Friday, July 15, 2016

An Interview with...Kirsten Kapur

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
Kirsten here and here on Ravelry.

Where do you find inspiration?
I live in New York City, so inspiration is everywhere -- from the fashionable people on the streets, to the architecture, to our wonderful parks, and rivers. I also find inspiration in yarn. I love that magic moment when I see a new yarn know in an instant what I want to do with it -- I think a lot of knitters can relate to that.

What is your favourite knitting technique?
I love the broad range of techniques that knitters use -- so I can't say I have an absolute favorite. I design a lot of shawls, and love to combine lace and color. I have a background as a textile designer, because of this I think I am drawn to the challenge of "drawing" using different knitting techniques. There is so much potential in the endless combinations of increases and decreases, knits and purls, cables and lace.

How did you determine your size range?
It really depends on what I'm designing. If it's a sweater, I like to include a very broad range of sizes. With shawls it's a little different. Not every shawl design allows itself to be written for a range of sizes. More complex designs can sometimes only be written for one size, while simpler, more repetitive patterns can be done in a much larger range of sizes.

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

I come from a background in the fashion industry where it was very important to stay on top of trends -- in ready to wear even top designers keep an eye on trends. I think the same thing applies in knitwear design. I try to stay on top of what knitters want by looking at what people are knitting and also at what is happening in the ready to wear market.

How do you feel about the so called controversy of “dumbing down” patterns for knitters?
I think knitting should be accessible, so I have no problem with it. The more people we help to learn, the larger and stronger our community is. We are lucky to live in a time when there are so many ways to learn online -- YouTube Videos, Craftsy, Creative Bug, Ravelry forums, the list goes on and on.

In my own pattern line, I have designs that range from very simple to quite complex. I like to think my designs offer something for all abilities. I also offer most of my patterns in both charted and written form.

How many sample/test knitters do you have working for you or do you do it all yourself?
I rarely use sample knitters, because I make a lot of design decisions as I knit the sample. I do have everything test knit. The number of test knitters I use will depend on the pattern and how many sizes or how complex it is.

Did you do a formal business plan?
I've never written anything down, but I've been designing knitting patterns for 10 years now, so I have a pretty clear idea of how I like to structure things.

Do you have a mentor?
No, but I do have lots of designer and knitting industry friends who I love to chat about business with. These are trusted people who I reach out to when I have a question or concern. I like to think they know they can do the same with me.

Do you have a business model that you have emulated?
No. There are lots of designers who's business minds I really admire. We each have different strengths and weaknesses, so I try to stick to what I know I can do best.

Do you use a tech editor?
Yes, absolutely.

How do you maintain your life/work balance?
When my husband starts nagging me that I work too much, I take a break and go out to dinner with him. Seriously though, this has been a challenge for me. I love what I do so it's hard to put the work down. I have a constant stream of ideas and not enough time to execute them all.

How do you deal with criticism?
I had to learn to take criticism and develop a thick skin when I worked in the fashion industry. But if someone is rude or insulting about a design, I still feel it. I try to stay open to constructive criticism though, since that can make me a better designer and pattern writer.

What’s next for you?
I've got a new book coming out in September that I co-authored with photographer Gale Zucker, and fellow designer Mary Lou Egan. It's called Drop Dead Easy Knits. The book is a collection of patterns that you might take with you when you want something interesting to knit, but will be too distracted to focus on a more complicated patterns. The kinds of things you might take to knitting group, a family gathering, on a vacation, that sort of thing. The patterns range from beginner to advanced intermediate, since the idea of what is easy will vary by skill level.

Other than the book, I will continue to publish my independent patterns, and host my two mystery knit-alongs each year -- a pair of socks in January, and a shawl in June.

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