Friday, June 10, 2016

An Interview with...Lorraine Pistorio

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 Lorraine
here and here on Ravelry.

Where do you find inspiration?

My inspiration for a pattern design comes from everywhere around me. My little grandchild inspires me, as well. Since I design toy animals, sometimes, I want to find a unique way to accomplish something, so that will be my inspiration for a new design. Sometimes, a thought just pops into my head or I’ll get an inspiration while I’m sleeping.  I’m a very visual person, so I have to be able to “see” the finished product of what I plan to design, in my head. If I can’t envision it, I can’t write a pattern for it. I spend a LOT of time thinking…working it out in my head…how I will proceed…different ways to accomplish the look I’m after…searching for the easiest way for the knitter, who will follow my directions, to achieve success and enjoyment from the pattern. I’m inspired by the challenge of placing something on the earth that I’m proud of, that others can learn to do and the desire to create something that will bring enjoyment to a child.

What is your favourite knitting technique?

I enjoy knitting in-the-round using the Magic Loop method. This creates toy animals without all the seaming of body parts later. Magic Loop also makes it easy to knit any number of stitches to be knit on the same needles.

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

I enjoy seeing the lovely toy animal designs of others. There are so many different ways to interpret the look of an animal. I design mine to look different from others, to create my own signature look.

How do you feel about the so called controversy of “dumbing down” patterns for knitters?

I’m not sure there is a controversy. I do feel that everyone learns in different ways, so patterns should offer adequate information so knitters will be successful in knitting the pattern. Having been a school teacher, I know the importance of writing directions clearly, so someone else can follow them. Much time is spent typing these initial directions into a format that is visually pleasing and orderly, and in an understandable jargon. I also rate my patterns at the “intermediate” level, since there is a lot of shaping involved. Today, through the Internet, there is easy access to information. So if there is something in the pattern that the knitter may need help with, help is not far away. I include a lot of information, both written and with pictures, and I also include my email address at the bottom of all my patterns, in case a knitter should still have a question.

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

Test knitting is valuable. But I don’t want to rely only on test knitters. In the end, it’s still my responsibility to put out a finished product that is as error-free and understandable as possible. When I first design a pattern, I do so using a “work yarn”, not the yarn I intend for the actual finished design. Using this work yarn, I write down my pattern directions as I go, using pencil and paper. When I feel it is written correctly, I type the pattern directions into my computer and print out a copy. I use this computer copy and the intended yarn to create the design again. I read and follow my directions as printed, looking for anything that may seem awkward or incorrect. Then I leave the pattern alone for a couple of weeks and go back to it with fresh eyes, proof-reading again.

Did you do a formal business plan?

No. Actually, this is just a hobby that happened to turn into a small business. I retired from my educator’s position and finally had time to get back into knitting. I enjoyed creating these toy animals and started writing up the pattern directions. Before long, I was selling the patterns on the Internet. So there’s no formal business plan. I do try to create some goals for myself, but I keep it fun and pressure-free.

How do you maintain your life/work balance?

Since I’m retired now, I make my own schedule and it’s very flexible.

What’s next for you?

I’ve always got lots of ideas for new designs floating about in my head. I keep a list, so I don’t forget them. I’ve got two new designs ready to go, but I like to allow time in between putting patterns out. I don’t feel rushed to get them out. I remind myself that I’m retired from the scheduled life that I had for so many years. Like I said, I keep it fun and pressure-free. This is just a creative outlet I enjoy as a hobby. I continue to challenge myself to grow and learn and find new ways to achieve shape in knitting in a simple and enjoyable way. I try to create products that have a certain sweetness to them…that will bring enjoyment to those who receive them.

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