Friday, August 19, 2011

An Interview with...Andrea Jurgrau

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 Andrea here and here on Ravelry.

Where do you find inspiration?  
All around me.  I find inspiration in nature, in architecture, in special places, in mythology…really, I can never tell. Sometimes a place captures my imagination, and a project come out of that, like my Corfu Shawl.  When I travel the scenery, the light and the colors might inspire me.  My Diwali Wrap is very much inspired by color and light.

What is your favourite knitting technique? 
Lace.  I am all about knitting lace.

How did you determine your size range? 
Most of my pieces are “one size” but I often build in potential pattern repeats so that it can be sized up if the knitter chooses.  

Do you look at other designers' work or are you afraid that you will be influenced by their designs?  
I like to look through all the knitting magazines to see what is getting published.  There are a few lace designers who are doing unique things, and I like to follow their work.  I am not worried about being influenced by someone else’s work.  I don’t like to repeat what has already been done well, and I have so many designs in my head at any given time I almost never knit anything but what I am currently designing.
How do you feel about the so called controversy of "dumbing down" patterns for knitters?  
This is really not on my horizon.  I design because I have to, for me.  That means that as long as I can document the process clearly enough for another good lace knitter to follow me, I am happy.  I also do some work for yarn companies, which I try to keep within the context of their publishing guidelines.  That could mean just a few pages of directions and maybe only modest charts.  I consider that “keeping it simple” rather than “dumbing it down.”  I understand that 8 large charts just might not be in keeping with a yarn company’s pattern printing budget.

How many sample/test knitters do you have working for you or do you do it all yourself? 
I knit all my own samples, because I like to knit through my charts before I subject anyone else to possible glitches.  I do have several wonderful lace knitters who often test knit for me.  I try to give them a full pattern, as print-ready as possible.  They knit the piece from that and give me feedback on both the directions and the charts, and between them they usually find any errors that slipped by me.

Did you do a formal business plan?  
No.  I have an informal business plan, and it is a little amorphous, but essentially I want to be able to justify the time I spend knitting so that I do not feel guilty when I think I should be cleaning my house…and these days I am able to do that.

Do you have a mentor?  
No.  I am mostly self taught.

Do you have a business model that you have emulated? 

What impact has the Internet had on your business?  
The internet has made my business possible.  Half of my sales are from electronic sales of patterns on the internet.  It has been a wonderful way to connect with people.  I have been hosting two large group projects a year and there are knitters from almost every continent who participate.  It is really wonderful how small the internet has made the knitting world.

Do you use a Tech Editor?  
I have in the past, but right now my test knitters also act as my tech editors.  They  have particularly keen eyes for number and grammar errors and go over the pattern looking for the little mistakes I often make (like miss-numbering chart rows!)

How do you maintain your life/work balance?  
I have a family, an old house, a more than full-time career in health care and I knit.  It is the knitting that keeps the rest of it in balance.

The Diwali Wrap pattern is available from Jade Sapphire Yarn Company
The Corfu Shawl, the Blue Quartet Blanket and Persian Princess patterns are available from Andrea's Ravelry Pattern Shop


  1. Gorgeous lace! Andrea is a treasuer.

  2. Andrea's lace patterns are so beautiful! It's exciting to see how each one evolves and what new elements she has added to each pattern. I make it a point to work on one of Andrea's designs every day - in fact I'm kind of addicted to them. Knit on Andrea!

  3. Thank you for a fascinating glimpse into the process of one of our best lace designers working today! Andrea's elegant, innovative and beautiful designs are a pleasure to knit and we are so lucky to be able to buy her patterns! I always learn something wonderful by knitting something she designed.