Friday, October 22, 2010

An Interview with...Kennita Tully

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 her website here and she is on Ravelry here.  

Where do you find inspiration?
The yarn itself always inspires me. Sometimes I just look at it and stitches pop into
mind. It's crazy. Other times I pour over my favorite stitch pattern books and, with a
certain yarn in my hands, patterns just seem to leap off the page. My best knitting high
is to have the whole day ahead of me with new yarns to swatch. Companies that send
me yarns in the mail unexpectedly really make my day. I absolutely love to swatch. It's
soothing- like sketching or playing scales on the piano.

What is your favorite knitting technique?
At any given time, I never have just one, but I do really love movement in knits. Right
now, I am hooked on cables that wander over the garment at will. I also love intarsia
and color studies. Sometimes I will get a yarn in at the shop and fall in love with the
entire palette. I love the challenge to use as many colors as possible in a design.

How did you determine your size range?

I make every effort to include a full range of sizing in each design. Some designs,
however, just aren't compatible with sizing up or down in even increments. Stitch pattern
multiples have a lot to do with realistic sizing options. If there are sizes missing in one of
my designs, that's why. Owning a yarn shop has brought me closer to knitters who
choose my designs. I've learned a lot from them. I know there's a growing demand for
plus sizes, but I also hear a fair clamor from the smaller “peeps”, too.

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

I absolutely love looking at other designersʼ work and watching how they grow and/or
mutate. I've never really thought about the possibility of being influenced, although
everything we perceive influences us in one way or another.

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

I truly can see both sides of such an issue and could probably write pages on it. Over
the years, wonderful things have happened in the knitting world- knitting conferences,
cruises and camps with access to many teachers and techniques; online "lists"; blogs, Ravelry, u-tube! But the early days of these changes also intimidated a lot of people in
the process, too. Thatʼs a shame. In much the same ways young people have more
needs and expectations, I think today's knitters need or expect more, too.

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

Once upon a time I was a full time freelance designer and I had up to seven knitters
working for me. Then a crazy thing happened. I opened a yarn store in my studio, which
over the years led to more self-publishing than freelance. Right now, it's just me and
occasionally one or two other long-time knitters I've had since the beginning. Now Iʼm
moving toward full circle again as I begin to work through self-publishing my designs, so
who knows.

Did you do a formal business plan?
Not “formal" but a definite plan. I constantly revise.

Do you have a mentor?
Not a formal mentor, such as an assigned one or interning, but when I first started
submitting designs for publication, I thought of Nancy Thomas as a mentor of sorts. That
would probably surprise her. She was then editor of “Knitter's” magazine. She accepted
my first (2!) proposals to a hand knitting publication. I later went on to work with her at
other companies as well. I continue to value and respect her opinion tremendously.

Do you have a business model that you have emulated?

No, I've just been learning as I go and moving forward.

What impact has the Internet had on your business?
It has undoubtedly had a huge impact, but one thatʼs very hard to gauge. I started
designing back before I had a computer, and I was late to pick up on the blogging world.
I think a lot happened very quickly in those years, and I still have a lot to learn. The
Internet is probably the most encouraging factor of my decision to self-publish my
designs. Itʼs also been wonderful for communication.

Do you use a Tech Editor?
Since I started out doing freelance solely, I never confronted the need. However, I'm
currently working on a huge collection of my designs (more than fifty at last count!) to
self-publish. I'm now finding myself in need of one or two or three tech editors. Please
inquire within!

How do you maintain your life/work balance?
I'm not sure I do; ask my husband. I suspect he would tell you my work IS my life. It's
simply not something that can be shut off. But at the same time, I can and do still wind
down and find time to relax with family and friends.

How do you deal with criticism?
Constructive criticism is always welcome. I have an art background, so the whole
critiquing process is a healthy part of it all. I donʼt find it's often encountered on a
professional level, however.

How long did it take for you to be able to support yourself?
I wouldn't describe myself as entirely supporting myself right now, but if I truly had to, I
probably could- but certainly not anywhere near the lifestyle I've become accustomed

Follow your heart, keep communication open and never miss a deadline

No comments:

Post a Comment