Friday, May 17, 2013

An Interview with...Rhichard Devrieze

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 Rhichard here.

Where do you find inspiration for your colourways?
Most of the colour ways come out of my head.  Maybe they are there in the subconsious, but most of them are me playing with colours.  Mood has a lot to do with it and the music that I listen to while in the dye studio.  I must admit that there are certain things that inspire me.  For instance my partners Blue Crowned Mot-Mot that resides in the dye studio during the winter.  His colours are both bright and subdued.  It's an interesting combination with some jewel tones.  I am an avid gardener so this does have an influence on my colour ways too.

What is your favourite dyeing technique?
I'll have to be cryptic and say it's that thing I do.

How do you choose the fibers that you work with?
We kind of choose each other.  It's almost like establishing an interpersonal relationship.  I'm intrigued by something new and then, when I get a positive response, I want to work at the relationship, adding complexity by learning, experimenting, engaging.  And just like long-term relationships, I definitely have fibre favourites too.

How did you determine what weights of yarn you stock?
What's important to me is what's important to the people who work with the colourways that I produce, what excites them, what stimulates them to create what they do.  For me, it's always about maximizing depth of colour, reflections, refractions, emotional impact.  Some yarns 'express' better than others.

How do you come up with names for your yarn?
I'm either thinking of something even before the dyeing process begins, or something comes to mind during the process, but, often, an intended name gets 'bumped' because what the colourway looks like as a hank is quite different from what it looks like in a skein, and then again knitted.  But, most important, I really love what I do, and naming each colourway, and giving it a lyrical description is just my way of endeavouring to engage with the people who will use it.  

A coat woven, in white and black yarn which was then dyed by Rhichard.

Could you give us an idea of how long the process is to dye a batch of yarn and prepare it for sale?
An easy answer, and not an easy answer.  Without going into the specifics and the variables, usually about a week from start to enroute.  Sometimes just a few days.  Particularly if we're sold out and a particular colourway is needed to complete an order.  But, again, because I love experimenting, I prefer not to rush things.  

Do you look at other dyers' work or are you afraid that you will be influenced by their yarns?
Are you kidding?  I love looking at other dyers' products, and love seeing what knitters do!  That's the great thing about people sharing.  But I don't think I'm influenced by other dyer's any more than I would think other dyers are influenced by what I do.  We're each pursuing our separate creative urges.  And perhaps, for me, that's just natural, since I've been rather independent my whole life.

Are you a knitter as well?
I'm what you would have to call a novice among the novices.  My forte is weaving.  And I like stitching.  My problem is that each day only has 24 hours, and I have a family and four French Bulldogs. 

Did you do a formal business plan?
Of course!  And I'm really keen to see it unfold. 

Do you have a mentor?
I do and he unfortunatly died when I was twelve years old.  It was and is my maternal Grandfather.  He was a wonderful dyer who had a blanket weaving business in The Netherlands.  It was very sad to learn from my Mother that he lost the business during the depression.  This is when he took up dyeing in Helmond, Noord-Brabant.  He did what is called Java Batiks.  This is quite an interesting process and we are lucky enough to have a number of them in my Mother's home.  I am lucky enough to have one of his books in my possesion. 

Do you have a business model that you have emulated?
Yes, and no.  My partner and I are big fans of a marketing expert who has had a programme on CBC-Radio One, in Canada, for a number of years (and my partner and I are big CBC fans).  So there are some key words in our business model.  Affability.  Availability.  Accountability.  Strategic Engagement.  Exceeding Client Expectations.

What impact has the Internet had on your business?
We are a focused-internet-based business.  We have a website that is linked to Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Ravelry.  So new colourways that get posted on our website automatically get identified.  We're very aware of internet marketing strategies, but we don't pursue those in an aggressive way.  We just really want to be friends with our wholesale accounts and with their customers.  Working hard is great, as long as it's fun.  

How do you maintain your life/work balance?
I guess that's where the phrase 'strategic engagement' also applies, even though it's not always that simple.  Having a very patient and supportive life-partner certainly is important, which means that I can attend a respectable number of dog shows each year, and yarn trade shows, knowing that things will be okay if I'm away. 

How do you deal with criticism?
If the criticism is constructive and well-intentioned, I welcome it, of course.  If it's mean-spirited, well, it is what it is, and then it's not really relevant.  And wouldn't it be great if 'critique' was offered, instead of criticism?

How long did it take for you to be able to support yourself?
One can support oneself on very little, if one's aspirations are . . . limited.  Mine aren't.  I don't have aspirations for 'big' but I do for excellence.  But then I think that that's what would be expected, and should be expected.

What advice would you give someone who wants to pursue a career in hand dying yarns?
Be passionate.  Appreciate.  Welcome.  Care.  Never stop learning.  Laugh.

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