Exactly - to the date! - one year ago I posted the first designer of the month interview with Katie Ferry. During this year I've interviewed a lot of talented knitwear designers (and one crochet designer!). It's been such a pleasure, and I hope you've enjoyed it too!
So, a new year of interviews its starting! This October's interview is a "first", too - my first interview with a German designer: Kalinumba, aka Anja Belle. She's a popular designer here in Germany, and many of her patterns are also available online (except for her new book Doubleface Stricken!). She was born in 1972 and is a mother of two sons and a master of photography. She lives with her family and three cats in the near of Frankfurt/Main in the middle of Germany.
You’ll find her designs at www.kalinumba.de; if you speak German, also check out her blog at kalinumba.worldpress.com
WorstedKnitt (WK): Let's get started! Anja, thanks for agreeing to this interview. Please tell us, what got you into designing in the first place?
Anja Belle (AB): I’m looking for „the perfect piece“ constantly. My Daddy said my creative thinking is a sickness! And he was right! I can’t live without doing some funny things. To watch tv is just wasted time for me. It is more comfortable for me to sit all night long playing with strange symbols on pieces of paper, needles, yarns and … designing. Or knitting. Sometimes ;-)
WK: What are your favourite things to design?
AB: I like small things like accessories more than big ones. Pieces like a sweater need too much time for me, and I need a lot to much time to think about the right way to produce it. Definitely there are too many ways to choose from. If I knit smaller things, I can knit two with a different choice in the same time. It is always the question how many ideas I can put into my knitting time.
WK: That's an interesting way to look at it! What are your favourite materials to work with?
AB: What do you want to hear? Yarn? ;-) (WK: LOL!)
I’m fascinated by new or piquant techniques or materials. So every favourite yarn would prevent me from discovering a new and exiting one. I don’t like plastic or heavyweight yarns, though.
WK: So you'll try everything and not stick to a few favourites. I bet that's fun! Who or what was your earliest inspiration that started you on your way to being the designer you are today?
AB: My father was an artist with his camera and told me all about designing a picture. So I started designing in my earliest childhood. I always have to design, otherwise I’m feeling bad.
WK: How do you usually design – how would you describe your designing process?
AB: First thing I think about a new technique: what can I do with it? Maybe I can do something else with it? What happens if I change something? Sometimes I knit more than 20 swatches before I knit one single finished piece. There’s nothing about “today I design a sweater”-like. Making swatches, that’s it. During that process I develop an idea.
WK: Swathcing! That's special, as everyone seems to hate it, no matter how important it is. How do you conceptualize your designs?
AB: There’s no “is not” - there’s only a “where’s the way?” The work on it is to find the way out of my head.
WK: How does your “typical day” when designing look like?
AB: Huh… I send my kids to school, drink some coffee, switch the pc on and read mails. Drink more coffee. Looking for my notes. Drink a coffee. Wondering about my notes while I drink a coffee. Then type the notes into a file, make some maths about it and swatch it. Throw it into the waste bin and start again (with a coffee). And so on. In the evening I sit on the sofa and knit what I have developed. Sometimes it seems good to me and I make notes for the next morning, otherwise I start over. And cannot sleep because of so much coffee.
WK: Coffee, you say :) Where do you get your inspiration?
AB: Maybe I see a picture and want to take this theme. Or a pattern at the wall. A feeling. A sentence in a book. Everything can say : “hey, that’s it! A perfect idea!” Inspiration is everywhere, you only have to open your eyes and ears.
WK: That's so true. Where do you do your best design work?
AB: There isn’t a special place to get ideas, because my brain is always with me.
WK: How do you nurture your creative spirit?
AB: Never heard to rules like : “adults don’t do so”. Or “That is the way we used to go always”. Just staying a bit childlike. Being curious about everything. And never ever call designing “work to get money”. It has to be fun, action, playing. If it is fun, it is easy to do. If it’s work, I want to take vacation from it.
WK: True words! What do you think is your "that one thing" that makes you a great designer?
AB: I don’t think I am. I’ve just learned to live with my creative sickness instead of fighting against it.
WK: I think you've learned it very well! What advice would you give to aspiring designers?
AB: Don’t give up! Be convinced about your design! Try to live your dream instead of dreaming your life.
WK: Amen to that!
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