Friday, October 28, 2011

An Interview with...Tanis Gray

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 Tanis here and here on Ravelry.

Where do you find inspiration?
There's inspiration everywhere! On the street, in the museums, in the stores, in books, magazines or in your own closet. Be observant!
What is your favourite knitting technique?

Fair isle will always be my favorite, but it's followed closely by lace and cabling.

How did you determine your size range?

When I knit for publication you're usually given a size range. For things like hats and mittens it's a pretty general size.

From Knitscene, Summer 2011

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

Of course I look at other people's work! It might trigger something in your mind that you hadn't though of, or inspire you to do better! I think it's silly if you don't look at other work around you. You need to fill your head with as much knowledge as possible.

How do you feel about the so called controversy of "dumbing down" patterns for knitters?

I believe in making simpler patterns for newer knitters (and a lot of people tend to overcomplicate their patterns), but knitters are smart. I don't think anything needs to be dumbed down.

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

I like to do it all myself, but sometimes that just isn't possible. Very occasionally do I use test knitters, but that may increase especially with recently having a baby.

Do you have a mentor?
Not so much in knitting, but my mom is a very talented and well known painter in Boston. She took me to museums and art shows constantly growing up. She taught me about color, design, proportion, composition and using my creativity. I look to her for inspiration every day.

What impact has the Internet had on your business?

It's helped! Having a website and people being able to search for me or my designs is wonderful. Ravelry has really changed things, and while I find it a double-edged sword at times, think about finding patterns pre-Ravelry. You'd look in books and have no idea if there was errata, or never be able to see the same garment knit up in 100 different yarns. The internet has connected knitters in a way I never would have imagined when I first started knitting. It's also fantastic to have a site like YouTube to watch a new technique if you're unsure about how to execute it.

Do you use a Tech Editor?

When things are for publication for a book or magazine that I am contributing to, they usually do they tech editing. For my indie designs it depends on the level of complexity. I don't need accessories tech edited, for example, but if I do a garment I will have it tech edited.

Flowered Headband
from Knit.1, Summer 2006

How do you maintain your life/work balance?
It's especially tricky these days with a 5 month old! I spend my day taking care of our son and in the brief periods where he naps, I try and get as much work done as possible. I teach in the evenings, so it's always a challenge to find time to get to everything. I stay up late getting caught up and work a lot on weekends after we put the baby to bed. Somehow we make it work!

How do you deal with criticism?

I don't think you can survive in this world without being able to handle criticism. You'll never be able to please everyone and if you can get past that, it can only make you a better knitter. I try to make designs that I would wear or that I'll learn something new in the process of making them. Once you put yourself out there you start to develop a thick skin. I do find it interesting that some people have negative things to say but when you look at their work they've never designed anything of their own.

What advice would you give someone who wants to pursue a career in knitting?
KEEP KNITTING! You learn so much knitting other people's patterns. Take classes and stock up on new techniques, learn about color theory and try new fibers you may be afraid of. It's very difficult to make a living in this field and the arts have always been undervalued. Continue to submit designs even if you get rejected. Many times if you get rejected it's because the design didn't fit in the issue, not necessarily because they didn't like it. We live in such an instant world; food to go, high speed internet, video games, mobile phones... Have patience and practice your craft. If you love it, it'll show in your work.

Pattern available here.

No comments:

Post a Comment