Tuesday, 9 April 2013

Asking the Right Questions

It would be easy to imagine that the life of an international knitwear designer is a simple one. The knitting muses, wake you gently from your slumber with a million and one ideas that are rattled off your needles, sent to the client and everyone relaxes on the veranda with a nice G&T.

Or not.

Sometimes, with the best will in the world, the samples are not what the client had in mind.

I had an email from the studio at the beginning of the week telling me that the samples I'd sent weren't right. My boss was excellent and explained the problems with them so I don't do it again but it was a blow. Before we go any further, this is not a pity post. It is sharing a tale so that others may ask the right questions. As with so many things in life, experience teaches us how to deal with the next time the same thing happens. Learning from someone else's experience is not cheating.

Don't be afraid to ask a question that may seem inane. If you don't know that answer, you don't know it. That's not your fault. It may have been assumed. Sometimes the client gives you so much detail, the information gets lost. Whatever the reason is you have a gap in your knowledge. Plug it.

Size matters. Makes sure you know the size of the final piece required and by that I mean proper measurements. Use a tape measure, use something with a firm edge and a known length, use your camera phone and something beside it for scale but make a proper note. Do not trust your memory, it lies to you,

Be very clear about the details. Does this require more than one stitch structure/motif? What weight is it? Can I use novelty yarns? Can I incorporate non-yarn items? Is it menswear/womenswear? Is it high fashion or high street? What season is it? Again there is no wrong question.

If this is a conversation, make sure you repeat all the information back at the end. "So to confirm you need ...." This is not just to make sure you've got everything but it will highlight anything in your head that you need to know but don't.

Take notes. I use a page a day diary so everything is kept in one place. Again this can act as a check list. Client, job, deadline, sample/finished garment etc, number required, fabric requirements (lace/7 stitch structures per samples/type of construction),size.

This is not a hard and fast list and I'm sure as I learn there will be more to add, but it's not a bad place to start.



  1. Ooh thanks for the advice! Can I start calling you Yoda now?

    1. Only when short and green am I.

      I'm not sure it's advice, it's more things I've learnt. I just hope it helps someone else.