Friday, February 27, 2015

An Interview with...Diane Soucy


http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/-256-basic-vest-for-children


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 Diane here and here on Ravelry. 


Where do you find inspiration?

My patterns are designed to be simple to knit, easy to wear, wardrobe staples. I look at the kinds of things people are wearing every day, and I look at popular catalogs and what is sold in stores also.

What is your favourite knitting technique?
I love fair isle knitting, but cables and lace are my other favorites.

Do you look at other designers’ work or are you afraid that you will be influenced by their designs?
I don't usually look at other designers work, unless it one of my friends, just to see what they are doing.


http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/-991-neck-down-pullover-for-men



How do you feel about the so called controversy of “dumbing down” patterns for knitters?
I have not heard of this controversy. Seems like many designers feel that they "write how they write", and if a knitter can't understand the pattern, it is the knitters fault. I try to write my patterns so that the average knitter can use them comfortably, whether they knit them as written or use them as a template for their own ideas. Coming into designing from working in a yarn shop, I have lots of ideas on how to make patterns easy to understand, with simple techniques. When I helped knitters with problem patterns, I thought many of them were written in a confusing way. I feel that knitters want to knit, not re-write the pattern.

How many sample/test knitters do you have working for you or do you do it all yourself?
I knit the prototype myself, then I have all of my designs test knit by someone else at least twice.

Did you do a formal business plan?
I'm not sure what that is.

Do you have a mentor?
Knitters are my mentors.

http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/1405-long-open-cardigan

Do you have a business model that you have emulated?
I was helped when I first began my business by Bev Galaskes of Fiber Trends. She was very helpful and supportive to a beginner like me.

How are you using social media to grow your business?
I have a business Facebook page, a Twitter account, and a Pinterest account. My graphics person helps me with these.

Do you use a tech editor?
I always send my patterns to 3 different tech editors before they are ready for sale. Its inexpensive insurance against errors.

http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/1406-superbulky-snowsuit-or-jacket

How do you maintain your life/work balance?
I am always at work, but take time for my family whenever I want.

How do you deal with criticism?
I welcome it. Criticism is valuable feedback. I need to know what problems knitters are having with the patterns, so that I can change it if I can. If the criticism is not from someone that has used one of my patterns, I don't really pay attention to it.

http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/a-line-hoodie

How long did it take for you to be able to support yourself?
I began publishing in 1997, and by 2003 I was making more money than my mechanic husband. Having a good distributor with sales reps was a key to this.

What advice would you give someone who wants to pursue a career in knitting?
Knitting or writing patterns for publication? If you are writing patterns for publication, take classes and read all you can before you begin. Have your work test knitted and professionally edited. If knitters feel they can trust your work, they will buy your patterns. Design what knitters want, not only what you want to design.

What’s next for you?
Four new designs for fall 2015!

http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/-9730-childrens-neck-down-pullover




Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Knitting as Meditation


I'll be teaching a guided knitting meditation twice this April. Once here and again here

Years ago I was working on a very complex piece of knitted lace, which had patterning on both sides. While I was able to memorize some of the rows or read the previous row and work by following the patterns shapes quite a few of the transition rows required line by line reading of the pattern. It was one of those projects that I had to work on by myself in a quiet place with no interruptions. I found the intense focus lead to what the positive psychologist Mihály Csíkszentmihályi describes as flow which is “a state of concentration or complete absorption with the activity at hand and the situation. It is a state in which people are so involved in an activity that nothing else seems to matter.” 

Fast forward to a few years ago and I started reading up on establishing a meditation practice. I've gone to some guided meditations and found more on YouTube that I could do at home. Attaining a daily practice can be challenging in a busy life which lead me to trying a variety of types of meditation. Some of those focus simple mindfulness during daily life.

In an online survey of  knitters, conducted by a knitting therapist, Betsan Corkhill, reported that knitting left them feeling "very happy." Many knitters said that they did so, purely for the relaxation, stress relief and opportunity to be creative.

Using knitting to achieve a meditative state of mind often happens as a natural side-effect of  the process. 

In preparing to give the guided meditation I've just finished reading Mindful Knitting by Tara Jon Manning. If you are interested in trying a knitting meditation on your own this would be an excellent place to start.

 

Monday, February 23, 2015

Woolly Woofers by Debbie Bliss




I've received a copy of Debbie Bliss' new book Woolly Woofers to review. It's so whimsical and charming I almost wish cats would tolerate being dressed up the way dogs seem to do so cheerfully for our entertainment. 



The illustrations, by Jo Clark really caught my eye first. They set off the photos of the 22 designs beautifully.




When I wrote this post the book had not yet been added to Ravelry so I'll give you an Amazon link instead. 



There's a full range of designs requiring a variety of skills from novice to advanced. Some would make great small projects for skill building techniques you might not yet have tried out.






