Elsewhere

I’m out of town for a bit for a family function but I’m leaving you with some nice meaty links to explore while I’m gone—

— First off, you know I’m gonna love a log cabin blanket made from leftovers of hats knitted for a bounty of friends

— Must-read interview with Whitney Hayward on the economic realities of trying to make a living as a knitting pattern designer— i.e., why knitting patterns should cost more than they do

— There is a really fantastic discussion on Jacqui Cieslak’s post about the implications of the word “handmade”

— “People who would never otherwise talk to you will engage with you about what you’re doing,” she says. “They come to see that the people who are out in the street [knitting] are very nice, and that we are openly talking about race and racism. The group provides a path into the movement that people aren’t even looking for.”

— What happens when you try to give men the obnoxious What not to wear after 50 type of advice? Backlash.

— Have you seen @thegentlemanfelter? (thx, DG)

— Or lucky lady @chakamartinique, whose husband makes all of her clothes? (via Mac)

— And totally off topic, but this is a whole ‘nother level of commitment to one’s craft

Have an amazing weekend, everyone!

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6 thoughts on “Elsewhere

  1. I especially enjoyed the interview with Whitney Hayward. As someone who has published with magazines as well as on my own, I can attest to the fact that pattern designing (especially if you do sweaters graded in many sizes) is both time consuming and not nearly as lucrative as my former career in law. Robin Hunter, based in Toronto, has made a point of interviewing a huge number of designers on the business aspects of their work. See http://knittingrobin.blogspot.com/. Those who are most successful often bring together a bundle of unique assets. Think of Kate Davies, whose partner is her photographer, who lives in an enormously scenic part of the world, and who has access to world-class wool and mills to custom spin it (not to diminish her impressive artistic talent, writing skills, and other personal qualities in any way).
    In my case, the loss of my daughter/model to her computing career in California has profoundly changed how I work. In the past, I could fit samples on my daughter as I knitted. It used to be easy to say, “OK, the light just now is great, let’s head on down to the lake”. Now I have to hire someone, book their time, pay them, etc. It’s all so much more complex, and that’s only one piece of the design process.

  2. I very much appreciate Hayward’s individual accounting for her work. Reading both Whitney’s and Aigur’s experience crystalizes the issues on a micro level for me. The industry is bigger than it has ever been, more patterns are being created than ever before, and still, people aren’t earning a living doing this full-time, and add to this a lot of people aren’t feeling seen. I feel this speaks to the issue of sustainability.

    For a better picture of this, I would genuinely be interested to see the macro economics of this industry–total revenue generated by fiber festivals, total revenue/count generated by books and magazines, total revenue/count generated by the indy-dyer/fiber sellers, total revenue/count from individual pattern sales on Ravelry, and so on. My hunch is that these figures are monumental when all added up. In this way, the dissonance might be explained by saturation levels and how it impacts individual revenues.

    When knitting professionals talk to me about self-publishing (books & paper goods), I tell them that they have to come up with a reasonable price-point, and then reverse-engineer their product to accommodate it. I don’t know if it’s the only way, but it’s in keeping with a semblance of reality. There’s a choice when going into business. It’s to either ‘go big and go cheap’–mass-produce overseas but invest heavily on big business infrastructure. Or, carry out production on a sustainable and local level, but forfeit large revenues, do a huge amount of the work yourself, and accept that growth will come at a near glacial pace.

    Karen, thanks for providing the space for this discussion, and have a great time visiting family! XOXO

    • My husband, a retired IMF/World Bank economist would appreciate your suggestion for analysing the industry! My own take on it all is that we are living with the consequences of working in what has traditionally been regarded as “women’s work”, i.e. not something that matters much in the grand scheme of things.

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