Friday, February 8, 2013

An Interview with...Janelle Martin

Once a week I post interviews with interesting people about their insights on their experience of working in the Knitting industry.  I’ve noticed that every one of these individuals makes their living in a slightly different manner bringing their own unique presence to the Knitting world.

You can find Janelle here and here on Ravelry.

Where do you find inspiration?

I have a large collection of stitch dictionaries and spend a great deal of time paging through them and considering how different stitch patterns would work together.  I also find a lot of inspiration in the patterns nature creates.

What is your favourite knitting technique?

Lace, especially Japanese lace patterns, although currently a close second is Bavarian twisted stitch patterns.

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.  I feel it’s important to be aware of current trends and how other designers express their aesthetic, brand and cohesive collections.  I feel like I’m still finding my feet in this field and have a great deal to learn from other designers.

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

Is there a controversy?  Knitters all have different skill levels depending on the technique.  I include lots of information in my patterns to ensure knitters have enough detail to succeed.  The controversy I run across is the charts versus written instruction debate – extremely polarizing!  I include both and knitters can then choose which they want to use, although this does make my patterns longer.

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

Up until now I haven’t used sample knitters that often because I work out the details of my designs on the needles.  But I’ve realized that the only way I can increase my pattern output is by employing sample knitters.  Knitting all the samples myself is too slow.  Currently I have found two sample knitters and I use the Free Pattern Testers group on Ravelry.  I’ve been using test knitters almost since the beginning.

Did you do a formal business plan?

No, I don’t have a formal business plan.  At this point designing/teaching doesn’t comprise a large enough portion of my income that I need one.  I have several large projects underway in my other spheres of work and once those are completed, I’d like to develop a more formalized approach to my designing and marketing.

I have a number of designers that have inspired and encouraged my work.

What impact has the Internet had on your business?

I couldn’t have a business without the Internet as 99% of my pattern sales come via the Internet.  Online pattern sales makes what I do feasible. 

Has being published in Knitty resulted in more sales of your other patterns?

Yes, although at the time I was published in Knitty I didn’t have a large collection of patterns.  I believe that published in Knitty gave more “legitimacy” to my design work.

Do you use a tech editor?

Yes, and the quality and consistency of my patterns has improved as a direct result of her input.  I wouldn’t release a pattern without a tech editor’s work on it.

How do you maintain your life/work balance?

That’s the biggest challenge.  For now, I go through creative spurts where I design when I can find the time.  My goal is to always have a few designs ready to go so that I can publish new designs regularly, rather than one or two a year.

How do you deal with criticism?

I struggle a lot with this one and am working on developing a thicker skin.  I set the criticism aside for a day or two until I have the distance to evaluate it realistically and determine if there is anything constructive I can take from it.

How long did it take for you to be able to support yourself?

At this point I’m not, but I look forward to the day when I can!

What advice would you give someone who wants to pursue a career in knitting? 

Be aware that it’s going to take time to build up a portfolio of designs and that success isn’t going to come overnight.  Find your niche and focus on designing what you enjoy.

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