Friday, May 27, 2016

An Interview with...Cosette Cornelius-Bates

 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
Cosette here and here on Ravelry.

Where do you find inspiration?
When I was dyeing, and embroidering on knitting a lot, my inspiration came from all over the place.  For my designs I have to say my inspiration is either something in my environment - nature and place being most likely - or it is a person.  Generally it is the person I am making the original garment for.

Because I am such a color driven person, I can also be easily inspired by random colors ending up next to each other.  I also like to explore a technique I'm working with in many different ways, so a technique will often re-appear in my designs from a particular period of time.  It can be pretty inspiring to see how many different ways a technique can apply.

What is your favourite knitting technique?
I love doing color-work with one color in each hand.

Do you look at other designers’ work or are you afraid that you will be influenced by their designs?
I've been on a bit of a designing hiatus, so I've had the pleasure of knitting other designers designs!  It has been lovely.  I've learned things and made beautiful creations.  I'm not at all afraid I will be influenced by their designs, but I also don't think influence is a bad thing.

How many sample/test knitters do you have working for you or do you do it all yourself?
I try to get everything tested in all sizes.  Usually friends (in real life and online) are doing it.  I wouldn't enjoy knitting the same thing over and over and if someone else wants to help out, who am I to say no.  They do get free patterns or free yarn (back when I was dyeing).  

Did you do a formal business plan?  How do you maintain your life/work balance?
Nope.  And my business changes every year.  Right now my husband is working 3 jobs and doing a full time doctorate in another city.  So, survival mode has reduced the business down to just running local fiber events.  My main job at the moment is to chase around my 2 and 4.5 year old.  So life/work balance varies depending upon the needs of my family at that exact moment.  When I had one child and my husband wasn't in school, I was committing a bit of time each week to designing.  Then graduate school happened and I had to pull back.  But kids are only little once and the doctorate will be over in a year.  And so we move on.

Do you have a mentor?
The way I started designing was when a publishing company approached me to write a book.  I'd never before even considered writing down a pattern.  So, no mentor except the ones I've found via books.  I've been flying by the seat of my pants for 10 years and figuring things out as I went.  When I started my WordPress blog I could only figure out how to insert one photo per blog entry.  Oh, how the times have changed.  My business has also changed from selling artsy hats at Indie craft fairs, to dyeing my own lines of yarn, selling hand-spun, to running fiber clubs, to designing, to running Indie fiber festivals to... whatever is next.

Do you use a tech editor?
Depends upon how complicated the pattern is.  I do a lot of accessory design and I find that I don't necessarily need one for those.

What advice would you give someone who wants to pursue a career in knitting?
I have purposefully kept myself to myself, publishing my patterns independently, not selling my yarn in stores because I wanted control of my business and my life.  I have such an unusual business in how much it has changed and that it isn't just designing.  I would say that if nothing else, you need to have drive.  You need to work as hard at this job as you would at any other.  This is your good work and do it well.  That and treat your body well.  Yoga, massage, or whatever you need to take care of yourself. 
What’s next for you?
Realistically, next up is one more year of semi-survival mode, a completed doctorate, and maybe a move.  I will run one Indie Knit and Spin marketplace and one Spin In.  I'm not sure when I'll get back to designing.  Or, rather, to actually doing the math and layout of the designs I've been making.  And so up next, I think I'll finish the sweater I'm knitting for myself, choose a new project, and just keep on creating.

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