Friday, January 13, 2017

An Interview with...Joleen Kraft

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 Joleen here and here on Ravelry.

Where do you find inspiration? 
Inspiration is all around me - nature, architecture, vintage clothing, traditional motif books. If I’m stuck for/on an idea, letting go is usually the best approach for me. Something will catch my eye or I’ll see something in the world and, all of sudden, things click into place. 

What is your favourite knitting technique? 
I’m really enjoying cabling again and am working on a new sweater that has a large cabled piece in front.

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

I don’t often look at other designer’s work. I do think it’s important to knit other people’s designs from time to time as a way of learning new techniques and seeing items from a different perspective. I don’t do this as often as I would like since I’m usually too busy working on my own designs, but it’s something I’m hoping to do more of in the coming year.

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

Is there a controversy? As a knitter if I came across something in a pattern I didn't know how to do, I would go online and do my research to figure out how to do it. I suppose I just assume that other knitters are doing the same. When I worked in my LYS, we would often have people come in and ask for help with a detail in a pattern or whatnot, so I did see people trying to challenge themselves. I imagine you hear about the same controversy for most crafts and skills; you’ll always have the dabblers that want the quick and easy projects, but the hardcore knitters are the ones who’ll stick with the craft and challenge themselves to become experts. You can design patterns for people anywhere on this spectrum and still find an audience. Maybe it just comes down to your own personal expectations; is it important that people learn complicated techniques? I can see an argument for both sides. Doing complicated tasks is certainly good for our brains and creates new pathways; so perhaps it’s a question of how can we encourage people to challenge themselves?

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

I am a one-woman knitting machine! At the moment, I do it all myself, though it’d be lovely to have testers in the future and it is something I have been thinking about.

Did you do a formal business plan?  
No. Designing has been growing organically for me. It wasn't something I really formally set out to do.

Do you have a mentor? 

I wish!

Do you have a business model that you have emulated? 


Do you use a tech editor? 

This is another item on my wish list.

How do you maintain your life/work balance? 

Ha! What’s that? When you enjoy something so much, it ceases to become work and can kind of take over your life (and your house)! However, I would be fooling myself to think that knitting always equals non-work time. I do think it’s healthy to take some time off from knitting — not only for the sake of my wrists, but also to let those creative depths replenish themselves.

How do you deal with criticism? 

With kindness.

How long did it take for you to be able to support yourself?  

I’m not quite there yet, but I’m getting there! I have been able to substantially decrease the time I spend in my other work roles.

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

It’s often said, but I think there’s truth in it: Design pieces that you love.

What’s next for you?

Soon I’ll be the knitting herbalist! I’m almost through my training in herbalism, so I am and will be directing much energy there, but I can’t see ever give up knitting and design.

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