Friday, October 20, 2017

An Interview with...Elizabeth Felgate

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 Elizabeth here on Ravelry.

Where do you find inspiration?
Often for me, it is a knitting technique that inspires me. I'll come across a new way to do something and think: what can I do with that? Sometimes it is working with a yarn in partnership with independent dyers and sellers: then I have to listen to the yarn for what it wants to be.

What is your favourite knitting technique?.  
I'm very fickle because it is always the newest one I have discovered. Currently, it is the k1 long stitch, because it creates wonderful textures, rather like cables, but without needing a cable needle. I have hat and mitts patterns (The Sweetly Hat and fingerless mitts) just released featuring a rib pattern that I adapted from a traditional stitch using a k1 long maneuver; and I have a pair of house socks (Rills socks) close to release with a custom designed stitch pattern. Last autumn I became enamoured of the contiguous method for top down sweaters and designed a mini collection of sweaters with hybrid constructions that explored what you could do with the basic recipe. This included Long Walks in the Grass, which is a raglan crossed with a contiguous sweater and and Far Roaming a contiguous/saddle shoulder with really interesting short row shaping to drop the middle of the back neck (which can sometimes get a bit high on contiguous sweaters) whilst simultaneously raising it above the front neck and shaping the shoulders.

Do you look at other designers’ work or are you afraid that you will be influenced by their designs? 
I look at them all the time. I don't want to copy other people's work, but there's no harm in absorbing current trends. Also, I find it intriguing to see how things have been done and that can lead to inspiration in a totally different direction. My Artisan sweater for example, which is knit flat, but has no sewn seams, was inspired by a pair of Elizabeth Zimmermann slippers. My gauge less sweaters and cardigans (which really can be knit without achieving a set gauge) were inspired by a shawl construction.

How many sample/test knitters do you have working for you or do you do it all yourself?   
I work with a pool of test knitters, Some of them worked on my first ever test and still come back for more. I feel honoured by that. I do knit at least one sample of every design myself. Sometimes more.

How do you maintain your life/work balance?
Knitting is my second job (I'm a freelance marketing manager and mother of two school age girls in my other lives), so it is sometimes difficult not to feel a bit torn. I don't look at my computer after about 8:30 at night (and only then if I have testers from other time-zones to cross over with). And I don't check stuff on my phone, full stop. Really, the issue of maintaining work/life balance is why a lot of my work is self-published. With self publication I can knit-work when I have time and put it aside when I don't, because the deadlines are all self-driven.

How do you deal with criticism?
I like to receive constructive criticism - especially when I have opened the conversation about something. You don't do a test knit, for example, to ignore the suggestions people make! With angry or uninvited criticism I take a deep breath and try to examine the validity of the complaint. I don't always feel the need to change the way I am working, but I think that you always have to accept that perception is reality, and if someone is upset about something it doesn't help to deny that they have cause. You can't always change something to make them happy, but you can be sympathetic and polite and even make suggestions that might help. Sometimes of course mature reflection shows you that you are indeed in the wrong here, and it is far better to acknowledge that like a grown up and put it right.

What advice would you give someone who wants to pursue a career in knitting?
You'll never know until you try!  Like other creative ventures you have to be realistic that it won't owe you a living. But my experience is that with hard work you can at the very least maximize the amount of time you get to spend doing what you love.

What’s next for you?
Right now I'm writing a book on shawls  - how to knit them and shape them - for Knotions magazine. That is slated for release in late March/April and I'm really excited about that as there is just a wealth of information to share that I don't think you'll find in one place anywhere else (you can email to be put on the notification list when it becomes available). We released one on hats together this autumn and its been a great experience. I've also got a raft of hats due out (I have a big love of gorgeous hat crowns and there a few corkers here) and a big cozy shawl called Braving the Elements. You can keep up to date with my new releases by following me on Instagram - I'm @elizabethfelgate there.

No comments:

Post a Comment