Friday, August 31, 2018

An Interview with...Paola Albergamo

Graffiti (

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
Paola here on Ravelry.

Where do you find inspiration?
I have two main sources of inspiration, depending on whether I'm working on an accessory or on a garment. 

In accessories, I am mostly inspired by contemporary abstract art. This is particularly true when we speak about shawls, which I imagine as wearable paintings made with yarn. I love seeing color, harmony and shapes in pictures, paintings, street art and graffiti, and I try to convey this kind of inspiration in my patterns.
When I'm working on garments, I'm interested in wearability for - I confess! - my body shape. I have a sewing background, and I love translating sewing model making into knitting: it poses a lot of geometric/math problems that I like to solve, it's like playing with puzzles!
In both cases, I love unconventional and unusual constructions, bright colors and strong contrasts.
I am by no means a minimalist, I want my creations to be noticed, because they are different from anything you can buy in a shop.

What is your favourite knitting technique?
When following others' designs, I love every technique. Cable, lace, colorwork, you name it!
When designing I'd say that short rows, modular knitting, and brioche (not necessarily in this order) are the techniques that I use more often and that I feel more natural to me. 

Gocce (

Do you look at other designers’ work or are you afraid that you will be influenced by their designs?
I think that it is simply impossible not to look at other designers' work!
I try to follow what's going on in the knitting world, with the intention of excluding the ideas that have been already "used" by others.

How many sample/test knitters do you have working for you or do you do it all yourself?
I knit my samples myself, because I like the process and because I often change my mind on some details (and yes, sometimes on the entire construction!) while knitting. I know that this is slowing down my productivity, but I enjoy this freedom so much!
I use as many test knitters I can, to be sure that my patterns are correct. I know many say that a tech editor is enough, but I am a former software developer and I cannot even think that an algorithm (a knitting pattern can surely be interpreted as an algorithm) can work if not thoroughly tested. And I love testing! It is like a mini-KAL.

Do you have a mentor?
No, unfortunately.
Did you do a formal business plan?
No, nothing formal. I started designing while still working as a programmer and didn't take it too seriously. Then I lost my job and simply continued working as a designer.
I studied about this industry and have plans, but nothing formal.
Do you have a business model that you have emulated?

Do you use a tech editor?
Yes, but I'm still searching for a stable work relationship.
I don't know if I am expecting too much from a TE, but I feel that I've not found the one who can understand my patterns and correct them without actually knitting them as a test knitter does.
How do you maintain your life/work balance?
Well, my life is very simple: I don't have kids and work from home. And still have problems!
I'm probably very bad at this, and I cannot share any clever thought. On the contrary, I'm looking for advice!

How do you deal with criticism?
I think that criticism is growth. Even the meanest criticism is a feedback and as such it can help you understand what others want/expect from your patterns. And it is always a good occasion to have contacts with your public! 

The Prism Effect (

How long did it take for you to be able to support yourself?
Well, I'm not sure I'm there yet. I knew from the beginning that this can take time, I'm not disappointed. I love the work that I'm doing and I'm slowly but continuously growing, what else could I ask for?
What advice would you give someone who wants to pursue a career in knitting?
Patience, and a lot of work. Success never comes overnight and pattern writing is much more complex than many knitters think. Turning a passion into a career is not easy, sometimes it will feel like a "normal job". So my advice is to find your own personal happy routine, to bring the joy even in the dullest part of this work.  

Vanishing Point (will be published in September)

What’s next for you?
Last year I worked mainly for third party publications, and it was really satisfying and fun: I learned a lot about pattern writing and I had the possibility to stretch my creativity in many ways. Now I want to focus on self-publishing, because I have many personal ideas that I know are not suitable for magazine publishing. I'd love to participate in collective events, such as the GAL or the Happiness Make-A-Long, because they are fun! I really enjoy them as a wonderful occasion to work with other talented designers and make friends, and, finally, they work very well for me!

Reptile Skin (

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