Friday, September 30, 2016

An Interview with...Mona Zillah

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 Mona here on Ravelry.

Where do you find inspiration?
EVERYWHERE! Sometimes, I see a colour combination, or an architectural motif, a sculpture...etc. I have always felt designing garments is similar to building, things must connect and flow, in addition to the basic structure. I, also, find innumerable sources in our plant and animal kingdoms!

What is your favourite knitting technique?
I adore colourwork! It is versatile and ever changing. Each design looks completely different in a different colour combination.

How did you determine your size range? 

I tend to range from about 30 – 53inch/76 -134 cm, chest sizes. Not all designs look good on all sizes and so, I like to provide designs that flatter a variety of shapes. In addition, bunnymuff patterns are designed with flexibility in mind, try your garment on and add a few stitches here or take a few stitches there- this is your knit project.

If I had a physical Maison bunnymuff building, it would be filled with people of all shapes and sizes, with knitters, crocheters, weavers, and seamstresses and we could really get down to it...we are all allowed to feel good in what we wear!

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

I do, indeed, look, look, look...we all have different styles and I admire many things I cannot do, myself. In addition, we, knit/crochet designers, are creating a fashion paradigm and keeping in touch is crucial to the growth of this genre.      

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

I have never heard of this...but I do know there are people from all over the world who knit my patterns and if I can make a chart or keep it simple and make a bunnymuff design available to someone who does not read the languages I use, then I am all for making that chart! I provide links to techniques, in my patterns, as often as I can. A written explanation may be difficult, particularly if you are new to the nomenclature. Many of us have learned all, or most, of our knitting/crocheting via online tutorials. These are not taken for granted, anymore, and we need to have people to go to and relearn these traditions.

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

Much gratitude to my trusty test knitters! They make it possible for me to design. I have a core 4 who do my shawls. I am new to garments, but I am building a test knitter base for those items, too.

Did you do a formal business plan? 

I have an intrinsic business sense, it balances bunnymuff growth with what is physically possible.

Do you have a mentor? 

I admire a great number of knitters, artists, film makers etc., but I have never had a person there “showing me the ropes”.

Do you have a business model that you have emulated?

I am sure I am emulating something, but I do not know the formal name. I know “you want to pull in more money than you spend” and “small steady growth” is the best plan. And most importantly, all those knitters working on a bunnymuff pattern are bunnymuff! They help shape and guide the things I love to do.

Do you use a tech editor? 

I have a couple people who catch my number mistakes.

How do you maintain your life/work balance? 

This can be difficult...working at home is terrific (though I can be seen, here and there, working on various sketches or knitting out in the big blue world), but I am surrounded by bunnymuff stuff! I make conscious efforts to stop and take breaks during the day and a complete day off, here and there. Part of the designing process is to let things have life in the mind whilst the fingers rest.

How do you deal with criticism? 

Criticism is part of the job, when you are a public figure. I enjoy learning new things and different ways of doing and seeing things. Sure, it can be a bit disheartening, sometimes, but overall this is an opportunity to take a different look.

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

These things take time. There are ups and downs, but if you enjoy what you do and cannot stop...go go go!

What’s next for you? 

Ah...well, I have just branched out from shawls and mysteries, into things with sleeves. There are numerous bunnymuff sketches, ideas, and designs in the works, including mystery knit alongs, sleeves, turtlenecks, and pockets. I continue to raise money for the Tapir Preservation Fund, with my tapir themed pattern sales. And slowly, The Absolute Animals Book of Patterns is growing to be filled with accessories, garments, and home goods.

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