with another knitter, a pair of earrings, a beaded purse, a photo of a decorated building in India, a knitting shop sample and a two particular balls of yarn. I love color and pattern. Sometimes I have a yarn in colors that I want to use together and will doodle and experiment to find a pattern in which to use them. Other times I start with a concept or pattern idea and then look for yarns and colors that would make them work.
What is your favourite knitting technique?
At the moment it is mosaic knitting. I love how easy it is to work and although it limits the motifs that can be created I am still managing to come up with new ideas.

How did you determine your size range?
Sample garments are ususally requested in a small size so I start with that and then grade the other sizes — maybe one smaller and then progressively larger. Some publications have their own guidelines which may specify a certain range or number of sizes. And there have been times when a deadline has dictated to me “this size you’re working on now — that’s the last one.”
Do you look at other designers’ work or are you afraid that you will be influenced by their designs?
I have no fear of being influenced by other designers and do browse as many magazines and pattern books as I can. Anything I might take from another designer’s work will be filtered through my own design sensibility. I’m always interested in other designers’ construction and how they might solve certain difficulties.
How do you feel about the so called controversy of "dumbing down" patterns for knitters?
Every knitter starts as a beginner, and some are timid about their abilities. There is certainly a need for patterns that are simple, easy, quick to knit. That doesn’t mean that all patterns must be written with a beginner in mind. As I’ve said above, one of the things I love about mosaic knitting is how easy it is. But I’m aware that there are plenty of knitters who look at my designs and think “too hard for me”. Any of my patterns that use this technique include notes explaining the basics and I always chart the patterns fully (as opposed to some mosaic charts which only show RS rows).
How many sample/test knitters do you have working for you or do you do it all yourself?
I have a friend who has test knit for me informally but I don’t like to write a pattern that I haven’t knit myself.
Do you have a mentor?
I have been given help, support and encouragement by a number of generous and friendly knitters but don’t have one I would single out over the others.
What impact has the Internet had on your business?
Oh, it has been huge. I get a lot from the internet: information about yarns, patterns and techniques; comments and feedback on my patterns; news about publications or calls for submission. And of course the internet allows knitters to see my designs and buy my patterns.

Do you use a Tech Editor?
For my self-published patterns I do use a tech editor. Anything published elsewhere would be submitted and then tech edited by their staff.
How do you maintain your life/work balance?
It’s something like a crazy quilt of random pieces stitched together to make a whole.
How do you deal with criticism?
Luckily I haven’t had a lot to deal with. If someone discovers an error I would prefer to find out and correct the problem as soon as possible rather than have more knitters encountering the error. In a case where a knitter has a problem understanding a pattern it might indicate things that could be written more clearly, or suggest tips that could be included.
How long did it take for you to be able to support yourself?
I’ll let you know when I find out.
What advice would you give someone who wants to pursue a career in knitting?
I don’t give career advice because I don’t presume that I am doing it “right” or that my way of doing things would work for someone else. As for knitting design, my advice would be to keep the well of inspiration full. Ideas come together when you have a lot of input. Try people-watching, window-shopping or gallery-hopping with your eyes (and notebook) open.

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