Friday, June 12, 2015

An Interview with...Holly Chayes

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 Holly here and here on Ravelry.

Where do you find inspiration?
Anywhere & everywhere - I generally find that the more diverse the places I take inspiration from, the more interesting the pieces I create are. 

What is your favorite knitting technique?
Lace - hands down. But I also love playing with colorwork.

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 think it's critical to be aware of what's going on in your field. That said, I try not to let what other designers are doing heavily influence what I design or publish - I think one of the keys to being a designer is believing in your own voice. 

How do you feel about the so called controversy of “dumbing down” patterns for knitters?
I'm not sure I think patterns are being "dumbed down." I think there's just been a broadening in the availability of pattern writing voices - some of which are very explanatory, aimed at beginners, and some of which aren't.

How many sample/test knitters do you have working for you or do you do it all yourself?
I do all my own sample knitting. 

Did you do a formal business plan? / Do you have a mentor?
Nope, though things would probably have moved more efficiently if I had. 

Do you have a business model that you have emulated?
While, I don't have a business model that I could point to and say, "I want to emulate that.” there are a couple business models I can point to and say, "I want something like that, with much more X, a lot less Y, and a pinch of Z."
How are you using social media to grow your business?
I wouldn't have a business without Ravelry, or blogging, so I guess you could broadly say social media is at the heart of my business (though not in a "post on Facebook a dozen times a day” sort of way). 

Do you use a tech editor?
How do you maintain your life/work balance?
I'm don't think I do have balance, and I'm not sure I want to - I like thinking of it more as a life/work melding. There are times when I work, and times when I take time to relax, and rejuvenate. But the “time off” isn’t “not working” recharging is an essential part of being a creative person in a creative field. 

How do you deal with criticism?
Lightly. Criticism about art or design is often a matter of personal preference, so when someone doesn’t like something, that’s cool, and when I feel confident in a design, it's easier to believe that. I figure there are plenty of things I don't like & other people love, and there are plenty of things I love & other people don't like, and that’s awesome. Of course, some days a comment hits right where it hurts, in a way that throws me straight into my "stuff" (doubt, anxiety, etc.). For me, those are best dealt with by administering space, time, & cat videos. 

How long did it take for you to be able to support yourself?
I don't support myself through knitwear design alone. I’m a freelance artist, so I support myself through a variety of projects.

What advice would you give someone who wants to pursue a career in knitting?
Listen to your own voice, and get really clear on why you want to do this - both of those'll help get you through the times things get sucky. 

What’s next for you?
Next up I'm finishing up a project where I only wear clothes I’ve made for a year - that’s done at the end of July - and after that I’m not exactly sure what’s next, but I have a hunch that it’ll be a writing project of some sort.

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