Friday, May 4, 2012

An Interview with...Myra Wood

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 Myra here and here on Ravelry.
Where do you find inspiration?
Mainly from teaching and interacting with the fiber community online and through my local guild. I get so excited sharing the love we all have for sticks and string.

What is your favourite knitting technique?
That's a toss-up. I love the ease and speed of Russian knitting. It's great for even tension and much easier on my wrists. I also think backwards knitting is a wonderful tool to have handy for entrelac and other styles where a lot of turning is involved. Then there's lace knitting and freeform…top down raglans… should I go on? And then there's crocheting! I think one of the best techniques any knitter can learn is how to crochet. It opens up a whole new world of possibilities. I like to remind's ALL sticks and string.

Do you look at other designers' work or are you afraid that you will be influenced by their designs?
I look at everything! I think absorbing as much as you can is part of the creative process. I look at regular fashion blogs and go mall shopping all the time to see how things are constructed.  I'm addicted to Ravelry. To me, creativity isn't about reinventing the wheel. It's about combining and translating everything we see around us through our own eyes and putting our own spin on it.

How do you feel about the so called controversy of "dumbing down" patterns for knitters?
I design garments I want to wear and write them accordingly. Sometimes they're easy, sometimes they're complicated depending on how many techniques are involved. I write patterns for all levels of knitters so it really depends on the design, not the audience. I stopped designing for publications that request a specific garment in a specific style written a specific way. That's way too boring. I have too many of my own ideas I want to explore. I love a good challenge.

How many sample/test knitters do you have working for you or do you do it all yourself?
One of the reasons I limit how much I publish is so that I can work on the designs myself. I often find better ways to construct something as I knit or crochet so doing the work myself is integral to the design process.

What impact has the Internet had on your business?
The internet and Ravelry specifically was a paradigm shift for the fiber world. Before Ravelry, actually before the internet, it was very hard to network and connect with other knitters or people in the industry. The only way to personally interact was at the consumer and trade shows.
I'm primarily a teacher so I love having direct contact with people. I would meet people wherever I'd teach but I'd lose contact soon after a class. Now it's very easy for anyone to see where and what I'm teaching through sites like The other amazing thing is online teaching! I can now connect and teach people globally with
The internet has made all the difference! 

Do you use a tech editor?
Absolutely! If I'm self-publishing I actually use two. There's no way to publish a proper pattern without tech editing. You can never see all of your own mistakes.

How do you maintain your life/work balance?
My life is my work. I don't have kids and my husband is an artist so he understands my obsessive need to have something in my hands. If I'm not working on a specific project, I'd still be knitting or crocheting so I might as well have a purpose for the end product. I do find that I need to limit my traveling so that I can stay creative and inspired. I cut down the amount of time I spend on the road and give myself breaks of at least a month in between to recharge.

How do you deal with criticism?
Criticism's never fun but I try and remember not to take it personally. I listen to what's being said and first try to determine the motivation behind it. If it's valid, I'm all ears. I'm always open to growing. But if it's just snark, then I try and let it roll off my back.

How long did it take for you to be able to support yourself?
I'm not sure how long it took but it was years and more importantly it's from various directions. The whole key for me is diversifying and having lots going on. By combining book publishing, teaching, designing for other publications, tv appearances, etc I'm able to have a revenue stream that works for me. That takes a while to build up.

What advice would you give someone who wants to pursue a career in knitting? 
Don't expect overnight success. It takes a long time to build a career so initially continue to do what you've been doing for an income. Be patient but be tenacious. Keep working at it and it will happen if you really want it to.  

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