Friday, September 9, 2011

An Interview with...Joji Locatelli

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 Joji  here and here on Ravelry.

Where do you find inspiration?
I love to see other designer’s collections.  I love to see what is in fashion and sometimes convert that into a hand-knit sweater pattern.  I haven’t designed too many patterns, but almost all of them were inspired in other sweaters that I love.

What is your favourite knitting technique?
I love simple stitches: stockinette and garter stitch… To make things more interesting, I try to use unusual constructions and shapes.

How did you determine your size range?
Unless the kind of garment is not appropriate for all sizes, I try to grade all my patterns from 30 to 60.  There was a T-Shirt that I designed for a Yarn Company and they needed the pattern to be shorter, so I graded it only up to size 50… But otherwise, I try to have the widest size range possible… Though it sometimes means so much more work!!!!
Do you look at other designers’ work or are you afraid that you will be influenced by their designs?
Oh no! I look a lot at other designer’s work and I am DEFINITELY influenced by their work.  I don’t think there is anything wrong about that.  I try to make my original work from scratch though and it always ends up being very different from the original piece that inspired it.  But I would be lying if I said that I do not look up to the greater designers…   For example, I wish I had Ysolda’s brain!
How do you feel about the so called controversy of “dumbing down” patterns for knitters?
I have never heard of that… Let me google it! OK, so I think I had to learn to simplify and clarify my patterns in order for people to understand what my instructions are about.  I don’t think there is nothing wrong about that, but it sometimes is somewhat limiting (is that a word in English?)… For example I occasionally think: “Oh! I could do a sweater on the bias and then add a frill and then… No, wait!  How will I write that into a pattern that someone can understand?” When I learned to knit, I had to learn a whole new knitting vocabulary, since English is not my native language.  I found my way through the instructions and I never needed to have everything absolutely detailed and explained.  But I think that since people are now investing a good deal of money in their patterns, they want to be sure that they will understand everything and there is no room for mistakes or “guessing”.
How many sample/test knitters do you have working for you or do you do it all yourself?
I knit all my samples, and very often, my mother knits my sleeves for me… I call her my “Sleeve Master”. I do not (yet) pay my test knitters to do this for me.  I am very lucky and people usually offer themselves to test-knit my patterns once I finish them, so I try to pick at least one tester for each size. This means that usually, about 12 testers work on my patterns when they are finished. I do pay a technical editor (which is great!  I love you Kate!) to revise them before they are released.
Did you do a formal business plan?
I don’t think there is anything “formal” in my life…  Much less a business plan!
Do you have a mentor?
No, but I am looking for one.
Do you have a business model that you have emulated?
No, but I should…
What impact has the Internet had on your business?
I wouldn’t even have a business if it wasn’t for the Internet. Living in Argentina really makes everything harder and more complicated!  Ravelry opened a whole new world of opportunities for me and the Internet audience has been really great and supportive.  Thank you everybody so much…
Do you use a Tech Editor?
Oh, I answered this before… But yes, I do and she is great. She can really deal with my anxiousness in a very awesome way!

How do you maintain your life/work balance?
I do have a steady job at my LYS, so I cannot design full time.  But I give my designing job as much time as I can! Being a mother of two small boys is also very demanding, and I try to make sure I don’t neglect them. Designing can be very addictive and I need to put my self some limits!
How do you deal with criticism?
As any human being, I get sad when someone criticize my work…  I try to take it in a constructive way and learn from my mistakes… But yes, it kind of makes me sad…
How long did it take for you to be able to support yourself?
I cannot support myself with my designing work yet.  But I plan to be a millionaire!!!! Hahahahaha
What advice would you give someone who wants to pursue a career in knitting?
Go for it!  Definitely! I am a retired physician who decided after 2 years of working as a doctor that life could get better than that. I didn’t like my career, it really made me sad.  And after my sons were born I made everything I could to earn a living doing what I love the most: knitting.  I have done a lot of things.  And I currently have a lot of “small jobs”, all fiber related.  And I proved that it IS possible!  You can do it!

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