Friday, May 18, 2018

An Interview with...Gabrielle Vézina

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
Gabrielle here and here on Ravelry.

Where do you find inspiration?
I find inspiration everywhere. Sometimes in a TV show, sometimes in a store, sometimes just walking outside or watching the rain falling. I try to stay open to new ideas so they find their way into my mind.

What is your favourite knitting technique?
I enjoy a variety of techniques, from lace to cables, and different colorwork techniques. I like texture and I like to combine a few techniques in the same project. Colorwork is probably what I prefer, and I find Fair Isle to be especially stunning. Sadly, I think it's a difficult technique and now, after knitting a lot of Fair Isle projects, I'm just starting to really enjoy the process. More recently, I appreciate mosaic knitting because it's so much easier than Fair Isle, and the results can also be very interesting. It's a good compromise for an easy and enjoyable colorwork project.

Do you look at other designers’ work or are you afraid that you will be influenced by their designs?
Let's be honest, we are surrounded by amazing designs and it's impossible not to see and like them! I think that artists from the same discipline are always influencing the other ones, but as our creations are coming from our hearts and minds, shaped by our very own experiences and feelings, the results are personal and unique.

How many sample/test knitters do you have working for you or do you do it all yourself?
I knit my own samples, but I have an army of test knitters who knit my patterns, find mistakes, help me with my English as it's my second language, comment, give improvement ideas, etc. Most of my patterns have been knit by 10 to 25 people before the pattern was actually released! It's very fun, we do this as mini KALs and we chat and knit, and I feel like my patterns are much better because of their help.

Did you do a formal business plan?
No, but I have a couple of set goals. It's my second business and I like this one to be flexible and rewarding, so I keep my expectations low enough to be happy in the end.

Do you have a mentor?
No, but I followed Tara Swiger's Lift Off program and I found it immensely interesting. It made me feel more in control of my business.

Do you have a business model that you have emulated?
No, I wished there were more data about knitting pattern designers but I can't find much.

Do you use a tech editor?
Usually, no, because of my amazing test knitters! They do the tech editing job beautifully!

How do you maintain your life/work balance?
To be honest, I'm not the best at it. My days right now start with sleepless nights as my 16-months-old baby never enjoyed sleeping more than 3 hours in a row, I take care of her until nap time, then I fit as much work as I can during her nap, take care of her until bedtime, and fit as much work as I can until my own bedtime. That's what I do, 7 days a week. I made the choice of keeping her home with me and I don't want to sacrifice my knitting career either, so my personal life is suffering a little. Before I know it, she'll be at school and having sleepovers, so I'll have all the free time I want then. Until then, I'm cherishing the time spent with her and how lucky I am to have found a way to witness her amazing evolution while keeping up with my own passion.


How do you deal with criticism?
I deal very well with constructive criticism. Actually, I'm looking for it, as a way to learn and improve myself.

How long did it take for you to be able to support yourself?
Right now, my first career as a Web Developer is giving me about 2/3 of my income, while my career in pattern design is taking 2/3 of my work time! I know that if I had more time to work and that I could work full time on my designs now, after 6 years of activity, I'd be able to make a living out of it. I'll probably do it as soon as baby's in school, but at the moment, it's more convenient to keep splitting my work time on both areas.

What advice would you give someone who wants to pursue a career in knitting?
Believe in yourself, and then, work hard! It must be your ultimate passion and you must invest yourself 100% into it. It's not easy for anyone, but if you really really want to make it, give everything you have to give, and you will succeed.

What’s next for you?
I have so many ideas, mostly colorwork. I want to knit more sweaters and more baby items. And I won't stop designing shawls because I love it! I’ll just keep going on with the flow of my creativity, and we’ll see where it leads!

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