Coming up next week, I’ll be participating in the Vintage Modern Knits blog book tour. Here’s a sneak preview from the Kelbourne Woolens site. I’m hoping to catch up with Kate and Courtney when I’m in Philadelphia this week for some video (remember, I’m teaching at Loop on Saturday! come say hi even if you’re not in class!)
Here’s a list of the sites participating in the blog tour:
And here’s the roundup post about the tour over at Interweave’s Knitting Daily.
I was so pleased to read a tweet from Courtney yesterday that noted the book was sitting at #1 in knitting on Amazon and #368 in overall books — it’s even higher today! So excited for them both. It’s a gorgeous book.
Today I’m excited to be the opening stop on the blog tour for Kristy McGowan‘s Modern Top Down Knitting. Miriam and I both got copies of this at Rhinebeck, and it is SPECTACULAR…the kind of book where you immediately cry because you know you don’t have enough time to knit all the things from it that you might want to knit!
Here are some interior shots so you can sob for yourself (well, unless you have more time available for knitting than I do). I am a huge fan of the dresses in this book…anyone feel like knitting one for me? There’s a timeless aspect to them that I adore, it reminds me of my favorite vintage 1940s dress which always looks good, no matter where or when you wear it.
I had the chance to meet Kristy at Rhinebeck, where she reminded me that we’d met ages ago at Suss Cousins’ NYC yarn store, and I followed up my devouring the book with a few questions for the tour… keep reading all the way through, there’s a contest at the end! And check in at the STC Craft/Melanie Falick Books blog for other blog tour dates…
What was the general concept behind the book and why were you inspired to create it?
Though it sounds somewhat simple, I really just wanted to share my design ideas and create a collection of items that I made myself. I dreamed about writing a knitting book since I was 15.
What’s your favorite piece in the book and why?
The Pavement Jacket was the first top-down piece that I ever made and the process of creating it was especially interesting and joyful.
How amazing was it to hang out with Barbara Walker in person? Come on, spill. What’s she like?
I was pretty hopped up and happy that day. It was the kind of trip where you dopily smile at everyone en route because the whole thing is an adventure. I realized only at the end of the day that I had put on two different earrings — completely distracted and preoccupied as I was. I have often thought of and love the relationship readers can have with books, how reading can often feel otherworldly — and how perfect it is when you’re really able to float away off into another place for a while. The experience seems especially personal with craft books, and when you have a voice as strong as Barbara’s encouraging you along the way and teaching you amazing things, the pay off feels that much greater.
I imagine like many knitters, I felt very connected to her and grateful for her brain and sense of curiosity. She’s encouraging and very modest and soft spoken and her face gets beet red when you joke with her and ask if she realizes how great she is. She’s meticulously organized — everything is perfectly in its place — and every spot in the house displays elements of her creative journeys. In the living room is a painting that she did that came out of her work on developing a tarot card deck — it depicts a regal-looking woman with long hair and a lion by her side and incredible glass cases filled with rocks line the walls of that same room and showcase her extensive collection. It was almost too much for me to take in or absorb fully until later. She’ll casually explain that although she had never painted before, she ended up painting an entirely new tarot card deck and writing an accompanying book on how to use them.
The same was true for her knitting — she didn’t teach herself how until she was 36 and then look what happened. I was 37 at the time she told me this, and so it all really resonated. I found her stories incredibly uplifting and they really renewed my faith in the benefits of taking less traveled paths.
What tips and tricks do you like to use to alter or more accurately fit top-down patterns to your personal shape?
I think being really aware of your own body’s measurements and knowing how to decrease and increase between any given point A and point B is the most helpful way to ensure a good fit. On page 12 in Knitting from the Top, there’s a section titled “How to Calculate Shaping in Four Simple Steps” — which has been repeated in other books. That section has been immensely useful to me — that short paragraph is the basis for anything you’d need to know. There’s also a great section on how to achieve all sorts of different necklines on pages 76/77.
What’s on your needles right now?
I’m working on a few new designs and have been experimenting these past few days with Jared Flood’s Shelter yarn. I bought a huge amount of it in a rich purple color called Thistle. [ed. note: Aaaagh! that’s the next color I’m buying in that yarn, it’s gorgeous!] I love contemplating a yarn that I have not worked with before and having it sit in my brain for a few days. I’ll knit up multiple swatches of it and pin them on my dress form and just stare at them for a while — which is all I’ve been doing so far with it. It’s tempting to go all-out cables and tradition with this particular yarn — there’s something truly rustic and lovely about how it works up — but the color itself is also extraordinary & so I want to see how I can make that the focus. It’s just a beautiful thing when on a Sunday you can start working on something, glance at the clock and have it be 9 am and then when you look again, poof, it’s already 4pm and you have idea where the time went. That’s the delight I’ve had so far with this yarn.
Tell me more about what you learned when it comes to using trim on your sweaters — what tips and tricks have you been able to apply to your work to make it look, hang and fit better?
Applying trim and finishing knit pieces with it, for me, is just an added creative outlet and way to take even more pride in a finished piece. I don’t like to sew, but it’s such an easy step and adds so much (I think) that it’s worth the effort. It helps your pieces feel really finished — and there’s something rewarding about peeking on the inside and seeing it. The tips and tricks would be to remain mindful of stretch and making sure you choose a trim that has enough of it if you’re going to use it around armholes and neck openings or hems. And also just having fun with it and making the selection your own. It’s a nice way to further customize. I’m partial to velvet stretch trim, but the possibilities are endless. A whimsical rick rack — or ruffled trim can add a lot of fun — not to mention the the process of shopping for it. Daytona is my favorite spot here in NYC — here’s a clip of me at Daytona that friend made a short time ago.
