Friday, February 17, 2017

An Interview with...Jenny Faifel

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 Jenny here and here on Ravelry. She can be found on Instagram as @sweaterfreakknits

Where do you find inspiration?
I find it everywhere but two sources really jump out: fashion mags and shows and my own love for math and geometry. There is a also a huge factor of wearability - first and foremost the knitted garment or accessory has to be wearable. I generally do not design what I wouldn't wear myself.
What is your favourite knitting technique?
I have two! Kitchener grafting and knitting on the bias.
Do you look at other designers’ work or are you afraid that you will be influenced by their designs?
We all are influenced by other designers' work. I think in today's knitting community where everyone is out on display, it's hard to not notice what others are doing. But every single designer, myself included, always puts their own layer onto an existing idea and so on so forth. It's all part of the creative process!
How many sample/test knitters do you have working for you or do you do it all yourself?
I knit my own samples and then I generally have 6-10 test knitters depending on the test. I feel that testing is an absolute must because it really gives me the opportunity to see whether my pattern is knittable or not. I do the rest myself!

Did you do a formal business plan?
No, not really. I just knit what I feel like knitting and sometimes it works out!
Do you have a mentor?
I have two close knitting friends that are also designers and we all mentor each other and bounce off ideas. It's actually one of the best part of it all!
Do you have a business model that you have emulated?
No. I do what feels right, but that doesn't quite qualify as a business model, does it?

Do you use a tech editor?
How do you maintain your life/work balance?
Family comes first. I have a 4 year old that is that awesome stage where they learn a ton and that obviously takes priority especially because I have a day job. Knitting is my part time gig - I am a software developer during the day and have no intention of leaving this path for various reasons. I like to have options! I try to approach this endeavor organically where I don't have a strict list of what to do. Because this is a part time gig, I have quite a bit of flexibility as far as how much effort and time I am putting into it at any given time. Some days I will just knit things for myself and some days it's all about design and deadlines. I always have a project with me or sometimes two! That way I am able to complete them faster. But yes, it is a constant struggle to juggle it all but I wouldn't change anything about it - I like being busy!
How do you deal with criticism?
I like constructive criticism rather than serving the purpose of a punching bag for someone who had a bad day. Most people are very nice and understanding, but there is this little percent that just wants to get under your skin. Lucky for me, it hasn't happened much.

How long did it take for you to be able to support yourself?
I am nowhere near being able to do that but that was never the goal to begin with anyway!
What advice would you give someone who wants to pursue a career in knitting?
Review the real reasons you're doing it for, whether it's a side income, being able to fully support yourself or just to be recognized and go from there. Your approach will depend on this. If I wanted to support myself, my path would have been very different!
What’s next for you?
I recently started a podcast called TricitiesKnit with my friend who also knits and designs and it has been a great fun! We run KALs, giveaways, and so on and I love interacting with people who knit! (You can get more info here.)
As far as knitting goes, I am making this a year of a sweater! We are currently running a KnitCity Sweater KAL in our group and anyone can join! KnitCity is our local fiber and yarn fest and we love it!

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