Friday, March 30, 2012

An Interview with...Kaffe Fassett

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. 

Kaffe Fassett, perhaps the most celebrated textile artist in the world today, is known above all for his mastery of color. In his first book collaboration with Brandon Mably, his studio design partner, Kaffe finds exciting inspiration in the textures, shapes, and patterns all around us.

You can find Kaffe here.

Where do you find inspiration?
That question which is often asked, seems to imply that I find inspiration in one specific place, where as good ideas are everywhere. Decorative Arts Museum's are a good place to start but any street or the countryside will give you so much.

Pattern from Knitting with the Color Guys

What is your favourite knitting technique?
Simple stocking stitch, as colour does all the fancy work I need.  

How did you determine your size range?
I notice a lot of knitters are large so I often design big jackets and long waistcoats to suit those generous shapes. 
I've noticed that your new book is on accessories and home decor projects. Could you tell us a little more about your design focus? 
I'm most interested in colour and pattern so scarves, throws, shawls give me a big canvas to express myself with. 

Do you look at other designers' work or are you afraid that you will be influenced by their designs?
I love to look at other designers but usually I can take them in at a glance. I love complexity which I rarely see in others work these days.

How do you feel about the so called controversy of "dumbing down" patterns for knitters? 
Sad, if knitters are encouraged they can do what I do very well. I've seen people who weren't told it was difficult, try a complex design as a 1st project and succeed!

How many sample/test knitters do you have working for you or do you do it all yourself? 
I do most of it myself these days. I used to have 2 or 3 knitters but I'm faster than most so can do my own sample swatches.  

Did you do a formal business plan? 

Do you have a mentor? 
Not really, though a lot of people in publishing and yarn production help me. Plus a network of shops around the world.

Do you have a business model that you have emulated? 
I have tried to have a shop and failed miserably so learned to keep my business simple and in my control so I admire any business that can stay strong and maintain it's original flavour. The Missoni family are doing it well. Peruvian Connection is my favourite these days with their rich hand knitting. 

Pattern from Knitting with the Color Guys

What impact has the Internet had on your business?
It certainly helps promote my books, classes, and exhibitions and my email newsletters keep everybody up to date with new work, fabrics and events. 

Do you use a Tech Editor? 

How do you maintain your life/work balance? 
Not terribly well. I am a bit of a workaholic but I love what I do and it can be very therapeutic. I try to go exercising and visiting friends and family whenever I can get away.

Pattern from Knitting with the Color Guys

How do you deal with criticism?
I don't get that much and hate it as much as anyone else. I always try and calm down and learn from it. 

How long did it take for you to be able to support yourself?
As I lived very frugally at first it didn't take long to support myself. I was good at drumming up business.

What advice would you give someone who wants to pursue a career in knitting?
If you love it and focus it can work, but you have to be very savvy about publicity and inspire people to commission you to do work and try everything at first. Most of all don't be afraid to use colour!

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