Friday, July 22, 2016

An Interview with...Melissa Schaschwary

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 Melissa here and here on Ravelry.
Where do you find inspiration?
I find inspiration in all types of places; nature, textile patterns, fashion trends, but most often, I design things that I actually want for myself lol.

What is your favourite knitting technique?
I really enjoy learning and using new cast on and bind of methods. It’s incredible, the affect a good start or finish can have on a project.

Do you look at other designers’ work or are you afraid that you will be influenced by their designs?
The only time I typically look at other design work, is when I have an idea in mind for a new design of my own and am checking to make sure that it hasn’t already been done. As a rule, I do this before casting on any new design work.

How do you feel about the so called controversy of “dumbing down” patterns for knitters?
I’m not sure I’ve even heard of this controversy.
I try to make my patterns as accessible to as many knitters as possible from the beginner to the experienced. I would think that a clear, well written pattern (or any type of instruction for that matter) shouldn’t have to be dumbed down.

How many sample/test knitters do you have working for you or do you do it all yourself?
I knit all of my samples myself because I always want to keep the finished piece. I do enlist test knitters (generally 4-5 volunteer testers) because I feel that their feedback is essential…and it’s a great way to meet new knitting friends.

Did you do a formal business plan? 

I did not.

Do you have a mentor? 


Do you have a business model that you have emulated?
I don’t.

Do you use a tech editor?   

I do.

How do you maintain your life/work balance?
This has been one of the biggest learning curves for me. The face of work vs home life has changed numerous times over the past few years in our home. When I began designing, I had a sleepy newborn and a 5 year old who was away at kindergarten. I had a lot of quiet time for designing and did quite a bit of it back then. These days, however, I home school both girls who are now 10 and 5 and am forever busy with extra curricular activities. Design has become something that I do in my spare time. I have a rule that I don’t touch my yarn, or emails until my kids are in bed. That way they get my undivided focus which is important to me. I’m a mom first, designing has become something that I do in the evenings.

How do you deal with criticism? 

I try to take all criticism as a learning tool to better my product and I try not to take any negativity personally. If someone is unhappy, I always try to do my best to get to the root of the problem and fix it as quickly as I can. I’m not a perfect person (nor will I ever be) and there is always room for growth.

What advice would you give someone who wants to pursue a career in knitting?
Follow your dreams, believe in yourself and do what you love. If you do those things, I believe anything can be a success.

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