Friday, July 4, 2014

An Interview with...Alicia Plummer

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 Alicia here and here on Ravelry.

Where do you find inspiration?
Hmm. A mix of places--typically the biggest factors are wearability, color, and flattery. It has to be casual because I live in the sticks, but clean enough for a trip to the city. It has to be superwash in most cases because I have small children. I'm a very emotional person, so colors usually remind me of feelings or even memories I've had. One pattern I'm working on now is called Briquette--it's in honor of our camp and my husband's triumph over learning how to work the charcoal grill! (no more lighter fluid flavor--yup, that happened once!)

What is your favourite knitting technique?
I'd have to say the Tubular Sewn Bind off is tops in my book. I'll do it on an entire hem. You just can't beat the clean edge. And half twist stockinette-so fun!

How did you determine your size range?
Honestly, it ranges from pattern to pattern. Some patterns are going to flatter more body styles, and I'll do a wide range. Sometimes it's the opposite.

Do you look at other designers’ work or are you afraid that you will be influenced by their designs?
I love to browse Ravelry and look at everyone's work! I think that everyone has such a clear brand in most cases. Being influenced by someone doesn't necessarily mean copying them, though. I was inspired by Bristol Ivy with her unique constructions and Stephen West for his out of the box thinking when I wrote Gale, but it still looks like my work. It's still me and not them. There's a difference between inspiration and copying!!!

How do you feel about the so called controversy of “dumbing down” patterns for knitters?
Hmm. Well, I think that there needs to be a level of clarity to a pattern but I also think a level of intuition is helpful. As knitters grow, they gain that guidance slowly. Until then, we're here to answer questions, and so are LYSs. I jumped right in, so I remember the frustration of being stuck, but I also remember the excitement of gaining a new skill!!! Knitters are not dumb people--but sometimes too much handholding in a pattern can end up making it more tedious and confusing.

How many sample/test knitters do you have working for you or do you do it all yourself?
I don't have any sample knitters. I use testers because I love to see people's interpretations prior to release, as well as how a garment might drape on various bodies. My testers keep their samples, I just see their pictures and use it as an extra round of pattern proofing. The best is when it looks good on everyone--Ease, Bulky Ease, & Birchbark, I am yet to see those look bad on anyone! It gives me joy to think that people can be so happy with something I wrote in my living room!

Did you do a formal business plan?
No, I probably should though! I am so disorganized.

Do you have a mentor?
I have a lot of people who have helped me and encouraged me along the way, and without them I'd be lost! Melissa (Schaschwary) was the first one to encourage me, as well as the January Mommies group on Ravelry. An amazing bunch of women!
As far as others in the industry, Antonio,  Julia Trice, Thea Colman, Amy Christopphers and Bristol Ivy, Elena Nodel, Monika Smirna, Isabell Kramer--they've all helped me at some point or another and to have their encouragement is mind blowing. They're all so amazing on their own!
When I worked with Pam Allen for the Scarves Etc shoot, I learned a TON. I mean a TON.

Do you have a business model that you have emulated?
No, I should really make one! Knit, photograph, test, tech edit, format, release, typically! My brain gets new ideas fast so I try to keep up with it. Which I can't. Not enough time in the day!!! My family comes first!

Do you use a tech editor?
Yes, absolutely!

How do you maintain your life/work balance?
I don't get much sleep! hahahaha...honestly. I typically work from 8-11 when the kids are in bed.

How do you deal with criticism?
This is a great question, because in the beginning it would bring me to tears. I would actually believe things that were said to me. I've had people name call me and chew me out over patterns that I spent hours on. That being said, I prayed about it and I felt like over time God has just blessed me with a bit more of a level head!!!!

How long did it take for you to be able to support yourself?
About half a year, give or take?

What advice would you give someone who wants to pursue a career in knitting?
Jump right in!!! And get a good camera. If you are proud of what you make, even if it doesn't do well, then that is still a success in my eyes. It's never too late to learn something new! That, and there will be mistakes on the way. DO NOT EXPECT PERFECTION FROM YOURSELF EVERY TIME.
 (This year, I'm learning acoustic guitar!)

1 comment:

  1. Great interview! I hadn't heard of this designer before and I love her aesthetic. Off to mark her (and many of her designs I'm sure) as a favorite in Ravelry.