Friday, December 16, 2011

An Interview with...Hannah Fettig

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 Hannah here and here on Ravelry. All patterns in the pictures are available on her website.

Where do you find inspiration?
I'm most inspired by vintage and current fashion, and my hometown here in Portland, Maine. 

What is your favourite knitting technique?
I love short rows, I'd like to use them more!  It's such a great technique for shaping.

How did you determine your size range?
My technical editor, Tana Pageler, has been really good about helping me with this.  My designs are typically simple enough, they translate very well to a wide range of sizes.  I want my designs to be accessible to as many knitters as possible!  

Do you look at other designers' work or are you afraid that you will be influenced by their designs?
I do look at other designers' work, but not as much as I used to.  There's no time!  I do feel like our industry is very supportive, for example when I announce on my blog or Twitter that I have a new design, many other designers chime in with praise.  It's nice to feel like we're all rooting for each other.  In terms of being influenced by other designers, everyone's work is so accessible with the Internet and Ravelry, it's hard to think we aren't all influencing each other. It's exciting, really.

How do you feel about the so called controversy of "dumbing down" patterns for knitters?
hmmm, sorry Robin, I'm not sure I know exactly what you mean? 

How many sample/test knitters do you have working for you or do you do it all yourself?
I used to do all my own sample knitting, but have found it necessary to regularly use sample knitters so I can continue coming out with new work.  Having a toddler means I don't have as much time as I used to for knitting!  I'll work on the tricky bits of a pattern on the needles, and then send a rough draft of a pattern to a knitter who communicates with me as they go about any possible issues.  

Did you do a formal business plan?
No.  I never anticipated that I would end up where I am today with knitwear design.  I was just having fun, and the next thing I knew, thanks to Ravelry, I had a real job on my hands!   At the beginning of this year, and did start pursuing the wholesale market, which has been very successful.  And for Coastal Knits, Alana and I did have a business plan of sorts.  But again, we never anticipated that Coastal Knits would be as successful as it was! 

Do you have a mentor?
I really haven't had anyone guiding me along this road.  Most of the work over the past few years as taken place in the seclusion of my home.  I have always liked to have other people to bounce ideas off of, Alana has been that person for a long time.  Recently I moved my office in with Quince & Co., and it's been nice to see other industry people so regularly. 

What impact has the Internet had on your business?
As I mentioned earlier, it's had a huge impact.  I don't think I would have had the success I've had without it, or at least not so quickly.  Whisper Cardigan and Featherweight Cardigan benefited from the fact that word spreads so quickly on the Internet.  Those continue to be my two most popular designs!

Do you use a Tech Editor?
I do, for Coastal Knits Alana and I actually used three. Tana is instrumental to my pattern writing, particularly sizing. 

How do you maintain your life/work balance?
It's been a struggle.  I've recently been trying to outsource as much as possible.  I hired an assistant the beginning of November, and this has been a welcome relief. 

How do you deal with criticism?
It can be challenging, but I try to keep perspective.  For the most part knitters are very happy with my designs.   Some days I'll find myself getting hung up on a negative experience with a Knitbot pattern reported on Ravelry, I hate to think of someone having to frog an entire sweater because they weren't happy with the end result! 

What advice would you give someone who wants to pursue a career in knitting?
I'd say to be patient, building a reputation takes time. Establish an on-line presence, for blogging purposes I think a good camera is a worthwhile investment. Presentation can be everything.  Slowly build an audience, if they like what they see they'll come back for more! 

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