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Monday
Jan182010

A Custom Knits Sweater for My Son / Finding Time to Knit

I know it doesn't look like much yet but this is the start of a Classic Top-Down Raglan Sweater for my son. Instead of following a pattern, I'm using the formula Wendy Bernard gives in her book Custom Knits. When I bought the yarn I was really motivated to get going but I haven't ended up working very quickly. This would be fine except that my son is growing fast, and I need to get this done while he can still wear it.  The yarn is Swan's Island Worsted, an amazingly soft and beautiful organic merino. I'm posting about this project and planning to post updates as a way of putting some pressure on myself (though, honestly, I don't really need more pressure in my life). This project is part of my resolution to spend at least 10 minutes each day crafting that I posted about here. (The skirt is coming along nicely albeit slowly.) To make some time for myself, I got a dishwasher last week (that will save me at least 10 minutes a day.) But I'm still finding it challenging to find/make free time. I'm a very efficient person but, like so many other people, I have way too much to do. If anyone has any great efficiency techniques they want to share, please leave a comment. Because life is definitely better when there's more time to craft.

Monday
Jan112010

Meeting Kaffe Fassett--And a Sneak Peek at His Newest Book

Back in the early 1990s, I was working as a freelance writer and editor and got the idea that I wanted to focus on crafts. I started seeking out and pursuing opportunities and was lucky enough to be invited on a trip to the Shetland Islands in order to write articles for a few different magazines. One of the featured guests on the trip was Kaffe Fassett, so I made arrangements to interview him. A short version of the interview was published in Fiber Arts magazine and a longer version in the Rowan magazine. I remember being nervous about the interview but, when it was over, thinking it had gone pretty well. I found Kaffe to be warm and friendly and was impressed by the articulate, clever, and poetic way in which he described the beautiful landscape surrounding us. I must have made a decent impression on him because I am now proud to say that, all these years later, I am the editor of Kaffe's upcoming book Kaffe Fassett's Simple Shapes Spectacular Quilts. In SSSQ, Kaffe demonstrates how basic geometric forms--squares, rectangles, triangles, diamonds, circles, and quarter-circles--found in natural and manmade environments inspire his quilt designs. During our interview in Shetland, Kaffe said this to me: "I spend my life wanting to stand up and yell 'Hey! Look, we're passing through Paradise.' But everyone's too busy reading newspapers." Today he might say people are too busy texting or checking their email. SSSQ is definitely a wakup call. I guarantee that once you experience it you'll feel inspired to look up from your newspaper or whatever screen is absorbing you to see the beautiful shapes and colors around you. If you're a quilter, you'll likely want to incorporate that beauty into your quilts. But even if you're not a quilter, I think you'll still be inspired. SSSQ will be in stores in March. Today I'm happy to offer you this sneak peek.

Monday
Jan042010

My New Year's Resolution

It's 2010 and one of my resolutions for the new year is to spend at least 10 minutes crafting each day. Above is my in-progress Beaded-Applique Swing Skirt (also known as the Applique Rose Swing Skirt) from Alabama Stitch Book by Natalie Chanin. I'm proud to say I've worked on it every day so far.

When it's done, it will look like this.

Monday
Dec212009

Reversible Knitting by Lynne Barr--How We Chose the Cover

All of us at STC Craft were excited and intrigued by the response to our Reversible Knitting cover post. Over 550 of you shared your opinions about the cover we chose and the three runner-ups. So, for today's post, as part of the Reversible Knitting blog tour,  I'm going to explain to you how we made our decision.

All of the covers and the interior of the book were designed by Sarah Von Dreele, with photographs by Thayer Allyson Gowdy. For several weeks Sarah and I collaborated on the cover design in preparation for the meeting at which I would present the choices to the cover committee (a group composed of our CEO as well as individuals who hold key positions in sales, marketing, publicity, and editorial). The cover committee makes the final cover choice.

Top left: Everyone loved this cover because of the great texture of Wenlan Chia's Winding Path sweater and because of the way it shows the two sides of the knitted fabric, plus the swatches of course. The cover committee was concerned that we might not be showing enough sweater and didn't like the model looking down (away from the customer). The Traveling Path sweater can be worn as shown on this cover as well as inside out and upside down (see bottom left cover and the gallery).

Top right: Graphically, this cover (like the others in this format) works beautifully, however no one felt that Lynne Barr's Two-Tone Vest was as eye-catching on the cover as the other options. One of the cool aspects of this vest is that it can be worn with either side of the fabric right side out and with either side in front or back (check out the gallery to see what I mean).

Bottom left: This cover, showing Wenlan Chia's sweater worn with the reverse side of the fabric outward (compared to the way it is being worn in the top left cover), was never a serious contender because it didn't show the swatches (such an integral part of the book) and because the color and graphic design seemed dull compared to the other options. That is why when I read everyone's responses, I was so surprised to find out how many people thought this was the best cover of all. I'll definitely keep this reaction in mind as we work on covers for future books.

Bottom right: This was the cover committee's top choice because it is colorful, shows a beautiful garment with a reversible cable (Reverse Me designed by Norah Gaughan), plus the swatches, and because the model looks friendly and approachable. Overall, this is the cover that everyone believed said "Pick up this book and take a look inside" most boldly and that, of course, is a cover's main purpose.


Thanks to everyone who commented . The winner of a copy of Reversible Knitting will be notified after the contest ends at 11:59pm on December 21, 2010. Meanwhile, if you have a few minutes, check out this fascinating Q&A with Lynne Barr here.

Thursday
Dec172009

Our First Peek at 2010 -- Alabama Studio Style by Natalie Chanin

We will be releasing 5 new craft books in the spring of 2010. Above is a sneak peek at the cover of the first one, Alabama Studio Style by Natalie Chanin, the creative force behind Alabama Chanin and the author of Alabama Stitch Book. Click here to see a sampling of the beautiful inside spreads. I love hand-stitching--and wearing--Alabama Chanin clothing. Earlier this year I wrote about my experiences stitching a camisole dress and a corset.