If you had to narrow everything you know about top-down designs down to one tip, what would it be?
Hmm….I guess my tip would be that if you haven’t already tried it, you should! I’m slightly biased, but it really is a wonderful technique to have in your creative larder — one that you can go back to again and again and use for all sorts of things.
Would you like your own copy of this wonderful book? Leave a comment and we’ll choose a winner!
This month, The Knitgrrl Guide to Professional Knitwear Design is hitting the virtual road! Keep tabs on this post or on my author page at BookTour.com for the latest additions to the schedule. You’ll want to visit every site on the tour, because each one is giving away a copy of the book! Here are the dates:
For the Twitter tour with Kim on the 13th, you’ll want to visit us at @kpwerker and @knitgrrl from 7:00-9:00 p.m. — don’t forget the #knitgrrlguide hashtag! What’s a hashtag? (Well, it is explained in the book…)
See you here, there and everywhere!
updated to add: you might also be interested in Diane’s guest post over at Cooperative Press: “Why Your Favorite Indie Books Need You” — it’s genius!
update #2: just added! Stefanie Japel on the second of August…
While on the road, Kim and I sat down for interviews twice: with Guido from It’s a Purl, Man (you can listen here) and with Wendy from Knitty D and the City (which will be posted soon).
I love podcasts. I love multimedia (in my yarn and my internet). My best friend had a really good suggestion re: internet video recently, so hold on — perhaps we’ll get that up and running.
In other news: I got all the classes I wanted at winter TNNA for once (thanks, Amy for the signup heads-up), and the class I’m teaching is already half sold out, so if you haven’t already, register soon.
My second-favorite four-letter-word right now, after ‘yarn.’
You can see all these photos full-sized here — all of Kim’s are here.
I am still playing catchup in terms of uploading posts about the tour. The so-called plague I caught in NYC is a lingering one, and I’m not quite feeling 100% myself yet. You can tell how sick I am in each photo by my hair… is it pulled up off my face? Then chances are I collapsed into bed post-shower the night before and that was the only way to control the hair-insanity!
Thanks again to everyone who hosted us, drove us around, fed us, amused us and otherwise took care of us on the road. Who knew friends with washers and dryers were so valuable? (Ask a touring rock band, I suppose… I shared the floor with one at my cousin’s apartment in Philadelphia). More to come!
Still sick, and probably infecting half the eastern seaboard, but we’re in the home stretch of the tour! Hurrah! Last night’s event at Knitty City was awesome — it’s such a gorgeous store and Pearl + staff are fabulous. I got to meet Kimberli, who did 2 patterns in Knitgrrl 2, and finally… FINALLY got my hands on some sea silk. More photos and commentary to come, but meanwhile you can check out what I’ve uploaded here. We’re off to Philadelphia later in the morning, so see you at Rosie’s Yarn Cellar this afternoon from 4-6:00 or until they kick us out.
Blog tour is running a day behind thanks to some internet issues I had last night, so click over to Julie today and Amy tomorrow!
Update: only 4 of the 30+ photos I have to upload actually uploaded successfully, and I need to be on a train shortly. Darn it! So I will get the rest onto Flickr tonight…
Well, that does it. I knew I couldn’t hold out forever. I have come down with a capital-C Cold. The tour-fun continues, though. I will be uploading photos from Spark Craft, Mind’s Eye, WEBS and Modern Yarn later; meanwhile, you can read the fantastic Lolly interview (complete with the most adorable photos ever of people reading Spin to Knit).
Tomorrow afternoon at 4:00 we’re at the New York Public Library’s Teen Center, and Wednesday at 5:00 it’s Knitty City. Thursday is Philadelphia, then down to DC for the last two stops of the tour (and yes, Lolly, you have to come to at least one of them so I can thank you for a fabulous interview!)
With that, I’m going to bed. Photos soon, I promise (check out Kim’s photos if you can’t stand the wait one more second!).
Tonight we’ll be at Spark Craft Studios in Davis Square from 6-8:00 for a crafty crafty craft night with Leah Kramer, who you all know in one of her capacities or another (author of The Craftster Guide to Nifty, Thrifty and Kitschy Crafts, creator of Craftster, the ne plus ultra of online craft, Bazaar Bizarre organizer and part-owner of Magpie, one of my favorite stores in the whole world).
Tomorrow, we’ll be at Mind’s Eye Yarns from 1:00 to 3 or 4. Come play with us! Bring your needles, hooks, wheels, spindles…whatever you like.
And Sunday, we remain firmly on Massachusetts soil, at WEBS in Northampton from noon. (Need directions? You can’t possibly forget their web address, it’s yarn.com)
Grace, Kim and Beatrice at Adirondack Yarns in Lake Placid, NY. (Photo by Kim’s mom)
Even if you’re not in training for the Olympics, Lake Placid, NY has much to recommend it… it’s beautiful, there’s lots to do, but most importantly: there is a yarn store with a coffeehouse inside, namely Adirondack Yarns. We had so much fun!
Grace started Amy Swenson’s Nakiska headband in a gorgeous cornflower blue alpaca last night. (Don’t worry, Amy, I made her promise to send photos!)
The shop was packed with kids and moms, learning how to crochet flowers with Kim and how yarn is made. Sivia Harding’s jewelry from Knitgrrl 2 was a huge hit — I taught Sophia how to knit, from scratch, on US size #4 needles with Fleece Artist sock yarn because she wanted to make jewelry. Not even one row in and she was stylin’ — a natural-born knitter. Who says you have to start with chunky yarn? there’s no law!
If you’re ever in northern NY state, be sure to check out Adirondack Yarns, and many thanks to owner Susie & staff (including her mom, who’d just arrived the night before) for a wonderful evening.