Friday, September 4, 2015

An Interview with...Bente Geil

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 Bente here and here on Ravelry.

Where do you find inspiration?

I like details and I look a lot for details in knitted and sewn garments. It can be a little detail that even is a simple fault, but used in the right way it might bring something unique to my design. I can also be inspired by a certain fold in a skirt, or a sweater wrongly buttoned. I really like to make knitting samples and I prefer to make a lot of them in the same pattern. In the details of the pattern I can find the inspiration for a whole sweater. 

What is your favourite knitting technique? 
I love ribbed knitting. Ribbed knitting is nice and simple and put together with other techniques it will bring calmness to the whole impression of the design.

How did you determine your size range?
I do not only make the sizes in Small, Medium and Large, but also sizes to big girls. As a designer I have a thorough knowledge to my patterns and I know exactly how to graduate the sizes. This way I can make sure that more knitters have the possibility to knit my patterns. 

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 and if it is a good design I can get quite aggravated that I wasn´t the one to invent it. I think it is very important not to copy other designers, but to interpret a detail is OK. In Denmark we have founded a union of Danish knitting designers as we think it is very important to meet and talk together and maybe inspire each other.

How do you feel about the so called controversy of “dumbing down” patterns for knitters? (editors note: Bente misunderstood my question, however I let it stand as she explains her reasoning for not selling online)

I am not happy to sell my patterns online. That way they can be copied and I don´t get the income for them. People do not always respect a knit designers work and I often feel I have to be grateful that they even want to knit my designs. I am grateful! No doubt about that, but I also have bills to pay. Therefore my patterns are not for sale as downloads on Ravelry or on my homepage.

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

I always knit a new model at least 2 times myself. Thereafter I have around 4-5 test knitters to knit the different sizes. I like to use different test knitters each time. A knitter can easily go ”knit-blind” and they actually usually do. They do not read the pattern carefully because the think they know what to do, and that way they will miss possible faults. I have a corps of about 70 test knitters.

Did you do a formal business plan?

No, I am not good at that.

Do you have a mentor?
No, but I should have one. I have a “Knit-Mom”. She is Vivian Høxbro.

Do you have a business model that you have emulated?
No, I haven´t. I have just been following the development

Do you use a tech editor?

How do you maintain your life/work balance?
It is my hobby to knit and it is also my work. So I think about knitting and my company almost all the time. I always have my knitting with me and my hands are never at rest. When my hobby also is my work I sometimes wish that I would do something else in my limited spare time.

How do you deal with criticism?
Sometimes it touches me and sometimes it don´t. If there is any truth in the criticism I listen and try to correct things. Fans and haters will always be there and the social networks are easy to use without any risk of consequence.
How long did it take for you to be able to support yourself?

I was working with the company as a hobby for 2 years before I was able to work full time with it as a living.

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

You must have a good and unique idea that separates you from other designers. Because you can knit you are not necessarily a designer. You must qualify yourself. Then you must prepare yourself for the very hard work it is. And sometimes you will hate to knit.

What’s next for you?
I will attend Stitches West in February 2016. I am going to teach there. After Stitches West I will make a tour in the US to visit yarn shops. I will be traveling around for 14 days.  I am really looking forward to that. And in the near future I am having a dog.

No comments:

Post a Comment