Friday, February 20, 2015

An Interview with...Lacie Lynnae



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 Lacie here and here on Ravelry. 


http://30daysweater.com/product/antonio-sweater-pattern/



Where do you find inspiration?
I find inspiration in all sorts of different places but I absolutely love to look at architecture and interesting plants. It might not seem like those two things relate to knitting, but if I see a cool old building it gets me dreaming about the types of things people wore when it was first built. As for plants, I love the beautiful shapes and repetition that exists naturally. Lets just say symmetry makes me happy.

What is your favourite knitting technique?
I'm a sucker for finishing techniques! I really love a nice looking hem but that's not very interesting. As far as actual knitting goes, I think that mosaic knitting is awesome.

Do you look at other designers’ work or are you afraid that you will be influenced by their designs?
I think it is really important to look at other designers work because everyone is influenced by designs whether it is on the street, on the runway or on Ravelry. If you are going to be influenced anyway, it is smart to look at designers that you admire (even if you're not in the same industry). I love looking at fashion magazines to see how designers are using color and form this season, but I also enjoy just sitting outside and checking out people's street style and how they are wearing clothing in general. To me, being a creative person and a designer is just the process of curating visual inspiration and then translating that into my personal take on knitwear.

How do you feel about the so called controversy of “dumbing down” patterns for knitters? 

Personally, I love knitting and if I need to do a lot of in-depth explanations to make my patterns more accessible to more people so that they can enjoy knitting too, I'm all for it. I understand that in this day and age we didn't all learn to knit at age three, so maybe we need to add some extra explanations to our patterns. However, I try not to shy away from using more advanced techniques in my work, especially if I am using that technique for a specific reason. In those cases I just try to be particularly vigilant about providing detailed instructions or videos to make the process as enjoyable as possible.

How many sample/test knitters do you have working for you or do you do it all yourself?

I like to do a lot of the knitting myself but with a new baby around sometimes that just isn't that practical. These days I do have a very talented young lady who knits up some samples for me.


http://30daysweater.com/product/victoria-sweater-pattern/


Did you do a formal business plan? 

I don't have a written business plan but I definitely have a detailed strategy for the 30 Day Sweater brand and where I'd like to see it go in the next 5 years.

Do you have a mentor?
Not formally but I really look up to Trisha Malcom and Erika Knight.

Do you have a business model that you have emulated?

I haven't implemented everything yet but I am working on a model that is very much inspired by the book Ready, Fire, Aim and by the work of Ryan Deiss at Digital Marketer.

How are you using social media to grow your business? 

Not much actually. We have found that social media doesn't really convert to sales very well and so instead we opt to use our email list to market directly to the people who are for sure interested in what we're doing. We are going to start experimenting with Facebook advertising in the near future, but I don't really consider that the same thing.


How do you maintain your life/work balance?
I am fortunate that I get to work alongside my husband and that we have a fairly relaxed environment that we can bring our daughter along to work with us. Usually we just try not to work once we're home and make sure to get out at least once a week with friends or family. It also helps that we get to walk together to and from our workspace together every day so we can chat and practice our French lessons.

How long did it take for you to be able to support yourself? 

This is an interesting question simply because both my husband and I run knitting websites. We started with his website New Stitch A Day in January 2011. We were supporting ourselves full-time with his website after two years. 30 Day Sweater started as a product that we launched to his audience in May of 2013 and we launched the website in October of that year. It was profitable from day one because we already had a platform audience to work from.

What advice would you give someone who wants to pursue a career in knitting? 

Start getting people on your email list right now! Having a platform (your email list) to share your content from is key to beginning to make sales. Also I would say to start talking to some people who run different sorts of businesses in the industry. Take some notes on how they became successful and what sorts of things they wouldn't do again. Learning from the mistakes and successes of other people could potentially save you a ton of time, effort and money.




http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/marcella-evening-gown

What’s next for you?
Hopefully a print version of my book The 30 Day Sweater! And I am currently working on a new version of the book that walks you through the process of making a seamed, set-in sleeve sweater to fit you perfectly and can also be completed in 30 days. I think that offering a more advanced but still very "do-able" option instead of just the raglan style sweater of the first book will be really exciting for a lot of knitters!


http://30daysweater.com/product/erin-sweater-pattern/

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

The Deirdre Henderson Cardigan

I've published a new pattern. This is it!




There's lots of fun texture to work in this one. The small cables are created with twisted stitches so you don't need a cable needle for those. The big cable has extra texture created with a seed stitch section. I've been wearing this one a lot in the very cold weather we are getting right now in Toronto.

 


Monday, February 16, 2015

YarnOver SleepOver Retreat



Our plans for the next retreat are starting to come together. We meet once a month to review the work required and share it out across the group members. 

New for this year is Happy Hour Happenings (link to the website)

Or click on the image for a larger version.



I'm running a guided knitting meditation. I've been meditating for about two years. I've read extensively on the topic and attended guided meditations. I'm excited to share this practice in a knitting format. I think it will be a perfect end to a day of intense classroom time for our attendees.