Friday, December 20, 2013

An Interview with...Lynette Meek Photo credit Aurora Photography

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.  Lynette was 1st runner-up in the 2011 Vogue Magic of Mohair Competition and has been very prolific since then.

You can find Lynette here and here on Ravelry.

Where do you find inspiration?

In simplest terms – Everywhere.  The world around me is full of colour and texture.  

My hobby is photography.  It used to be knitting.  I purchased a camera to learn to take pictures in order to take better pictures of my knitting.  Now I take pictures of everything.  What I see around me is my bedrock for colour and texture.

As well, I work in my local yarn store; sometimes it is the yarn, or the colour, or a customer’s chance remarks ”What If I do this....” or “Do you have a pattern for.... “ and my brain will be off and running.

I started my adult education in University, training to be a costume designer, and that has definitely carried through to my knitting designs.  I have a particular love of vintage dress designs and embellishment – sometimes I have to stop and let a design be – I can go “overboard”! 

I have just finished a few designs for The Buffalo Wool Company.  They are publishing an E-book called “Cow Girl Up!” that will be available Dec 15th.  Those designs are heavily influenced by my love of old Westerns.

As you can see almost anything can lead to inspiration.

What is your favourite knitting technique?

Lace, Bead knitting and knitting with beads, Lace and beads, did I mention Lace?  LOL!  For fun – I paint my lace garments and shawls after knitting.

Do you look at other designers’ work or are you afraid that you will be influenced by their designs?

I am looking at other designer work all the time.  My job is to help knitters find projects; patterns and yarn they will need to create their next knitting success.  I need to be aware of what is going on and what patterns are available, mine or others.

I don’t think that any designer is consciously influenced by another’s designs, what I think we are collectively influenced by is the fashion world; the knitting that we see there, the styles, will reflect the colours and shapes that our customers are going to want.  We try to make those influences work with our individual design styles.

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

I never do it.  There are all kinds of patterns designed for all kinds of interests and skill levels.

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

I haven’t really worked with test knitters until the last year or so.  Most of my designs were started as class projects and went through the classroom setting to work out the bugs.

I am now working with a test knitter who also acts as a tech editor.  We work well together and she knows how to ask the questions or point out the problems within my patterns.

As a designer I mostly “design” on my needles and write out the pattern as it progresses.  If I can “see” the design in my head I can create it.  This year marks the first year where I wrote a pattern and had someone else knit it – a step forward for me.

Did you do a formal business plan?

Knit as much as I can for as long as I can and maybe even get paid for it! Not really, I am doing what I love, Creating and playing with yarn every day.  I am working on the theory that doing what you love is more important than any small financial details.

Do you have a mentor?

Until recently I would have said no.  I have friends who have helped and influenced me – my current employer is a friend and big supporter of my creativity.

This year I started working with the Buffalo Wool Co.  I would say that Ron and Theresa Miskin, the owners, have become both friends and mentors.  They are right in the middle of the whole knitting and yarn “business”.  I have learned a great deal from them.

Turtle Flower Gauntlets from Cow Girl Up

Do you have a business model that you have emulated?

See above.

What impact has the Internet had on your business?


Through the Internet I found out about the Vogue Design Competition – Magic of Mohair – Being the runner up in that competition in 2011, put me on the “map” as far as being a designer.

Until the advent of Ravelry I had only sold my designs at Mad About Ewe Fine Yarns.  Ravelry gave me a new audience.   

Patternfish opened up another audience.

A design competition on Facebook introduced me to Ron and Theresa Miskin. 

The Internet has opened up the world to me and other “small” designers.

Do you use a tech editor?

My students, my test knitter, my co-workers, my boss and I.  We can all read, count and otherwise look for the easy to find technical mistakes.  Some still get missed.  It is not until a knitter, across the continent goes “Huh”?, that you really find the big mistakes. I apologize, but designers are human, we make mistakes, we try not to, but it does happen.  You fix them and go on.

How do you maintain your life/work balance?

My work is knitting.  My life is knitting.  Perfectly balanced!

How do you deal with criticism?

If it valid, I will listen.  If I can change something I will.

If it is griping, I ignore it.  We cannot please everyone all the time, heck, most of the time we can’t even please ourselves!

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

I will let you know when that happens. I do not make enough with my design work to live on.  My daughter quipped the other day;

“Mom, you have made it – you have an employee!”  My reply,  ”Yah right, she only gets paid in yarn!”  Her response, “Well, isn’t that what you get paid with!”  LOL!

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

Knit because you love it.  Making a living has to be secondary.  Knitting could support you at some point, but do not turn what you love into something you hate trying to make it do everything for you!

Lace Waterfall coat. Photo Credit Rose Callahan.

Lace Waterfall coat.

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