Saturday, October 16, 2010

Hey Teach! Whattchadesigning?

It won't be long until I'll be officially teaching at the VAK (Free Academy of Arts) in Delft. Yep, the city where the famous Dutch blue white china is made. (but that's besides the point). I am very flattered and excited to be the knitting/crocheting teacher at the new Fashion/Styling school.

To promote the start of that specific course/school, a Day of Fashion was organized. During this well visited day those that were interested in starting lessons could sign up for short workshops while the teachers work was showed on the catwalk. It was first catwalk show. I have to be honest, I was slightly emotional seeing my work showed by the very cool and charming models (most of them students of the VAK). Loud music and black basic outfits framed my work and I realized in a split second; 'I'm a designer.' A very proud and weird moment at the same time.

As a teenager I dreamed about being a fashion designer. I enrolled Art School thinking and believing I was going to be one. But then I fell in love with the photography lessons and stepped on a different path.
Photography was certainly great (and still is) but Art School and the teachers didn't quite match with ... eh... me. I didn't get expelled as such, but I was very critical of the organization and slowly but certainly was made clear that my place wasn't there.

After another try at another Art School I this time realized that I just wasn't a photographer at heart. At least not in the way that they build and delivered them. And so I started working in a jeans store, just to buy myself some time to figure out where I was going with myself.

After a year of getting annoyed by my co-workers, that seemed to find noting more important than dating and clubbing, I started an education that fitted me like a glove. Cultural Social Sciences I think is the translation; CMV. It's a school where you learn all about how to become a professional in the spare time consumption of your fellow human. I chose the path of culture and arts (go figure) and specialized in media and communication.

After an internship at a now famous festival (Motel Mozaique) I stuck to the music bizz and was a PR/marketing manager for almost all the music venues in Rotterdam. After I re-organized the communication department of one of the smaller venues I finished growing in that area and stepped up the ladder to become marketing manager of the organization that is responsible for promoting all Rotterdam festivals as a whole.

A year later I expected Wee One and they let me go when my pregnancy leave already started... (it's a little more complicated than that, but it still feels that way to me)
And so I had no choice but to focus on the coming baby and made my job something to start thinking about later on.

A few years before I picked up knitting after years and years of not even thinking about it. And before I could say 'K2tog' I started a knitting group. I was planning to start the first Stitch 'n Bitch group in Rotterdam, but my fellow knitters were more comfortable knitting at home.
A few 'Breieenkomsten' (knit-alongs) followed but it didn't stick with most of the gals. For me, it was too late. I was hooked (excusez le mot) and started picking projects that had at least 3 new techniques at a time. I learned from books and the Internet and by transforming into a knitting pit bull. I just wouldn't let go.

When my friends' aunt opened a sewing cafe I jumped to it and shoved myself and my knitting skills under her nose and claimed (I guess I did exactly that) to be the knitting teacher.
Meanwhile my first real design was accepted by Knitty and turned out to be a very popular project amongst knitters all over the world. I was asked to design for online yarnstores and I designed for myself under the brand name I took from the blog I started to keep track of my knitting: SAS Knits It Again. Spelling out my first name Saskia and linking to 'I did it again', not knowing that that might not be a perfect brand name for the future. It just grew that way.

Meanwhile I started giving workshops at babyshowers, bachelorette parties and other fun get together like festivals.
An Etsy shop followed, some fairs where I sold knitwear and knit kits and then a period of reflection where I decided on a path to choose. I couldn't do it all, build a strong brand and be a mother at home at the same time. It took me a while... But I've become what I wanted to be at 16; a fashion designer and (as a bonus) a teacher! My career plans for the future? Teach and design! Passing the craft on to others and staying true to myself (and my family) while designing.

I'm not a fashionista, I design what I like, what I need or what I think knitters like and/or need. I don't confirm to the fashion business and I hope I can keep it that way.
I'm building my brand (with the not-so-good-name) and... I'm loving it!!

You can enroll the 'knitting for beginners' 6 lessons course now. Go here!

What to be and where to go; designing decisions

I recently designed for a well known store that sells clothing and home products at extremely low prices. It's called Zeeman. They started a campaign to promote their yarns. They mostly sell cheap acrylic, but sometimes you get good deals on mixed wool yarns. It's a place where loads of beginning knitters go to buy there starter kits.

I was very flattered to be asked to design some patterns for their online campaign keeping their target group in mind. It's a pretty clever setup. You get to choose from around 20 free patterns and either download the pattern and shoplist and get to work using the Tutorial (written by yours truly) and/or watching Youtube films OR forwarding your choice trough Twitter, Hyves (dutch Facebook) or mail and ask a befriended knitter (or family member) to do it for you.
Big Boom Bow, Orly, Pom Pom Vintage and Lima are my designs (the choise of names isn't).
It's in Dutch so you'll have to find a free language course online to get the full benefits of the campaign if you're not fluent in Dutch...

Zeeman is also organising a big knitting event where they want to break the world record of 'knitters in one place knitting'. It's all a big publicity stunt of course, with Dutch soap actrice/presenter Nikkie Plessen hosting it and the national press covering it, but it's still a good idea to promote knitting in general as well.

I was asked to teach the workshop during the event. My eyes got big and I replied with a greedy YES and then it slowly dawned on my what they were actually asking of me and I decided it wasn't what I wanted to do/be or what I wanted to connect my 'brand-in-building' to. Not because I look down on their brand or the type of press coverage, but because it just doesn't fit with what I want to be and become.
It's like a car designer is asked to drive in a formula one race. All very exhilarating but just not his thing...

If you still have non-believers around you, this campaign might just work! Just slip them the link during a chat session.

Designing and Teaching

Bright and early on my way to the fair.

Gosh, I really don't know where to start. Should I make separate posts to keep you reading or one big, huge newsflash post? There's so much going on that I just keep postponing writing about it all. And, for a change, I'm also actually knitting.
I'm knitting my ass off to be exact. (and in my case, that a WHOLE lot of knitting!)

I'll just take it a step at a time.

One of the latest trends in crocheting/knitting; Zpagetti.
A bulky yarn made from left overs in the textile industry.

Today I went to the annual needlecrafts fair in my hometown Rotterdam and got home with:
- a bag full of
Options goodies including a (excuses le mot) set of crochet (...) needles. More on those later, cable needles, a new pair of 3.5mm's (they are strong but can't handle beeing sit on...), a shawl pin (gotta have at least one) and the chunky set to complete my interchangeable set. I now feel like a real pro with a bag full of matching hardware.
- 4 cones of wool/angora mix taupe yarn (so I can finally start knitting a huge cardigan for ME!) for an amazing price.

- A big box full of lush green SILK (for sale during my lesson for at least 50% of normal silk prices!!)
- An amigurimi book (again, more on that later!) - Loads of lanolin cosmetics made by my friend Yvon at Storm op Zolder. I mistook the lotion for the cream and accidentally spilled it all over me and Boyfriend dear. I can tell you it smells like a dream!
the ugliest yarn I've ever seen.
It comes with little plucks of fake fur.

I did some hardcore bargaining on a new sewing machine (I still use the 1960's one my mother got at her wedding) and caught up with fellow knitster Dianne B. A very successful day!
Posters for an upcoming knitting event sponsored by Zeeman, a cheap yarn/clothing store.
More on this in my next post.