Friday, April 6, 2018

An Interview with...Tatsiana Matsiuk


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
Tatsiana here and here on Ravelry. 

You can find her other social media links here:

Where do you find inspiration?
My biggest inspirations are my two lovely daughters. Most of my designs are created especially for them. I really love seeing them wearing beautiful and bright knitted hats, dresses and cardigans made with love for them. They enjoy modelling my knitting too.

I also find my inspiration in my knit books and stash of yarn. I just look through the stitch patterns another time and come up with a new idea. Another time I’ve got a yarn I want to knit with and an idea of a new garment (style, shape, some details) in my head and looking for the stitch in my books. Sometimes I can find the inspiration in simple phrase or word. For example, the inspiration for two of my designs:

My Crown Beanie and Cowl Set,

and Cable Crown Hat and Cowl Set.

Each design came from the phrase “every little girl is mum’s princess”. So I decided to create couple of hats with an imitation of a princess crown. While I was knitting swatches I made up about five different cables for it and then decided to use the two most appealing ones.

What is your favourite knitting technique?
I love knitting lace stitches for summer garments and cables for winter ones. I also like learning new techniques and using them in my new designs. So I guess, I don’t have a favourite one.

Do you look at other designers’ work or are you afraid that you will be influenced by their designs?
Absolutely! I love seeing other people knitting and following their creative way. Particularly, for those of them who I remember started as hobbyist and over years of their knitting journey became popular knitwear designer, teacher or yarn dyer. I love reading their stories of success, they inspire me to follow my own way further, improve my skills and discover new techniques.

For example, I used to ignore variegated and melange yarn for many years and preferred a solid colours yarn for my designs. I wasn’t good in multi-colour knitting too. But after discovering indie yarn dyes and some designers I’ve started making some steps in this direction. My Colour Fantasy shawl is my first attempt in combining colours and yarn textures (The photo is at the top of this post).

Another example, I used to knit with Sport and DK types of yarn a lot and ignore the idea of using thick chunky or bulky yarn. But after I discovered a couple of designers who knit with thick yarn and brands of chunky yarn I’ve tried to use it in my designs too. I've fallen in love with this type of yarn. It creates really beautiful textures like the one in my Fancy Twist Hat and Cowl Set:

You can see another in the Gear Cardigan, which I designed for my husband.

How many sample/test knitters do you have working for you or do you do it all yourself?
I always knit my first sample by myself. Sometimes it takes number of re-knits to get the proper result and good fit. Sometimes I even change the yarn to a more suitable one as it can look good in stitch swatch but doesn’t look good in the finished item. After the first sample is knitted and I’m happy with it I write the pattern and then depending on the design I can knit a second sample by myself or open the test knit on Ravelry. I use two groups, Free Pattern Testers and Testing pool for my test knits and my goal is the have at least two test knitters per size. 

I also work with Mary Maxim Yarn Company closely. Some of my patterns are sold in their knitting kits. Before creating kits their test knitters also test my patterns.

Did you do a formal business plan?
I have a list of projects I plan to make this year and plan of steps to follow but my project list can be changed depending on inspiration and new ideas which I need to try “right now” so I don’t think I can call this plan as “a formal business plan”.

Do you have a mentor?
No, I don’t have a mentor but I have a very supportive husband who helps me through my knitting journey and helps me to go ahead if I’m stuck.

Do you have a business model that you have emulated?

Do you use a tech editor?
Yes, all my patterns are tech edited.

How do you maintain your life/work balance?
This is most difficult moment in my self-career.  As a mom of two little girls (two and four years old) I need to give a lot of my attention and time to my kids and family. So I have to be very organized. Most of my designer work is done while they are sleeping. Luckily they love playing together so sometimes I can answer urgent emails while they are busy with their toys and each other. Part of my work, such as taking photos can be done while we are walking around and having fun as a family. My girls are my best models and my husband is a great photographer for my designs so we can do some unplanned photo shooting.

How do you deal with criticism?
I'm open to constructive criticism and appreciate the knitter’s feedback if it is expressed in a polite manner. I ignore rude people and do not go down to their level of communication.

How long did it take for you to be able to support yourself?
I published my first paid pattern in September 2013. Now I have over 100 designs. I started writing my patterns as a hobby before I left my job. It was a good idea to have extra money to buy the yarn and other craft suppliers. It took me about four years to allow myself to be self-employed knitwear designer while enjoying looking after my kids and family. I can’t say that I’ve already reached the desired level of income from my knitting but it is a tangible part of our family income. Especially because as “work from home mama” I can save on childcare costs too.

What advice would you give someone who wants to pursue a career in knitting?
Follow your dream and start taking some steps in this direction. You would never know the result if you wouldn’t try. But be ready to work hard and learn a lot of new subjects and aspects of  a self-career. A knitting career is not just the fun of knitting and creating. It also involves self-promotion, communication with different people, customer support, luck of free time, accounting and etc.
Back in 2017 I wrote a post in my blog “Behind the scene: the cost of knitting or crochet pattern” where I explained my process. It can help new crafters to understand some aspects of this job, give some idea where to start and what to expect. The link to the blog post:

What’s next for you?
There are a lot of plans and projects ahead. First of all, I need to finish writing patterns for some of my finished projects. I’ve got about six completed projects so far, a couple on my needles and so many in my draft book. I plan to learn couple of new techniques for my next projects, start my Ravelry and FB groups. I also have life changing event coming soon which, I’m sure, will make a big impact not just in my private life but in my knitting career too. But I’ll keep it in secret for a while.

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