Friday, June 30, 2017

An Interview with...Mary-Ann Lammers

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 Mary-Ann here and here on Ravelry.

Where do you find inspiration?
My inspiration comes mainly from colour and texture. The fluidity of both colour and the knitted fabric is what pulls my mind into the direction of experimenting with something new to me. I was recently attending a horse show in Rome and there was a woman walking past me who was wearing a blouse with such stunning drape that it has inspired me to try to bring it into one of my next designs The colours I will use come from the beauty of a horse that was in the arena, horse and rider as one, as if in flight. Inspiration finds me everywhere.

What is your favourite knitting technique?
I have many techniques I enjoy, to narrow it down to just one is not possible for me. I like to think and hope that there are many that have not even been developed yet and want to be open to trying new things all the time. A favourite technique might pigeonhole my creativity and artistic development so I prefer to be attracted to the appeal of something new, something unexplored by me and yet continuing with the techniques I know I already enjoy.

Do you look at other designers’ work or are you afraid that you will be influenced by their designs?
I love seeing the new designs when they enter the market and am always curious to see what other designers are designing. I suppose realistically we are all somewhat influenced by what we see whether we are directly aware of it or not. A creative mind is open to many areas of influence, not just visually but with all our senses.

How many sample/test knitters do you have working for you or do you do it all yourself?
I don't have sample knitters but I am fortunate to have some great test knitters who are very candid and supportive and will offer helpful criticism and suggestions if necessary. I love seeing their colour/yarn choices and value them greatly.

Did you do a formal business plan?
No, I didn't have a business plan because I wasn't planning to start a business. It simply began by chance. Having been a published quilt designer for many years, I am naturally drawn to colour and texture. I happened upon a lovely skein of hand dyed yarn in my LYS while knitting with the stitch group there. I took it home and spent many hours trying to tame it to create a pooling effect. I was excited to show it to the group when it was finished. I told them it was so much work to develop a way to pool it that I felt as if I had cracked the DaVinci Code. I decided to call it the DaVinci Cowl and set out to write the pattern and see if people on Ravelry liked it. They did and they do so I designed more. I haven't stopped.

Do you have a mentor?
No, I do not have a mentor but have been fortunate to have been able to speak with other designers and ask opinions on certain things. I belong to some designer groups and they have been wonderfully supportive and honest with their suggestions and advice.

Do you have a business model that you have emulated?
Although I do not have a specific business model I do have enough background in business to be able to go in the proper directions and to be able to handle some of the complexities involved with being a business person. I am also willing to be flexible and try different strategies. The world changes rapidly and what was successful yesterday is not the next day.

Do you use a tech editor?

Yes, absolutely. It is important to have more than your own eyes and expertise looking at your written words.

How do you maintain your life/work balance?
Somehow I have always intuitively been able to manage the different areas of my life with success (for the most part). That may come from a strong sense of looking after myself as well as others/things/ responsibilities. We cannot do all we wish to do if we don't take care of our own needs as well.There are times where it is not possible to have true balance but in the big picture things will even out. I have been very busy with building my new design business and my pattern portfolio, also networking and expanding with ideas into future areas.

How do you deal with criticism?
I remind myself that all criticism is ultimately going to teach me something in the end. Sometimes the painful criticisms have taught me the most.

How long did it take for you to be able to support yourself?
I'm not there yet, it has only been a little over one year. It is a self sustaining business already though, so for that I am grateful.

What advice would you give someone who wants to pursue a career in knitting?
Don't design to fill a niche, design to create one. Start somewhere, don't be afraid and be willing to learn along the way.

What’s next for you?
Whichever design comes off the needles next. Ultimately though?....we'll just have to see where this takes me.

No comments:

Post a Comment