Friday, August 1, 2014

An Interview with...Michelle Hunter

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 Michelle here and here on Ravelry.

Where do you find inspiration?  
Stitch dictionaries and fashion magazines are my favorite design resources.  I often find a stitch or two that I can't resist and then design a pattern around it.  I love to follow fashion trends for color and style direction.  My office has a big bulletin board with swatches, magazine clippings, and stitch patterns - very old school Pinterest! 

What is your favourite knitting technique?  
Yikes, that's hard one to answer.  I have a current obsession with color knitting, but my favorite would have to be cables of any kind. 

You specialize in mainly in accessory patterns. do you have any future plans for more garment designs?  
I primarily design accessories for my KALs - they are short, four part mystery knits which are best suited to one or two skein projects.  I have designed garments which have been featured in various publications.  I like nothing better than wearing a hand knit sweater.

Do you look at other designers' work or are you afraid that you will be influenced by their designs?  
I try to stay clear of looking at other designer's work so I can honestly say that the piece is my own creation. 

How do you feel about the so called controversy of "dumbing down" patterns for knitters?  
I think that patterns already are written for targeted audiences.  Some patterns are suitable for all levels of skill, while others are for the more advanced knitter.  Much as readers favor an author's writing style, knitters will gravitate toward a designer with a pattern-writing style that best matches their ability. 

How many sample/test knitters do you have working for you or do you do it all yourself?  
I have two sample knitters who help knit garments for me to wear.  I like to wear samples of my designs as I travel to teach and finally caved in and enlisted their help.  I have a group of knitters who test knit my patterns as well.  The test knitters simply knit the pattern for their own use and provide me with feedback on the document.

Do you have a mentor?  
Karin Skacel has been instrumental to my success.  I met her at TNNA in 2010 to discuss my first book.  We hit it off instantly as we bounced a million ideas off of each other.  I am eternally grateful for her support as a publisher and friend. 

What impact has the Internet had on your business?  
I would be nothing without the Internet!  My idea to merge online video instruction with patterns has been the key to my success.  My videos have over three million views and I'm fortunate to be a resource for so many knitters.  I have nightmares that involve my computer crashing, website exploding and a total break down of the Internet!

Do you use a tech editor?  
I have used a tech editor for my books and garments. 

How do you maintain your life/work balance?  
I do tend to be fiber obsessed!  I knit, teach knitting, produce knitting videos, blog about knitting, design knitting and teach online knitting classes.  I love my career so there are when days I have to make a conscious effort to break away from knitting.  Luckily, I have a very understanding husband who doesn't mind being married to a knitaholic. 

How do you deal with criticism?  
While I would like to please everyone, it just is not possible.  It's human nature to dwell on the negative, but if the good comments outweigh the bad then that's where I try to keep my thoughts.

What advice would you give someone who wants to pursue a career in knitting?  
I have the following quote from Louis Pasteur hanging in my office:  "Let me tell you the secret that has led me to my goal.  My strength lies solely in my tenacity."  Work hard, don't be afraid to hear "no" and never give up!

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