Friday, September 23, 2011

An Interview with...Amanda Lilley

Pattern available here

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 Amanda here.

Where do you find inspiration?
I find inspiration almost anywhere and everywhere. Often times I can work a whole project around a set of buttons and sometimes a certain yarn will just jump out at me. If I really like the color and texture of a yarn it’s never too long before I dream up a design.

Pattern available here

What is your favorite knitting technique?

I go through phases. I enjoy knitting lace when I have quiet uninterrupted time; I also enjoy stranded color work.

How did you determine your size range?
I design by the Yarn counsel standards. When I design for women my sizes usually range from 28” to 48” chest.

Pattern available here

Do you look at other designers’ work or are you afraid that you will be influenced by their designs?
I do like to look at other designers work and I am often challenged and inspired by it. I also like to see the unique spin other designers add to their personal designs. To some degree we as designers are always recycling old ideas so I’m not overly afraid of being influenced.

Pattern available here
How do you feel about the so called controversy of “dumbing down” patterns for knitters?
Knitting has changed so much over time, what is now considered advanced was once the norm. I used to have a wonderful old black and white photograph hung on my wall showing a group of small children knitting socks for their family. It always made me smile as for them it was less of a science and more of a natural art. With that in
mind it sometimes seems a little silly that designers must include directions like “slip marker”. On the flip side, I have been teaching knitting for some time and I still get joy from seeing a beginner knitter suddenly “get it”. If explaining in depth will encourage a beginning knitter to stick with it I am happy to write detailed patterns.

How many sample/test knitters do you have working for you or do you do it all yourself?
Occasionally I will use a test knitter but most of the time I do my own test knitting. Often times it is in the test knitting that I discover how to improve a pattern and work out any quirks.

Did you do a formal business plan?
No I did not, sometimes I think I should have one and other times I think it’s not always easy to put creativity in a box.

Do you have a mentor?
I have been mentored through many wonderful books from all of the great knitters that have gone before me. I have learned the most from Barbara Walker, Mary Thomas, Elizabeth Zimmerman, and Jacqueline Fee.

Do you have a business model that you have emulated?
No I don’t but I often wish I did, for me the fun is to design, it’s what I love to do.  I sometimes get a little frustrated when forced to stop the whole process to take care of other things.  I’m sure there has to be an easier way.

What impact has the Internet had on your business?
For me, the Internet has been a lifeline, 90% of my pattern sales are through the Internet. Also when I teach weekend retreats most of the attendees are Internet contacts. I used to own a small brick and mortar shop and find that around the clock Internet sales are far less restricting.

Do you use a Tech Editor?
Yes, I do.

How do you maintain your life/work balance?
I work at home and all too often life and work seems to merge into one, with two small children it’s often easier to work later at night while they sleep.

How do you deal with criticism?
I don’t think it’s possible to please everyone all of the time, so I try not to take anything too personal, mostly my feedback has been positive but I’m always willing to listen to new suggestions.  

How long did it take for you to be able to support yourself?
It’s still a work in progress, and it has taken about 4 years to get to where I have a steady something coming in.  

What advice would you give someone who wants to pursue a career in knitting?
I would encourage anyone that has a love for knitting to pursue a career in it. With every new project you learn something new. Seek advice often and constantly challenge yourself!

Pattern available here

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