|This is a soon to be published design. Check Michelle's Ravelry page.|
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 Michelle here, and here on Ravelry.
Where do you find inspiration?
I find inspiration everywhere, really. I’ve always been interested in fashion so that’s a big source of my inspiration. I am also inspired by things I see on TV, in magazines, online at sites like Pinterest and Ravelry, and just in my general surroundings.
What is your favourite knitting technique?
That changes for me frequently. I love to learn, so my favourite technique is usually whatever I am learning at the moment. It can also be a seasonal thing. In fall and winter I love ribbing and cables. In spring and summer I fall back in love with lace.
Do you look at other designers’ work or are you afraid that you will be influenced by their designs?
I definitely look at the work of other designers. It inspires me to strive to do my best work and it keeps me abreast of what is current. I don’t think I could design without being aware of what is happening in the industry around me. I am also always learning from others. Knitting someone else’s pattern teaches me so much about pattern writing, knitting techniques, and design.
How do you feel about the so called controversy of “dumbing down” patterns for knitters?
That’s an interesting discussion, for sure. I know knitters of an older generation who knit from very vague patterns (or no pattern at all) and are very happy doing that. They have their own favourite techniques and lots of experience and can create an item that is unique to them. It used to be more common for new knitters to learn directly from those experienced knitters. But today, we learn more from books, the internet, and magazines. So more detailed, step-by-step patterns make knitting accessible to new knitters and that’s also a good thing. I think there is room in the knitting pattern market for both kinds of pattern and it’s wonderful that there is so much choice.
How many sample/test knitters do you have working for you or do you do it all yourself?
I knit all of my samples myself. That’s part of the fun! But I have a group of wonderful test knitters in my Ravelry group who test my patterns before they are published.
Did you do a formal business plan?
When I first started publishing my paid patterns I did do a business plan of sorts. I wouldn’t call it formal! In a creative business it can be tricky to balance the love and passion of creating what I want with smart business decisions that will increase profit and grow the business. So I follow a skeleton plan and try very hard not to get sidetracked with too many projects that don’t fit the plan!
Do you have a mentor?
I do not have a mentor, no.
Do you have a business model that you have emulated?
Not really, but I do pay attention to how other designers run their businesses. This was especially the case when I started out. I find inspiration in the ways that other designers have become successful and how they stay successful.
How are you using social media to grow your business?
I’m working on that. I’m not a very outgoing person so I have to push myself to get out there on social media. I am getting more and more comfortable, though. I have a Ravelry group, Facebook Page, Twitter account, and Pinterest account. I use them for promoting new pattern releases, connecting with knitters, and sharing news.
Do you use a tech editor?
Yes and no. I no longer use a tech editor for small, simple accessory patterns, especially if they are similar to patterns I have previously published. But for more complicated designs, I do. Anything with lace, shaping, or multiple sizes requires tech editing.
How do you maintain your life/work balance?
That’s a great question. Right now I am taking time off from my full-time job in education. When I was working it was so hard to fit designing in with work, family, and other commitments. With this time off I expected to spend every day designing. It hasn’t really worked out that way. I think I was more productive when I worked full-time! What it has taught me is that balance is hard to find no matter what is happening in my life. It’s about prioritizing, making choices, and not pressuring myself.
How do you deal with criticism?
I haven’t received a lot of criticism in my designing work. I do know, however, that it is really important to not take criticism too personally. If criticism is constructive and well-intentioned, then it can help me grow and learn. But if it is mean-spirited then it’s about the other person, not me.
How long did it take for you to be able to support yourself?
I’m not there yet, but it is a goal of mine! At this stage in my life and because of where I live, it’s not going to happen right now. The cost of living is very high here and it is somewhat isolated. To make a living in this field, I would need to diversify and there are limited opportunities for teaching and travel is expensive. So for now, I am focusing on self-publishing only. In addition, I am still raising a family - teenagers are expensive!
What advice would you give someone who wants to pursue a career in knitting?
A career in knitting is only possible if someone is passionate about it. It is slow, not profitable at first, and time-intensive. It takes dedication and passion! Having said that, it is very rewarding for anyone who wants to express themselves creatively through knitting.
What’s next for you?
Right now I am learning all about sweater design. I am reading, taking Craftsy classes, knitting sweater patterns, and sketching my ideas. I am very excited to try my hand at sweater design. It’s a logical next step for me, I think. I also want to branch out at some point from just self-publishing my designs and try submitting to publications. We’ll see what happens!