Friday, January 29, 2016

An Interview with...Isabell Kraemer


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 Isabell here and here on Ravelry.

Where do you find inspiration?
Just everywhere, but I think I am highly influenced by nature.

What is your favourite knitting technique?
I love to work seamlessly from the top down, not because I don't like to sew (I am a fully educated dressmaker - means that sewing is a passion, right?), but because I love to see the garments take shape and to be able to adjust on the go.

Audrey Cardigan

How did you determine your size range?
My patterns are usually written for sizes XS to XXL and that's because I can imagine the designs looking good in these sizes. I know that other designers go up in sizes, but to be honest, I don't think that every design is made for ALL sizes. It's the same in reverse...there are quite a lot designs that won't look good on me and my tiny self ;).

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

I do, of course (who doesn't)! You can't go through the world without seeing other designers' work. Sometimes it happens that two (or more) have the same idea at the same time. When this happens I take a closer look and if there are enough differences between the designs I give mine a go, if not I set it aside.


 How do you feel about the so called controversy of “dumbing down” patterns for knitters?  
Personally I don't need a helping hand when going through a knitting pattern, but there are some knitters out there who wouldn't be brave enough to go through a pattern that doesn't lend you this helping hand. So, I don't mind writing key numbers and an explaining sentence here and there in my patterns - and the feedback I get is worth all the effort.

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

For the test knits I do secretly (not publicly in my Ravelry group), I have a flock of about 30 testers I can choose from. For the ones I do publicly, I usually use two to four testers per size because I love to see their different interpretations (otherwise I would need one per size). I know this is not quite the purpose of a test knit, but I love when I feel the vivid creativity of them ;). In addition, I have one sample knitter I sometimes need when I (chaotic as I am) get in trouble with deadlines ... but mostly I do all the knitting by myself.

Did you do a formal business plan?
No, I haven't. ( ...would be better if I had one, right?)

Do you have a mentor?
Not real mentors, but some lovely designer friends who never get bored by my sometimes silly questions ;).


Criss Cross

Do you have a business model that you have emulated?

Do you use a tech editor?

Mostly, yes.

How do you maintain your life/work balance?
This is the question of my life! As I still work part time at an Arts and Craft store (teaching kids craft classes and helping them as a salesperson), my 'private' time is limited and I try to use this time carefully. But because I absolutely looooooove to knit (and design, of course), my work time often sneaks into my leisure time ;). And as I have the most supportive husband in the world, who does all the shopping, cooking, cleaning and so on, I have enough time left for my 'second life' as a designer ;).

How do you deal with criticism? 

As long as it is constructive, it's good. No one is perfect and I am grateful for every tip and hint to get better.

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

It was about a year or so before I felt that it was possible.

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

Trust yourself!

What’s next for you?  

I'm currently working with Quince, Miss Babs, and some other companies. Aaaaand...I will do some workshops this year (some will laugh at me when they read this...because I still feel that teaching is not MY part of the knitting world ;)).


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