Friday, December 22, 2017

An Interview with...Amanda Woeger

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
Amanda here and here on Ravelry.

Where do you find inspiration?
I get knitting inspiration from a variety of sources.  Sometimes it is a nice yarn or color way that gets me thinking. Other times it is shapes and forms I see around me. Sometimes one design just flows into the next with some variation or another. It isn't always easy though, there are times when it is difficult to become inspired, and the design process is long, frustrating and drawn out. I have probably frogged just as much as I have actually knitted! 

What is your favourite knitting technique?

This may sound very strange to some, but I really enjoy playing around with short rows. Why are short rows so great? I enjoy exploring form and shape. Short rows are the tool to work form and shape on a vertical plane of knitted fabric, just as increases and decreases allow for form and shape on a horizontal plane. I use short rows in various ways to make things even more interesting.
Actually, a few years ago, I was someone who absolutely hated short rows. I didn't like how they made my knitting look messy. Then I discovered the shadow wrap method. It is my absolute favorite. I have published a photo tutorial on the shadow wrap method on my blog to help those who may be still afraid of the process.
How many sample/test knitters do you have working for you or do you do it all yourself?
I have a long list of returning testers, whom I can trust. I also welcome new testers, should they be interested. I know that I would not be able to do what I do, without great testers. I hope that if I do become successful, I would be able to offer some sort of compensation to my testers for their hard work and dedication, even if it is only the yarn for their tests.
When designing something new, I do work a sample in my own size. I can use the model to take photos of my work and to ensure that my pattern is well written.  I usually write a pattern and knit it simultaneously. With a garment I need multiple testers to confirm that the fit is good for each size in the pattern. It would be impossible for me to do this all on my own.

Did you do a formal business plan?
No, the business grew organically and started with just one simple pattern in 2012. I didn't know I would come this far, and have no idea where my knitting is taking me. I just know I enjoy the process and want to keep working hard at creating innovative designs and writing great patterns.
Do you have a mentor?
I wouldn't say I have a mentor, but I do admire Joji. She is an independent designer who has made her own name through Ravelry. I respect that and believe that she has put in a lot of hard work to get to where she is now.

Do you have a business model that you have emulated?
Not particularly. My business model is to write good patterns and create interesting designs. It is a passion for me first, business is secondary.
Do you use a tech editor?
My testers are my tech editors. I am bilingual and write most of my patterns in both English and German. I have my German versions edited to ensure they are grammatically correct. 

How do you maintain your life/work balance?
This is, at times, difficult for me. I am a mom of 3 kids, so most of my work time is when they are at school. I struggle with not having enough time to dedicate to the business. However, I also wonder if I spend too much time on it, because the reward (pay) is so small. 
Also, I tend to be a fall/winter knitter and designer.  I do know that I should be working harder in the spring and summer to become more successful. Balancing knitting in the summer with other activities (sailing) is a challenge.
How do you deal with criticism?
I love criticism, so long as it is well intended and polite. I find it very helpful to get feedback from testers and knitters. I like to hear what they think of my designs. I realize that I am only human, and do make mistakes. It is great to have people who actually tell you what they think, so that I am able to grow in the process!

How long did it take for you to be able to support yourself?
I am not (yet?) able to support myself. I would be making more money working part time in a fast food restaurant than I would knitting, and the hours would be much better!
Recently I have decided I needed to make a concerted effort to become a more successful designer. The kids are old enough for me to go back to a "real job". Making knitwear design my career would be a dream come true!  I am hoping that through dedication and hard work in the coming months, I will be able to come closer to achieving my goal of being able to support myself, but I also know it will take time.
What advice would you give someone who wants to pursue a career in knitting?
Be patient and don't give up! Don't expect anything to go viral over night. This happens only for the very lucky few. I have been hoping for this to happen for years, it hasn't. Growth is gradual and building a following over time is essential for a successful career.
What’s next for you?
At the moment, I plan to continue to concentrate on designing great patterns. I have also been in contact with some local independent yarn dyers and will be working together with them. I'm also excited to be exploring the "real" knitting world as opposed to the online "virtual" world. I have been meeting new people and making new friends. I hope to build my circle of real-world knitting friends even further.

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