Friday, February 1, 2013

A Special Guest Post by Fiona Ellis

When you have exciting news you want to share it with your friends so I was thrilled when Robin allowed me to write this guest post for her blog. I wanted tell you a little about what is new in my design and teaching world.

I was one of Robin’s victims, ahem I mean interviewees, back in 2009 (you can read the interview here) so I decided to go back and look at my answers to the questions she posed in that interview. And you know many of the answers still hold true. Cables are still my favourite technique (but I do love doing colour work too), I have even delved into them further. Inspiration can still take me by surprise sometimes and I still work in series - exploring a theme for a while until I feel I have exhausted it. Currently I am working on cables than mimic the feel of corset lacing, it’s a great way to be able to add what has become my signature I-cord detailing.

The one question where I think my answer might be different is when evaluating the impact of the Internet. It has been a much bigger outlet for my work than I thought was possible back in 2009 (when I already thought it was hugely important).

Photo from Twist Collective - Photographer Caroline Bergeron

Twist Collective was launched in 2008 (they are having their 5th birthday this year) and my design Bonnie  was featured on the cover of the premier issue - what a terrific honour that was! They have continued to support my work (I’m featured in each issue to date) along with encouraging a huge number of international designers, some well established and some new to designing. Because of the business model that Twist operates (a royalty based system) and how beautifully put together it is I have seen a jump in revenue for my designs.

When you combine it with our ability to share images and notes on patterns it has become a very powerful way to increase my income. There have been a couple of occasions in the last few months when my designs Gwendolyn and Granville have been at the top of “What Hot” on Ravelry which has in turn caused a spike in sales making it significant in my earning potential.

Photo from Twist Collective - Photographer Jane Heller

Along with designing I love to share with knitters what I have learned through workshops, This area too has seen big changes, especially in how we are able to deliver these classes on-line. I am one of the newest instructors at Craftsy and again I have had such a wonderful experience so far with them that I would like to share my excitement. I filmed not only a full class on designing cables (Mastering Cable Design) but also a free mini class (Creative Cable Necklines) that serves as a way for people to try out the Crafsty platform and also to get an idea of if they like the instructor before they sign up for the paid class. I was stunned at how the number of students enrolled added up in the first few days after it went live. OK I’ll admit it I was checking it every few hours as it was just so thrilling. 

At first I wasn’t sure about how I would cope with the different teaching medium. I tend to let my classes evolve organically and sometimes end up doing some impromptu things in class in response to questions that come up. So not having that instant direct feedback from faces but working to a camera was really interesting. I found I relied on things I know work in a regular class situation and tried to answer the question that I know come up every time. But it did feel strange to be making jokes and not having a response- the camera crew had to remain silent and not laugh.

However the great thing about teaching on-line, along with the fact that students can watch at any time (even in their PJ’s), is that the platform allows for question and answer between student & instructor and inter-student sharing too. Learning how valuable feedback on my design work has been in allowing me to tailor my patterns to what I see knitters respond to I think that my teaching will now benefit a great deal from this endeavor too.

I hope that you will check out my classes and let me know what you think.

Thanks again Robin for inviting me to be a guest here.

Photo from Twist Collective - Photographer Jane Heller

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