Friday, February 18, 2011

An Interview with...Heather Dixon

Heather Dixon

Once a week I post  interviews with interesting designers about their insights on their experience of working in the Knitting industry.  I’ve noticed that every designer makes their living in a slightly different manner bringing their own unique presence to the Knitting world.  

You can find Heather here  and here on Ravelry.

Photos by  Jason Riker - model Ashley H.
Where do you find inspiration?
There is no one place where I find inspiration. I design my collections with a theme in mind, each season I'm drawn strongly to a story that I express through my knitting. For the collections I'm working on at the moment my stories are Flamenco for Spring and the film, Pretty Baby for Summer. I'm currently attracted to all things connected with the late Victorian era, especially the under garments so my Summer collection is heavily inspired by corsets, bustles and nighties.

What is your favourite knitting technique?
I don't think I have a particular favourite but I do love manipulating stitches with cables. I'm also a huge fan of fair isle, which you can except to see a lot more of in my future designs.

How did you determine your size range?

That all depends on the garment style but I usually work around 30" -  50" chest. I don't use S-M-L etc. I give the garment's finished size and let the knitter decide which size would fit them best. I also include a detailed schematic in my patterns.

Do you look at other designers' work or are you afraid that you will be influenced by their designs?
I don't think I look at other designers' work as much as I used to - I don't have the time!  I love to look at clothes of all kinds, be they new, vintage, knitted or woven. One of my most successful patterns from my Precious collection was heavily influenced by an old Oscar de la Renta design. It was a commissioned piece for a friend and it would never have been designed if it wasn't for her.

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

I wasn't aware that there was a controversy! I do, however, try to make my patterns as clear and easy to follow as possible. Much more so than the ones I followed when I was learning to knit.

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

I knit all of the samples for my collections myself. It usually takes 3 to 4 months to complete a collection. Test knitters use their own yarn and I only see the finished object in photographs. I have at least one test knitter for each size, per design.

Did you do a formal business plan?

No!  I did tell myself that I would not make any money in the first year of business. The aim for my second year is to break even. (My photography and model costs are rather high.)

Do you have a mentor?
No. I have always been very headstrong and self sufficient.

Do you have a business model that you have emulated?

What impact has the Internet had on your business?

I would not have attempted to do what I do without the Internet. It's where over 90% of my business comes from.

Do you use a Tech Editor?
Yes, although I find I need their services less and less as I get better at pattern writing.

How do you maintain your life/work balance?

There is no balance. I work every moment that I am able. My social life is limited to quick email chats!

How do you deal with criticism?

I have been lucky in that the only real criticism that I have found has been about my photo shoot styling. It's usually from individuals who just don't understand the world of fashion. I tend to just shrug them off. I started this business with the idea that my designs would be presented in a way that would fit into any high-fashion magazine. I've seen enough fuddy-duddy styled knitwear shoots to last several lifetimes. I receive a lot of support and praise from my customers who are very happy to have knit patterns that are fashion-forward and refreshingly new.

How long did it take for you to be able to support yourself?
I hope to start making a profit in my third year of business.

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

My advice is to make sure that you do something that you really love. Life is too short to spend being unhappy.

Photos by  Jason Riker - model Ashley H.

Photos by  Jason Riker - model Ashley H.

1 comment:

  1. Your designs are amazing very modern and up to date (very refreshing) they're the kind of designs that make you want to become a knitter. I'm just learning to knit and look forward to make many of your projects (hopefully in the near future) :)