Friday, April 21, 2017

An Interview with...Willow and Sasha (Knox Mountain Knit Co.)

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 Knox Mountain Knit Co. here and here on Ravelry.

Where do you find inspiration?  
Sasha: I love the outdoors! So I definitely find inspiration in nature and in the beautiful region in which I live, the Okanagan Valley of BC. In fact, that's the whole premise of Knox Mountain Knit Co. We aim to name our patterns after what their inspiration came from. In each pattern, we write a little paragraph about this, so that knitters can have a connection to the pattern and place.

Could you tell us a little about your company name change and how it came about? 
Sasha: We were formerly known as Okanagan Knit Co. Since the company members changed in January 2017 we decided to change our name and start fresh.  

One of our most popular patterns was a hat called 'Knox', with an all-around mountain motif, named after our local Knox Mountain. We chose the name Knox Mountain Knit Co. in honor of that. 

What is your favourite knitting technique?
Sasha: That's like asking a music lover what their favorite song is! How can one choose? But seriously though if I had to choose one, the first that comes to mind is cables.  I've also done a wee bit of colourwork/intarsia/fair-isle and I'm definitely interested learning more about it! Maybe even a pattern one day!

Willow: This changes constantly! I’m always on the lookout for new ways to do old things.

Do you look at other designers’ work or are you afraid that you will be influenced by their designs?
Sasha: Yes! I want to support them as much as I can. I want to knit all the things! I sometimes choose a special pattern and knit it just for me to get my mind off of thinking about new designs 24/7. 

Willow: We also keep an eye on other designers because we don’t want to put out a design that looks like a copy! Sometimes we will come up with a great idea and then check Ravelry and someone else has already done it. Social media also makes it pretty hard to not know what is going on in the knitting world. My Instagram feed is full of amazing designs from other designers!

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

Willow: Usually the process is that one of us will come up with a design and knit it, then the other one of us will knit it and suggest tweaks, then we will send it out for testing. We aim for five-ten testers per design, and have a couple of really lovely knitters who have tested for us on almost every design so far. Testers are such an integral part of the process! They manage to catch things that Sasha and I miss even after knitting the pattern a few times. Sasha ends up knitting most of the samples because she can bang out four shawls in the time it takes me to knit one!

Do you have a mentor?
Sasha: Yes! Taiga Hilliard. I used to do test knitting for her and although we've never met in real life we have become close friends. Test knitting for her has taught me a lot about knitting because it forced me to try new things and pushed me out of my comfort zone. Taiga has given me the best advice and has encouraged me every step of the way! I feel blessed to have a great friend in her.  

I'd also say Willow is my mentor. We bounce ideas off of each other and have no problem saying if we like it or dislike it, or if there is a better way of doing things. We are a great team and don't easily get offended with each other. I look at constructive criticism as feedback not failure!

Willow: I do have a few knitting friends who I turn to for knitting advice often (Sasha included!). It is so helpful to be able to bounce ideas off someone. Sometimes you hit a point where everything just seems like the worst idea ever, but a fresh set of ideas can come up with something brilliant! Every design we do is a compilation, and I think it really makes our designs shine! We put the best of both of us into each one.

Do you use a tech editor?
Sasha: Willow is the tech editor! And she's REALLY good at it! She's highly efficient and makes our PDF’s look gorgeous and professional. She takes really great photos too! She's a Jane of all trades.

Willow: I don't consider myself an actual tech editor, but I am figuring out a lot as we go!

How do you maintain your life/work balance? Sasha: There is NO balance, ha-ha! I think about knitting/designing all day everyday. I think about it when I wake up, when I drink my morning coffee, when I'm driving to the grocery store, when I'm making dinner, when I'm exercising, when I'm watching TV, even when I'm sleeping. I would love to quit my day job and just design and knit all day.

Willow: I haven’t figured this out yet. My day job is my young children, and they take up a lot of my time, but I try to sneak in knitting whenever I can! And then I usually stay up way too late knitting and then regret it in the morning.

How do you deal with criticism?

Sasha: I haven’t come across much. People in the knitting community are quite lovely! But if I did, I tried my best to always be kind. And try to remember not everyone is going to like you and that's OK. We all have different likes and dislikes in life. It's what makes us unique!

Willow: I try to just tell myself that most people really are just trying to help, even if it doesn’t come across that way. That being said, so far, the knitting community has been so great and supportive, and any criticism we have encountered has been fairly mild!

How long did it take for you to be able to support yourself? Sasha: I never got into this for the money, but if I make some in the process it means more money for yarn! We are having a lot of fun and enjoying the journey and if we can make a few bucks and great friends along the way then I'm happy.

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

Sasha: Anything is possible! If you think of a concept, write it down and figure out a way to make it happen. I don't consider myself a designer. I'm just a girl who wants to create cool things that I want to wear!

What’s next for you?
Sasha: We are getting very excited for Knit City this year! We've booked a booth (our first one ever) and have an exciting collaboration going with one of our favorite Indie Dyers! Stay tuned!

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